Financial Issues When Losing a Spouse

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Let’s close this series on financial issues for women with things to consider when a spouse dies.  This especially affects women, but is certainly relevant to men as well.  Statistically, women live longer than men, are younger than their husbands, and are thus more likely to outlive their husbands.  Two-thirds of women age 75-84 are on their own.  Be prepared. 

  • Know the location of important documents and all account information.
  • Have a list of whom to contact for important benefits, pensions, and insurance.
  • Nursing homes have twice as many women as men, so consider “long-term care insurance” to help pay for nursing homes and some in-home assistance.  Premiums can be expensive, but not as much if you get it before age 50.
  • Do a new budget to compare your new income and expense levels.
  • Update your will and beneficiaries.
  • If you are getting a pension that was reduced to provide a survivor benefit for your spouse, send in a death certificate and have the reduction ended.
  • Do not feel pressured to make big financial decisions soon after your spouse’s death, such as what to do with the life insurance.
  • Don’t fall for scams that prey upon the elderly with plans that are too good to be true or you don’t understand.  Wait before signing up.  Get a second opinion even if you need to hire a professional.
  • Do remember that paying off debts is usually a wise choice.
  • Note that you still need to plan for your investments to last for the rest of your life which may still require some stocks in your investments.  At age 70, a woman can still expect to live on average another 16+ years.  See SSA’s life expectancy calculator for any age:
  • If you are living alone, have a support network to help you.  Add a trusted maid, plumber, and a handyman to your contacts list.  If you own a house, you may already have a lawn service.  If the children have moved several states away, get a network of friends, church members, club members, professionals, etc.
  • Consider using trusted professionals including a financial advisor, tax preparer, or attorney to get advice from.  They may be expensive, but doing certain financial things without them can be even worse as we age.

See my page providing resources for seniors:

And dealing with the loss of a spouse:

About John Kimball

Over the past few decades, I have experienced most of these financial issues with both mistakes and successes. I sure wish someone had told me these things when I was first starting out. So many times I have cried out, "I want a do over!" when I learned a new financial lesson or tip. I aim to pass along to you the financial insights I have gained from experience, reading, analysis, and living the financial aspects of managing, saving, investing, and spending your money. I am an analyst with a large organization and happily married with two children on their way to an expensive college, no doubt. I read numerous financial blogs, websites, newsletters, magazines, newspapers, and books to bring you the latest news, insights, tips, and lessons combined with decades of experience.

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