30 Apr What Happens If I Become A Widow?
When you said your wedding vows, you probably didn’t think too much about the phrase, “’Til death do us part.” It isn’t the kind of thing that new brides and grooms discuss at much length. Most probably have an image of living into the days of dementia with their spouse, perhaps assuming grown children would take care of any kind of needed funeral arrangements.
But it doesn’t always work that way.
Taking a few steps to prepare financially now ensures you won’t have to think about it later, should the occasion arise. Some preparations help you be prepared ahead of time, while the latter suggestions could help after your husband is deceased.
Know Your Financial Situation
It’s not a joke when we say, “knowing is half the battle.” Many women – of all ages – have a hard time explaining to financial consultants exactly how money is spent in their household. In order to determine what benefits are needed to survive without your husband, you first need to know what you were spending as a family. Knowing where you are currently will give you a better picture of what additional savings you will need to have for retirement and healthcare in the coming years. (Keeping in mind that the latter needs will likely increase as you age.)
Knowing what you spend is important. Know where the money is that you are spending is also important. Both spouses should be aware of all financial holdings, along with the account numbers and passwords needed to access them. Secret accounts, no matter what the reason, can wind up backfiring and lead to much hassle… if they are even discovered at all!
Keep the Paperwork
Any documentation you have on paper relating to your husband’s or your joint estate will help move the situation along more smoothly as you transition into widowhood. One less worry will help you move on to other things. No one wants to spend the grieving time digging through old paperwork to find copies of deeds.
Share What You Can
Making sure you and your husband have at least one shared financial account will ensure you have some kind of liquid assets to use if you need them immediately. If all bank accounts are in your husband’s name, you may have to wait a considerable amount of time until you are able to access those funds.
Even if you were the bill payer in the family, you will probably need expert advice on how to restructure your finances from a two-person income to a single earning wage. Assets will doubtlessly need to be moved and credit rearranged. Coming up with a new financial plan is a must for you at this time… and it’s exactly what some experts are there to do for you. You have a few other things to take care of; it might be wise to leave this important job to someone else.
While you are sorting through what needs to be done, don’t make any rash decisions. In the moment, you may think that you can’t bear to live in your house any longer without your husband, but thoughts can change with time. Continue living the life you are used to until you have a clear idea of how you may be able to make adjustments to your reduced income. Consider speaking with others to help you make decisions, family members or a professional adviser.
Re-Examine Your Future
With your family changing, you may need to take a look at changes in your future goals. Retirement might look a little different now. It doesn’t have to—if traveling during retirement was your goal as a couple, you might still be thinking about it on your own or with friends. But you may want to rethink where you’ll be living or how long you might be working. Take your time making any big decisions and definitely talk it over with more than one person before making any big decisions.
If you have younger children, don’t think you will need to put away thoughts of college or other expenses related to raising them. Social security actually pays more benefits to children than any other federal program.
While we don’t intent to give you a panicked or hopeless feeling, we do think there’s nothing wrong in being prepared for anything. So, even if you have your life and finances planned for two, it isn’t a bad idea to have a back-up plan should you find yourself a widow. Without such a plan, you could find the additional difficulty of managing a new financial situation on top of the heartbreak you have just suffered.