While looking for financial help for widows online, I realised that there was not a lot of information provided. It seems that widows have been forgotten. But don’t worry, financial help exists and I will give you tips about where to find it.
The first thing to do, if you can afford it, is to take the time grieve.
Once the funerals will be over, once the family and friends will have left, returning to their daily routine, once the world will slowly start to turn again as it always did, then it will be time to decide what you’ll do. Important financial decisions will have to be taken so that you can carry on on your own. But, they don’t have to be taken right now!
Remember that there is no rush. Make sure you take the time to review your options and think about them before signing anything. Those decisions will determine your future.
12 tips to help
#1 Don’t be impulsive and seek for help
I know it’s tempting to buy a small camper and travel all around the country. I know it’s tempting to book a flight to Bora Bora or sell the house, but maybe it is best to just get into the routine and take your time to consider all the options.
Seek the presence of one of your loved ones, someone your trust. It’s important to have some time alone but also to get help from the family and friends. It’s a tough time to go through. Don’t be shy to ask. They want to help you. They might just don’t know how to say it right now.
Set appointments with your attorney, accountant and financial planner. You’re going to need them soon. Let them handle or guide you through the process. They’ve been there before. If you don’t have such financial advisors around you, than ask someone you trust to help you out finding ones. Make your due diligence on them and verify their experience and their references.
#2 Probate the will and get the death certificate
If you’ve been named as the executor of the estate, then you’ll have to probate the will. Your attorney will help you with that. Most financial institutions will also ask you for the proof of death so you might get that too as soon as possible.
#3 Call the life insurance
If you have bought life insurance for you and your husband, then call the insurance company. You should also verify with his employer or yours if you’re entitled to life insurance there too. It is pretty usual.
Credit cards and mortgage creditors also often offer life insurance when you sign a contract with them. There might be money to get there too.
When you’ll discuss with the companies, they’ll probably want you to invest the insurance money into an annuity that they offer. Don’t be surprised. But, before doing anything here, take the time to think about it and consult with your financial planner. Once the money will be deposited into your account, you’ll have plenty of time to decide if you want to buy an annuity or not.
An annuity is a product that will pay you a fix amount of cash every month in exchange of all your capital. Once signed, you can’t get the capital back… It’s tied in there! You might not want to do that yet or even ever… Also, if you decide to sign an annuity, you must shop for the best interest rate. It can vary a lot between companies and this will affect the monthly check you would receive.
There might be better options for you. Consult with your financial planner.
Warren Buffett has advised his estate to invest 90% of their money in index funds and 10% in treasury bonds…
I personally invest in dividend growth stocks, plus I have a defined benefits pension plan, index funds and public plans…
Everyone has his own plan and his own tolerance to risk. You’ll have to take the time to discover yours.
#4 Review bills and account ownership
Make a list of all the instalments that you make every month. Some were in a joint account, others were in his or your account. You’ll have to clean that up. Contact the financial institutions and update the accounts. Cancel unnecessary payments and accounts like credit cards. You might need the death certificate here and the proof that you are the executor to modify account ownerships.
Financial institutions will help you and guide you through the process.
Also contact the phone and cable company, the cell phone company, review every subscriptions he had…
If your husband had a car, don’t cut the insurance right now. It must remain insured until you decide what to do with it. If you decide to sell it, cancel the insurance only when the transfer of property will have been made.
#5 Apply for government survival benefits
Depending of you age and marital situation, you might be entitled to one or many benefits. The best thing to do here is to pay a visit to your local Social Security Administration Office.
You might be entitled to receive a Social Security death benefit that could help you pay for the funerals. You might also be allowed to get security retirement benefits and employer benefits if he still had a job. Call his HR department to see what you’re entitled to in terms of benefits (insurance and pension plans). If you are over 60, survivor benefits might also be available for you.
#6 Call the US Department of Veterans affairs
If your husband was a Veteran, then call the Veterans Administration to have a chat with them. You may be entitled to some benefits there too.
#7 He was receiving Disability benefits?
If your husband was receiving disability benefits, then often, the wife has rights into part of that too. Call the insurer.
Most insurance contract will give you 50% of what he was receiving until the expiration date of the contract (usually 65 years old). This may vary from contract to contract.
#8 Pension plans
You should be eligible to receive benefits of most defined benefits pension plan your husband was entitled too. If he was working for a public administration or a large company, chances are you’ll get something from there.
#9 Consult with your accountant
It’s unfortunate but you’ll have to fill out his tax to close the estate. This can become a daunting task. Consult with an accountant. He will guide you through or do it for you.
#10 Be careful of financial wolves
You are not 100% yourself right now. Also, managing finance might be something new for you. It’s not the time to become the prey of a wolf… and unfortunately there are a lot. I wouldn’t sign anything right away. Beware of “new friends” always talking to you about money and giving you financial advice. Beware of people pretending that your husband talked to them in a dream… I know it sounds weird, but it might happen to you.
Take all your time here. There is no rush to sell the house. There is no rush to buy an annuity. There is no rush to take any big financial decisions.
#11 Some family members or friends might ask you for money
They know that you received a big amount from life insurance. Life insurance is there to help you create a fund in order to receive income from now on until your death. Even if you have received 200,000$, which seems big, you’ll soon realize that it’s not that big… You won’t get that much of an allowance from that amount if you’re still young. So, it’s not there to make loans to family members or friends unable to meet ends… They can call their bank and ask for a loan.
This amount is there to help you deal with YOUR financial issues.
#12 You have kids?
If you are a single mom and a widow, than you might be entitled to other benefits. Financial help for single mom is the subject of another huge post but until I write it, just type “Financial help for single mother” in Google and you should find many interesting stuff.
As a single mom, you are offered plenty of new opportunities like help with the rent, help with scholarship, help paying bills etc…
With the insurance funds in hand, you have plenty of time to think about your future alone. Take it. It’s important not to let others decide of your future and of your finance. Take the time to learn and get advice from different professionals. You don’t have to act on everything they say.
There are good advisors and bad advisors. Make sure to ask for references and verify with the competent authority to see if complaints were filled against them. Remember that most of these advisors are paid on commission. They want you to buy something so they can be paid.
The decisions you’re going to take now will have a major impact in your life and on your finance.
Seek professional advice, take your time and take the time to grieve before taking any major decisions.
I am not a professional advisor. Please verify with professionals and registered advisors before taking any financial decisions.
Image courtesy of Dan / From FreeDigitalPhotos.net