Darrell Bryant Retirement Blog

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

If Widowhood Happened Tomorrow, Would You Be Prepared?

By Darrell Bryant

Death is an uncomfortable eventuality that we will all have to face one day. The events of this past year have taught us that we can’t take life for granted and being caught unprepared only exacerbates the grief. Considering the difference in life expectancies of men and women, widowhood is a possibility you need to take seriously. 

While there is really no way to prepare emotionally for the loss of a life partner, you can prepare financially. Spending a little time and effort in advance making sure you can answer the following questions will ease the burden if you find yourself in the excruciatingly difficult time of widowhood. So ask yourself, “If I were widowed tomorrow, would I be prepared?”

Is Your Spouse’s Will In Order?

If your spouse doesn’t have a will, they need to draw one up immediately. Without a will, it takes a lot longer to get closure and all the details can get messy in the process. If they do have a will, you need to know where it is and have easy access to it. Also, it would be wise for them to review their will regularly to keep it up to date. 

Are All Important Documents Organized?

In the aftermath of your partner’s passing, their will is not the only document you will need. Your marriage certificate, their birth certificate, and their Social Security card will be required to do things like request benefits or change the name on your car titles. Make sure you know where all of this paperwork is located, in addition to automobile titles and property deeds. 

What Benefits Are You Entitled To?

When your spouse dies, you will be entitled to Social Security benefits and possibly other assets like pension benefits, life insurance, and annuities. If they were still working, there’s a good chance you will be eligible for benefits through their employer which you are unaware of. Have your spouse make a list of all the benefits you will receive at their death, and ensure you have the necessary information to claim them.

Do You Have Access To All Financial Account Information?

You probably have a checking account, savings account, retirement, and other investment accounts. When your spouse dies, the management of all of them will fall to you. Therefore, you need a list of every account you have, whether joint or in only one of your names, the type of account, the institution that holds it, and the account number. 

In addition to your assets, you have liabilities, such as debts, insurance, and monthly utilities. Since you don’t want to default on your mortgage while you’re trying to cope with your spouse’s death, record the relevant information for these accounts as well, including how and when payments are made. 

Have You Created A Budget?

An important part of developing a plan to move forward alone will involve knowing your current spending needs. If you don’t already have a written budget, begin tracking your expenses and create one. It will be an incredible aid when planning for the future.

Do You Have A Trusted Advisor?

Having a strong support system will carry you through the death of your spouse and give you the strength to move on. Part of that system should be a trusted financial professional. 

It is vital you have someone you trust that you can turn to for help in financial matters. Widowhood is an extremely vulnerable time, and many unscrupulous people prey on widows. Take some time now to get to know your financial advisor and make sure you like working with them. Your peace of mind is of the utmost importance so.

How We Can Help

One thing you will not regret is preparing for possible widowhood before it happens. At D. Bryant Retirement Strategies, we aim to arm you with a solid financial foundation and empower and educate you to make decisions that are right for your life. As you prepare for widowhood, we are here to answer any questions you may have. Call us at (402) 932-2141 or email contact@dbretirement.com to get started!

About Darrell

Darrell Bryant, CFS®, CAS® is Omaha’s Retirement Strategist. As the founder of D. Bryant Retirement Strategies, he focuses on helping individuals and couples nearing retirement do so successfully. Along with more than 30 years of experience, he received the Certified Fund Specialist (CFS®) designation and a Certified Annuity Specialist (CAS®) designation from the Institute of Business & Finance. Passionate about helping as many people as possible in his community, he hosts Retirement Strategies Radio, heard Saturday mornings at 7:00 a.m. on 1110 KFAB. He has also written articles on financial planning that have been featured on Fortune.com, FoxBusiness.com, Money.com, and in the Midland Business Journal. To learn more, visit his blog, his website, or connect with him on LinkedIn.