The Solo Journey After the Loss of a Spouse

Benjamin Haas |

The aftermath of a loved one’s death is an extremely difficult period. The grief journey takes time. In my short 12-year career I’ve already received that unfortunate phone call more times than I care to count and cannot imagine having to be the one that makes that call. In my position, the goal is to be leaned on as much as desired to make the load a little lighter for my clients going through this difficult period of time. While already coping with many emotions, there are usually financial matters that must be dealt with. And that’s why I am here to help.

So while it is important to allow time to grieve, it is also imperative to complete certain tasks. We’ve complied a short list of items to consider at this time of loss, separated into three parts; the things to do now, the important things to do soon, and those things that are important but can wait. We share this list of things below as lessons we have learned from our clients who have gone through this unfortunate situation and transitioned now into a solo journey.

Now – Time to take care of you:

  • Check the necessary boxes. Gather documents, contact institutions, retitle assets if necessary, close accounts and settle the estate with the help of your estate attorney. But…
  • Don’t rush. While you will need to decide SOME things, there shouldn’t be many major items that need immediate attention. This is not financial triage. Take stock of what the financial situation is but give yourself some time prior to making any life-altering decisions regarding your work, your home, your money, etc.
  • You may be grief-numb and that makes this a vulnerable time. Find trusted resources to help you say, “that’s an interesting idea but I’m not ready to make any big decisions” such as family, friends, or long-standing professional relationships.

Soon – Time to take care of business:

  • Take time for you and review your plan. Some things that were good for the couple won’t be good for the individual. Investment styles may be different, goals may change, and priorities may be altered.
  • The housing decision is a difficult one. Do you pay it off with insurance? Move? Remodel? Give yourself time with these big decisions that may remove liquidity and flexibility from your new plan moving forward.
  • Take small steps with the big financial and investment decisions to make sure they feel right. It’s ok to test drive ideas and advice. The most important thing is feeling secure and safe in this new situation.
  • Update estate documents to now reflect updated legacy wishes.

Later – Taking care of more:

  • Don’t be a purse for others – at least not right away. Give time to assess your own needs first and make sure you make time for fulfillment of your own wishes.
  • Follow the “ABCs.” Always ask questions, buyers beware, and care for yourself (financial and emotional and health).

If you or someone you know is in this unfortunate situation, we hope and pray you have the support of close friends and family and caring professionals during this difficult time. If we can lighten the load by working on your behalf to help ease the stress of settling these important financial matters during this very emotional time, please feel free to let us know.


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The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.