You’ve lost a spouse, be it through death or divorce.Now what?

When you are struggling with the emotions of losing a spouse, regardless of how it came about, it’s difficult to know what to do first.

There are so many decisions being thrown at you and it’s overwhelming. Here is a list to help you begin:

  1. If your spouse has passed away, the first thing you need to do is locate his/her legal documents. There may be information within those documents that give you information about their wishes for their funeral and burial arrangements. If you have gotten a divorce, those documents will need to be updated with new Powers of Attorney and new beneficiaries.
  2. Next, you’ll want to identify all assets. If you’re going through a divorce, this will need to be done prior to the divorce. Post-divorce, you will need to evaluate where you stand after assets are divided. Here is a partial list to get you started:
    • Insurance policies
    • Bank accounts
    • Investments including,
      • IRAs
      • 401(k)
      • Annuities
      • Brokerage accounts
  3. Then you will need to identify all your debt, including:
    • Mortgage/HELOC
    • Car payments
    • Credit cards
    • Any other bank loans
  4. Identify and change all passwords. Remember if you are divorcing, your ex-spouse knows all your security answers…first dog, mother’s maiden name, etc. You will need to create new answers; remember to write them down them so you can access them later if necessary. 
  5. Identify all your bills and when they are due. You will need to develop a cash flow to make sure you have the income to cover all your monthly expenses. If you are divorcing, this should be done prior to the divorce.
  6. Change all beneficiaries on accounts, including:
    • Insurance policies
    • Pensions
    • Retirement accounts
      • Annuities
      • Pensions (this is one that caught me, I forgot I had one)
      • 401(k)
      • IRAs
  7. Change titling on accounts, including:
    • Utilities
    • Bank Accounts
    • Vehicles
    • Mortgage – If divorcing this is very critical. You will need to refinance. If your ex-spouse is keeping the house, make sure he/she does this to remove your responsibility.
  8. Determine from this list what the critical items are and start with those. For everything, create a checklist from most urgent to least urgent and work through the list that way. Remember, each time you complete an item on the list, cross it off. There is great satisfaction that comes with that small act. When you are grieving the loss of a spouse, it is amazing how accomplishing a task will make you feel better.

This list is by no means complete, just a place to start when you feel so overwhelmed. Hopefully, this list will bring other items to mind and you can add them to your list. Remember to give yourself grace as you work through these tasks. Your brain isn’t functioning at 100% and it may be a while before it is. Take it slowly, and of course, let me know if I may be of assistance.

Investment advisory services offered through Equita Financial Network, Inc. (“Equita”). Equita also markets investment advisory services under the name Next Step Financial. The foregoing content reflects the opinions of the author(s) and is subject to change at any time without notice. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that the statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct.  

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