Are you prepared to take over financial responsibilities when a spouse dies unexpectedly?
Sudden loss of a spouse and being unprepared can not only be emotionally challenging but financially as well.
Dealing with grief and loss is never easy. It can be even more complicated if you are a woman who lost her spouse and now must do the job of two people.
Here are some tips to help you get your finances in order.
Don’t wait for too long to take a financial decision
Typically, it is seen that many women postpone making financial decisions after the death of their spouse for far too long. Instead of delaying everything, the best course of action would be to classify it into three piles: urgent, soon, and later. Depending on the situation, the tasks in the last pile may not be completed within two years or longer.
For instance, in the case of a stay-at-home mom with children with no financial support, it becomes urgent to look for a job or an income source.
Take stock of your financial situation
Things won’t remain the same after the death of your spouse. Even though it seems like the hardest thing to do, it is essential to consider your current situation and how losing your husband may affect your overall financial status. You need to look if immediate significant changes are required.
Making a list of your income and monthly spending can help you understand where you stand and the required actions needed going forward. Additionally, it is important to take stock of assets and liabilities and look into bank statements, investments, property documents and insurance policies before making any financial decisions.
Get familiar with bills
You need to get familiar with and organise the various utility bills. You might receive bills through the post. Keep track of these unopened mails and create an organisational system. Check the cheque book or online banking portal to see if there are any outstanding or regular obligations. Check your spouse’s email account if you have access to it for any electronic reminders of upcoming bills.
It is important to make a list of every bill you can find, including utility, credit card, rent, loan EMIs, and other expenses. Cancel any services or subscriptions that just apply to your spouse.
Submit a life insurance claim
A life insurance policy comes in handy to take care of a family’s financial needs after the spouse’s demise. An adequate life cover will take care of necessary expenses and help you and your family members take care of your financial goals.
You can claim your husband’s life insurance policy by getting in touch with the life insurance agent. Some policies make a lump sum payment, while others have regular payouts.
Depending on the type of payout, it is important to plan it accordingly. In case of a lump sum payout, you can park your funds in your savings account or a liquid fund and then make an investment plan as per your requirements.
Think about long-term investments
Just pause if you believe that you can’t take risks like investing in equities like your husband. Selling entire equity investments might not be the best possible solution.
You might want to look at your former spouse’s long-term investments in equity mutual funds or stocks and the objectives behind them before making any financial decision.
Check if there is any requirement to rebalance these existing long-term investments. If the current scenario calls for a portfolio rebalance, it is crucial to make the required changes.
One of the best ways to invest for long-term goals is to start investing at regular intervals through Systematic Investment Plan (SIP). You can calculate the required amount you need to invest every month at the expected rate of return and timeframe with the help of a goal planner.
Compiling your late husband’s finances into easily understandable shapes is not easy. However, it is possible if you tackle things systematically and keep your focus on the funds intended to take care of the financial obligations that are left behind by your husband after his death. Women who lost their spouses are uniquely vulnerable to financial trouble, so it’s vital to pay attention to certain factors that might cause problems for you.
Padmaja Choudhury is a freelance financial content writer. With around six years of total experience, mutual funds and personal finance are her focus areas.