The loss of your spouse can be a critical time in your life, during which you will need the support of friends and family and lots of time to heal. You’ll also want to rally a team of trusted experts who can help a new widow through new and probably undesirable territory.
You may already have a professional and personal support network, which is a good start, but it’s important to identify gaps in your support community and then engage professionals you trust to educate you. and hold yourself accountable.
So where to start ? Here’s a look at some of the most important professionals you need on your team and the roles they’ll play in your life.
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A financial advisor is one of the most trusted members of your team. The person you choose must be a paid fiduciary advisor. Many widows already have a relationship with a financial advisor when their spouse dies, but end up moving to another advisor who feels a better fit.
According to some estimates, more than 80% of widows change the financial advisor initially chosen by their spouse. In many cases, the counselor had a relationship with the deceased spouse and never fully involved the female half in the financial planning and investment processes.
Your financial advisor can help you with immediate financial issues, such as settling parts of an estate, but their main purpose is to help you plan for your long-term financial future. For example, you may need to reallocate your investments.
While it may be tempting to leave your investment accounts divided exactly as they were during your spouse’s lifetime, this decision may not be in your best interest. As a widow, you will have different financial concerns than you had as a couple. You may want to consider downsizing, moving closer to your grandchildren, or even pursuing a new career. All of these changes will require the advice of a financial planner to see how your new life will work best, financially.
Be sure to start by interviewing only fiduciary financial advisors, who will always act in your best interests and give you independent and impartial advice. A certified financial planner who is knowledgeable, trustworthy and understands your unique needs and goals can help you get your new financial life on the right track.
Estate Planning Lawyer
It’s a good idea to hire a licensed attorney in your area who primarily focuses on estate and trust law. Finding the right attorney can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Your financial planner will likely have many trusted relationships with estate planning attorneys and can introduce you to a professional in your area.
Alternatively, you can reach out to friends and family for recommendations, or visit the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (opens in a new tab) website and the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (opens in a new tab) website to find a reputable real estate planner in your state.
It is also essential to locate your spouse’s original will and make an appointment to review it with your attorney. If you can’t find the original will, the estate planning lawyer who drafted your documents may be able to help you.
Also, discuss with your attorney any federal and state property taxes that are owed. Also be sure to ask about any unexpected one-time expenses related to the death. Your attorney will also help you with probate court filings, notices to creditors, and asset distributions, making the process as smooth and simple as possible.
Therapist, grief counselor or other mental health professional
In addition to addressing your financial future, your emotional and mental health is of paramount importance. The loss of a spouse can be one of life’s most emotionally wrenching events, second only to the loss of a child. Not only did you lose your life partner, but also the future you had planned together.
Bereavement counselling, also known as bereavement counselling, can be essential in helping you cope with the death of your spouse. A good grief counselor will provide a safe space to discuss your feelings, while helping you develop tools and strategies to get through this difficult time and heal.
Loss and Grief Specialist Diane Brennan (opens in a new tab) suggests, “Working with a counselor is beneficial for widows as they work through grief and find ways to rebuild their lives after loss. Individual counseling sessions and support groups can be helpful in introducing grief tools. Individual counseling offers personalized attention and a private space to work through any emotions and feelings related to loss, while support groups offer widows a place to connect with others who “get it” in one place. sure. For most widows, grief never completely goes away, although with time (and guidance) it subsides and ceases to hinder future happiness.
Grieving affects everyone differently and at different times. It is important not to go through this alone! Your estate planning attorney and financial advisors can probably refer you to a professional with experience in bereavement counseling.
psychology todaythe online database of (opens in a new tab) is also a good tool when looking for a mental health professional to support you.
This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing advisor, not Kiplinger’s editorial staff. You can check advisor records with the SEC (opens in a new tab) or with FINRA (opens in a new tab).
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