Nothing can prepare us for the loss of the one we love most. If you have lost your spouse, please know that Allegiant Private Advisors is prepared to help you navigate the difficult days ahead and a path forward.
Marriage is a commitment to a life-long partner. However, when we recite the traditional wedding vows, "to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part," most of us can't imagine our husband or wife dying. The death of a spouse is one of the most challenging moments any of us can endure, but widows and widowers can seek support and guidance from trusted advisors working with only their best interests in mind.
Allegiant advisors are your advocates, ready to assist—and take the lead—handling important paperwork which can be so overwhelming. Our knowledgeable and caring team of professionals understands everything is difficult right now. We can help you find your footing.
Our advisors have shared this list of practical advice for widows and widowers:
Create a File of Important Documents and Keep it in a Safe Place
- Estate Documents
Locate your spouse's estate planning documents, specifically the will and trust document (if applicable). Schedule a meeting with your estate planning attorney. He/she will explain any specifics in the documents as well as suggest changes for your own documents.
- Death Certificate
It will be necessary to provide a death certificate to your bank(s) and investment firm(s) to update accounts in addition to your life insurance company to file a claim. Some firms may accept an electronic copy but we recommend asking the funeral home to provide 10-15 certified copies. The certified copy is embossed with a government seal and is generally required to do things like claiming Social Security survivor benefits, collecting life insurance proceeds, opening a probate court proceeding, and claiming assets in an account with a stated beneficiary (such as retirement accounts, transfer-on-death or payable-on-death accounts).
- Investment Accounts
Create an inventory of all accounts owned by you and your spouse. If you have online access, note the username and password.
- For joint accounts you had with your spouse, these will become solely owned by you. Consider adding a TOD ("transfer on death") designation which will allow you to state a beneficiary and have the asset avoid probate at your passing. If you have a revocable trust already set up, you may want to consider retitling that account in the name of the trust.
- If you have accounts spread across multiple firms, consolidating into one or two firms may make your life simpler.
- Insurance Policies
Life, disability, health, long-term care, auto, homeowners, and umbrella: You may need to update the policy owner and/or beneficiaries.
Gather tax returns from the past 2-3 years. Notify your CPA and schedule a meeting. If you filed a joint tax return with your spouse, you will do the same for the tax year in which he/she passed.
- Regular Bills
Review current bills including loan payments so you understand the ongoing cash flow necessary to cover these bills. Set up auto pay when possible and make sure you maintain enough in your checking account to cover the bills.
Start to Consider Your Financial Plan
Think about how your income and expenses will change, if at all. Now is the time to update your financial plan to make sure you are comfortable with your situation or explore any necessary changes.
It's Not All About the Money
This is, by far, one of the most overwhelming and difficult times in your life. Try to avoid making big decisions that don't NEED to be made right now. And please, make sure you are eating well, exercising, and getting enough rest. When emotions run high, stress can have devastating effects on our bodies. Practicing yoga and breathing exercises can be a big help.
An independent financial planner will be able to help you pull all of the pieces of your puzzle together and make sense of it. Their job—our job at Allegiant—is to understand your goals and provide objective advice. Once you know where you stand, you'll be able to determine how to move forward—and Allegiant can help you every step of the way.