Losing your spouse can be an important moment in your life, during which you need a lot of time for support and healing from friends and family. You’ll want to assemble a trusted team of experts who can help a new widow through new and possibly uncharted territory.
You may already have a professional and personal support network, which is a great start, but it’s important to identify any gaps in your support community and then engage professionals you trust to educate and empower you.
So, where do you start? Here’s a look at some of the key professionals you need on your team and the role they’ll play in your life.
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A financial advisor is one of the most trusted members of your team. The person you choose must be a trusted, fee-only advisor. Many widows already have a relationship with a financial advisor upon their spouse’s death, but end up switching to another advisor who they feel is a better fit.
By some estimates, more than 80% of widows switch from the financial advisor originally chosen by their spouse. In many cases, the advisor had a relationship with the deceased spouse and did not fully involve the female half in the financial-planning and investment process.
Your financial advisor can help you solve your immediate financial problems, such as settling portions of an estate, but their main purpose is to help you plan for your long-term financial future. For example, you may need to reallocate your investments.
While it may be tempting to leave your investment accounts allocated as they are while your spouse is alive, this move may not be in your best interest. You will have different financial concerns as a widow than you would as a couple. You may consider downsizing, moving closer to the grandchildren, or even pursuing a new career. All of these changes require input from a financial planner to see how your new life will work best financially.
Make sure you start by only interviewing financial advisors who are trustworthy, Who will always act in you best interest and gives you independent, unbiased advice. A certified financial planner who is qualified, trustworthy and understands your unique needs and goals can help you get your new financial life on track.
Estate planning attorney
It is a good idea to hire an accredited lawyer in your area whose primary focus is estate and trust law. Finding the right attorney can sound intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Your financial planner likely has many trusted relationships with estate planning attorneys and can introduce you to a professional in your area.
Alternatively, you can reach out to friends and family for recommendations or visit the National Association of Estate Planners and Counselors. (opens in new tab) website and the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys (opens in new tab) Website to find a reputable estate planner in your state.
It is also important to find your spouse’s original will and make an appointment to review it with your lawyer. If you can’t locate the original will, the estate planning attorney who drafted your document may be able to help you.
Also, discuss any state and federal estate taxes with your attorney. Be sure to also ask about any unexpected one-time death-related expenses. Your attorney will help you with estate court filings, creditor notifications and asset distribution, making the process as simple and straightforward as possible.
Therapist, grief counselor or other mental health professional
In addition to dealing with your financial future, your mental and emotional health is extremely important. The loss of a spouse can be one of the most emotional events in life we face, after the loss of a child. You have not only lost your life partner, but also the future you had planned for.
Bereavement counseling, also known as bereavement counseling, can be important in helping you cope with the death of your spouse. A good grief counselor will provide a safe space to discuss your feelings, help you get through this difficult time, and develop tools and strategies for healing.
Loss and grief expert Diane Brennan (opens in new tab) Advises, “Working with a counselor is beneficial for widows as they navigate grief and find ways to rebuild their lives after a loss. Both individual counseling sessions and support groups can be effective in introducing tools for grief. Individual counseling offers personalized attention and a personal space to work through all the emotions and feelings associated with the loss, while support groups give widows a safe space to connect with others to ‘get it’. For most widows, grief never completely disappears, although with time (and counselling), it becomes less acute and stops getting in the way of future happiness.”
Grief affects everyone differently and at different times. It is important not to go through this alone! Your estate planning attorney and financial advisor can likely direct you to a professional experienced in grief counseling.
Psychology TodayIts online database (opens in new tab) It is also a good tool when looking for a mental health professional to support you.
This article is written and presented by our contributing advisors, not Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check the advisor’s record with the SEC (opens in new tab) or with FINRA (opens in new tab).