3 Things You Should Do After Your Spouse Dies

Losing a spouse can be one of the hardest things a person can go through. Today we discuss 3 Financial Things to Do When Your Spouse Dies

What Financial Things to Do When Your Spouse Dies

Financial Things to Do When Your Spouse Dies

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SPEAKERS

Alex Okugawa & Anthony Saffer

Anthony Saffer 0:00
Losing a spouse can be one of the most challenging things to go through. Today, we’re going to talk about three things you should do if you find yourself in this situation.

Hi there, it’s Anthony and Alex from One Degree Advisors. And if you’re new here, we’re Certified Financial Planners that help families with all things, investments, tax, and retirement. So Alex, today we’re talking about losing a spouse. I mean, there really is nothing more personal than going through that, that situation, it can be extremely difficult. And it really impacts everything when you’re talking finances and estate plan, your retirement accounts, your taxes.

Alex Okugawa 0:37
Yeah, and let’s be straight up here. I mean, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to pinpoint all the technicalities of what each individual person should do when their spouse passes away. Let me give you some examples like should someone file a Form 706 To take advantage of their deceased spouse’s unused estate and a tax estate tax exemption amount? You know, should they move their IRA into their own IRA, or be treated as a beneficiary? Ira? You don’t know. But we do have some generalities and things people should consider.

Anthony Saffer 1:11
Yeah, it reminds me of one of my good friends, he’s in law enforcement, and he talked about under times of pressure and stress, you want to use broad movements because your fine motor skills go down. And it really makes me think about when we work with widows, how really focusing on the big picture, getting things in order is really important. So number one is to just get organized.

Alex Okugawa 1:32
Yeah, and a lot of, in many cases, not always, in many cases, one spouse might be you know, the household CFO, that takes care of everything. And if you’re not in that situation, first, what you need to do is list out all of your assets and liabilities. So that can be things like bank accounts, investments, real estate, life insurance, loans, mortgages, etc. You want to get that on one page, so you can have some clarity of mind, what is it that I’m dealing with at this point in time? The second thing there is understanding your cash flow, and potentially what income may be changing. So a good example of this would be if someone has a pension, did that spouse’s pension, did it have any, as survivors benefit on it? Sometimes it’ll completely go away. Other times, you know, the surviving spouse may receive like 50, or 75% of that pension. Another thing is Social Security, right? So how will those social security benefits work out because you may be eligible for like spousal Social Security benefits? And then the last thing here to get organized after you’ve got your assets and liabilities, you understand your cash flow, is make sure you can locate those estate planning documents.

Anthony Saffer 2:43
Yeah, great. And then number two is to get your team involved. This is something when a spouse passes away, it’s a new thing we just don’t know what to do. When that comes up.

Alex Okugawa 2:52
The biggest mistake I see a lot of widows make, especially when their spouse passes away really quickly is they try and figure out this on their own. So they go internal, and they kind of lock-in and so to try and figure it out, because I like I gotta buckle down something serious has happened in the problem is that this can get complex really, really quickly. And so unless you know exactly what you’re doing, I mean, it is very easy to make some serious mistakes, no fault to you. It’s just these things can get complicated really quickly. So what I say is the first step here is if you have a financial planner, like a good financial advisor, is the first to talk to them. If you’re working with a good advisor, they’re going to be comprehensive in nature, they should know about all your assets and liabilities and income sources that will be changed. And really they should be and can be the quarterback for all you know the things that you need to do going forward. They may not be the expert in everything, but they really can be the quarterback to coordinate everything. The second piece here is to let your estate planning attorney know about this may have been years and maybe years since you’ve lost talk to your estate planning attorney. But you do need to get back in touch to let them know because depending on how your estate plan was written, there may need to be some updates. And some things may need to happen in a timely fashion and you can’t necessarily push it off. The last thing here is again, letting your tax preparer know because unfortunately, taxes impact everything in our lives. And this can impact your tax return if you’re going to be filing a joint return any more. If you need to adjust your tax or tax withholdings, things like that.

Anthony Saffer 4:27
Yeah, a good financial planner can also help lead the team and coordinate things and it takes a lot of the legwork off of you. And then number three is to give it time.

Alex Okugawa 4:36
Yeah, and I’ve seen this happen a lot. I’ll give you an example. You know, let’s just use her name as Sue. So what happens is, is when Sue’s husband passed away, it’s just it’s a very raw and emotional time. And she wanted to make some really big decisions like really big decisions that were going to impact her finances in her mind. She could justify them when I met with her she was like, No, this is what I want to do. here’s x, y, and z y. But from a third-party perspective sitting there, I’m like, This doesn’t seem like the best idea. And so really, my job and our job at one degree were to help her basically prolong this decision-making process to help her not make any big decisions right away. Because a lot of people are going to want to do that. Sometimes they, you know, do a lot of they look for outlets and other ways like they spend a lot of money. So the big thing there is just to give yourself grace, give yourself some time in this grieving process, it’s going to take time, and if you can, if you can avoid it, try to avoid making any big financial decisions right away. The last thing I’ll add here is really just to consider therapy and grief-sharing groups, right? This horrific experience is something that I hope I never have to experience. And one day I probably will. But talking with other people and getting some professional help in this area can really help you recover and heal a lot quicker.

Anthony Saffer 6:00
The truth is, there are very few things that actually need to be done right away. giving it time using your team, and your professional team to help out makes a big difference. Absolutely. And now let us know what you think. If you’ve lost a spouse, what advice would you give to other widows? Please leave your thoughts in the comments down below. And if you liked today’s content, please like and subscribe for more. Thanks for watching.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

The One Degree Blog

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