Seniors Face Tough Financial Decisions After Losing Their Spouse

Tough financial decisions are an unfortunate inevitability for married seniors when one spouse dies before the other. This can lead the surviving senior to face many financial decisions alone that they never had to make before. As a friend or family member, you may want to help. Here, we take a look at ways you can be of service as your senior grieves through the red tape of death.

Tone Matters

Your first and most important duty as someone trying to help is to provide your support without judgment. While your senior loved one may be in the midst of grief, you must remember that they are adults and are capable of making their own decisions, even if you don’t agree with them. Be compassionate, informative, and listen to their needs and concerns as you present a helping hand.

Entrepreneurship Concerns

As many senior couples are also business owners, something you can do to help reduce stress and anxiety is to get them in touch with a contract law and business counseling attorney. Carter DeYoung can sit with your senior and discuss the pros and cons of selling if they believe they can’t handle the business on their own or if they would simply like to retire. With the senior’s permission, you should also seek a business valuation from a professional. This will give them a real number to work with on what the business might be worth. Keep in mind that this should include everything from real property to current inventory in stock.

Living Arrangements

The death of a spouse is one of the leading causes for seniors to live alone. Unfortunately, this can result in isolation and loneliness, and that can take a significant toll on your loved one’s physical and emotional health. Your senior may decide that it’s in their best interests to sell their home, especially if they have to pay for medical and funeral expenses. Do some research by looking at local housing prices to see what your senior might expect to get from their property. Keep in mind, however, that they will have to find a new living arrangement, so it might help to speak with a realtor about inventory in their price range.

Record-Keeping

Death comes with an unfortunate amount of paperwork, and there are many phone calls to make in the days and weeks after someone passes. From the bank to the mortgage company to the insurance company, someone will be on the phone pretty much constantly. If possible, sit with your friend or family member while they discuss financial matters and take notes to help them remember what was said. You may also help organize your loved one’s bills. If possible, set up automatic payments for expenses that don’t change often or significantly, such as the mortgage, cell phone, and health insurance. The Finance Buzz blog cautions against putting the cable or short-term bills on auto payment.

Other Ways You Can Help

  • Organize life insurance policies and make sure that your loved one has the numbers and contact information.
  • Assist your elderly relative with filing for benefits, such as the $255 Social Security benefit. While it might not be much, every little bit helps as funeral prices continue to rise.
  • Talk to them about their budget. New Retirement reports that seniors age 75 and older may only have an income in the mid-$30,000s. After settling their spouse’s final expenses, money may be tight.

Losing a long-term spouse is a devastating event, but the financial aspects of your loved one’s life must continue to move forward. You can help. Whether they need to sell a home or business or simply need a helping hand making sure their money covers their bills, the above tips are non-intrusive and compassionate ways you can lend a hand.

The Carter DeYoung legal team can be reached at 508.771.4210.

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