7 Steps for Widows and Widowers to Manage Their First Year Alone, Ep # 196

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By Benjamin Brandt CFP®, RICP® and Benjamin Brandt CFP®. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Nobody wants to think about becoming a widow or widower, but unfortunately, if you are married, there is a 50/50 chance that you could. In addition to the crushing grief that comes with losing a spouse, there are many details to take care of in that first year alone. This is why I want to share an article with you from NextAvenue.org.

The article, written by Anna Byrne, outlines 7 steps that you can take to help manage that first year on your own. Anna was only 28 years old when she lost her husband, so she has firsthand experience with this overwhelming stage of life. Her professional estate planning experience also lends practical tips to the article. Don’t miss this episode so that you know what you can do to help keep your head above water during that first year alone.

Outline of This Episode
  • [2:22] 7 steps to take to manage the first year of widowhood
  • [8:34] My top 2 tips for a new widow or widower
  • [10:26] A question on the ACA subsidy under the American Rescue Plan
7 steps to manage the first year of widowhood

There’s no doubt that losing a spouse will cause overwhelming grief, but on top of that, there is so much to do in the wake of this personal tragedy. To help you wrap your head around all that there is to do, Anna Byrne from NextAvenue.org came up with 7 steps to help you through this challenging time.

Step 1 - Take care of immediate things. The small steps matter early on. You’ll need to notify family members and advisors right away. You’ll also need to make decisions about organ donation and funeral arrangements. Lean on family and friends if possible.

Step 2 - Find and organize key documents. Whether you want it or not, you are now in control of all aspects of your finances. You’ll need to find and organize important documents. Make sure to call your estate planning attorney if you used one since they will have the original will in their office. They will also have useful information to guide you through this process.

Step 3 - Take inventory of your financial situation. This is a good time to take inventory of your assets. You’ll want to create a list of all assets and debts owed by you and your partner. A good place to start is by looking at your tax returns since they detail itemized income and list the financial institutions. Look for bank accounts, retirement accounts, pensions, life insurance, real estate deeds, and Social Security information.

Step 4 - Pull the pieces together. Every state has different laws and procedures regarding wills and probate. Familiarize yourself with the probate process in your state. You’ll also want to have a good understanding of the value of your spouse’s assets at the time of death since this is how estate taxes are calculated.

Step 5 - Build a team of trusted advisors. Having a financial and legal advisor that you can count on will help you navigate this process and avoid difficulties down the road.

Step 6 - Plan for your immediate future. Create a new household budget and develop your own financial and retirement objectives.

Step 7 - Plan things for your loved ones. Now it’s time to get your own affairs in order. This is a good time to update your will, power of attorney, and health care directive. Update your beneficiaries and create trusts as needed.

Listen in to hear my own top two tips for a recent widow or widower. Stick around for the listener questions as Linda asks about the ACA subsidy under the American Rescue Plan.

Don’t miss our summer travel series!

Over the course of the summer, we’ll sprinkle in travel episodes among the usual retirement planning content. When I was working with my clients for their May tax planning, the number one non-tax-related topic on their minds was travel. Everyone is excited to start traveling again. This is why I’ve been reaching out to folks in the travel blogging space, so we can all learn tips and tricks to make the most out of travel. If you are looking for travel hacks, rewards programs, and budget travel make sure to tune in this summer.

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