There are few things in life more challenging than dealing with the death of a spouse. You are grieving. You are in shock. You are overwhelmed. You also have so many questions. And on top of that, you have mentally created your own laundry list of decisions and a mounting to-do list in your head. While it is true that decisions need to be made, widows and widowers need to understand that not everything has to be done right now.
You are allowed to take your time, process your grief, and focus only on the items that will make this new journey a little easier. Hopefully, you have a well-crafted estate plan in place to eliminate a few to-do items automatically. Beyond that, here is an easy way to break down what should be done now vs. all the other “stuff” you can and should deal with later.
Sharing your burden
Rely on your support system — This is undoubtedly one of the hardest times of your life. Turn to family, close friends, ministers, and counselors for emotional and spiritual support. Focus on surrounding yourself with people who love you.
Lean on trusted professionals for financial and business matters — Now is not the time to take on big financial or business decisions alone. It is also not wise to allow friends to advise you in these areas. Professionals are constantly updating their information to include the latest laws and are constantly changing financial realities. Lean on them to do the heavy lifting so that any decisions you need to make are less stressful and easier to handle as you continue to grieve.
Address your immediate financial situation — Determine your resources and necessary expenditures. Keep paying recurring expenses such as credit card payments, house and car payments, and taxes current to avoid late charges and damage to your credit rating. You must also immediately deal with your bank to determine your liquid assets. There may be unexpected changes. The bank may have frozen your accounts if they are not jointly owned. The Social Security Administration may also reclaim your spouse’s most recent Social Security deposit.
Stuff you can deal with later
Even after you have weathered the overwhelming task of getting through those first few months, there will be more decisions to be made. Many of those can wait and often should wait.
Prioritize these decisions to determine which ones need attention first and which ones you can address later:
- Decide if you want to remain in your home or sell it and relocate.
- Review investments and determine if anything needs to change.
- Update your estate plans, budget for your new circumstances, and determine if you want to make changes in your lifestyle or activities.
No matter how many decisions or changes you face, you will handle them better with appropriate and plentiful support. Having the right people and plans in place before your spouse passes away will help more than anything else.
Call Leigh Hilton PLLC today!!
Call Leigh Hilton PLLC and we will help walk you through all of your estate planning needs. We have ample experience and will take into consideration your particular situation. Proper planning of an estate, whether through a Will, Trust, or both, helps ensure your wishes are carried out.
Leigh Hilton PLLC wants to be your first call every time for any estate planning need. We look forward to serving you.