Investment News notes that 66 percent of adult children fire their parents’ advisor after receiving their inheritance.1 The problem is even worse with surviving spouses, as more than 70 percent of all widows fire the family advisor following their spouse’s death, according to Investopedia.2 One third of women who become widows are younger than 65, according to the Women’s Institute For a Secure Retirement
Losing a spouse in a blink of an eye can be wrenching and the saddest moments of a person’s life. Money is the last thing you want to think about. You want someone else to deal with it for you; but you can’t.
#1 Go slow, but be diligent. Try to schedule a certain chunk of time each day to devote to urgent financial tasks and stick to it. Accomplishing one task a day will give you a semblance of order and can be empowering. Many widows get in too much of a hurry to make everything alright, to get back to a “normal” that feels better. “What they need to realize is that they are not going to feel normal again for a considerable period of time. The grieving process takes time.
#2 Obtain death certificates. When someone dies, the death must be registered with the local or state vital records office within a matter of days, which can then issue you copies. Expect to make two dozen copies or so of the death certificates, which you’ll send to financial institutions ranging from credit card companies to your mortgage holder to your husband’s life insurer.
#3 Notify your spouse’s employer, IRA financial institutions and life insurer. File for any benefits owed to you such as pension income, a 401(k) and life insurance. If you were namedbeneficiary to your husband’s 401(k) you may be required to take a lump-sum distribution. With an inherited IRA, you can roll over the assets into an account in your name. (Also, be sure to change the beneficiary on your own retirement accounts if you’d previously named your husband. )
#4 Contact the Social Security Administration. You may be eligible for survivor’s benefits if you’re 60 or older or you’re younger but have kids under 16 living with you. For more, read the Social Security Survivors Benefits booklet. You can also apply for a $255 funeral expense reimbursement.
#5 If your husband was a veteran, contact the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. This agency might also pay up to $2,000 in burial expenses.
Widows refrain from investing lump sum insurance or pension payouts for at least six months, and ideally a year. Until then, the best place to stash the money is in a money-market fund or money-market account, short-term certificates of deposit or Treasury bills.
Most importantly for unbiased guidance, look for a fee-based fiduciary Advisor!