Shaping the Next Chapter: Financial Guidance for Widows

Lauren Smith |

Losing a spouse is one of the most heartbreaking experiences anyone can go through. As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, I have been in the position to help many widows navigate the complex financial landscape after such a loss. So you can trust me when I say that I really understand that dealing with finances is often the last thing you want to think about during this time. Nonetheless, there are many important decisions you will need to make, even amidst your grief.  So today, I’d like to offer you a roadmap to guide you through the financial aspects of this new chapter of your life. From accessing benefits to re-evaluating your financial goals, consider this your supportive guide to finding stability and peace in an otherwise tumultuous time.

The Immediate Steps

  1. Gather Important Documents: As overwhelming as it might be, your first step should involve gathering all essential financial documents. These can include wills, insurance policies, bank statements, investment portfolios and any other relevant records.
  2. Notify Relevant Parties: Reach out to your spouse's employer, insurance company and financial institutions. They can guide you through the necessary procedures for transferring assets or accessing benefits.
  3. Consult a Financial Advisor: If you don't already have a financial advisor, now is an excellent time to engage one. They can provide objective advice tailored to your unique situation, helping you avoid potentially costly mistakes.

Accessing Benefits

  1. Social Security: If you're of age, you might be eligible for survivor's benefits from Social Security. The exact amount varies based on your age, your spouse's earning history, and other factors.
  2. Insurance Payouts: Life insurance is often a key financial safety net. Contact your spouse's insurance provider to start the process of claiming the benefits you're entitled to.
  3. Pension Plans: If your spouse had a pension, you might be eligible to receive benefits. The specifics will depend on the plan's rules, but it's crucial to consult a professional to explore your options.

Re-Evaluating Your Financial Goals

Losing a spouse often necessitates a re-evaluation of your financial goals and planning. Here are some key steps:

  1. Update Your Budget: Your income and expenses will change, and it's essential to develop a new budget that reflects your current situation.
  2. Revise Your Investment Strategy: Depending on your financial obligations and goals, you may need to adjust your investment portfolio. For instance, if you were previously saving for a retirement that included your spouse, your strategy might need some alterations.
  3. Estate Planning: While it might seem daunting to think about, updating your estate planning documents is crucial. This includes revising your own will, power of attorney and any other relevant legal documents.

Emotional Resilience and Financial Stability

Finally, remember that it's perfectly acceptable to ask for emotional support while you navigate these financial challenges. No one should go through this alone. Don't hesitate to reach out to trusted friends and family or consult a therapist who can provide emotional guidance.

This same concept extends to all areas of your life, including professional financial advice, which can provide a much-needed anchor during this turbulent time. My team at Green Financial Group and I are here to support you in this new chapter of your life.

Remember, you are stronger than you think, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. You will get through this, and you will find your footing once again—financially, emotionally and otherwise.


Please Note: Any opinions are those of Lauren Smith and not necessarily those of Raymond James.  The information contained in this blog does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material.  Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice.  Every investor's situation is unique and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Prior to making an investment decision, please consult with your financial advisor about your individual situation.  Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.