By Michael Gold, CFP®, MBA, Founder & CEO, Wealth Advisor
The death of a spouse deals a devastating emotional blow while also creating financial challenges with long-term implications. Here are a few key action steps that require proactive follow-up by the surviving spouse to help alleviate potential issues.
Be Wary Of Scams
Following a recent loss, grieving families are especially vulnerable, particularly to scams. Unscrupulous individuals commonly take advantage of a recent death to exploit their would-be victims, often by following newspaper obituaries and contacting bereaved family members. You may receive a phone call from a scammer who claims to be a debt collector, the IRS, or an employee of a government agency such as the Social Security Administration. So-called inheritance scams are also common, wherein a con artist may ask for payment or sensitive information as if to help you collect an inheritance. Make sure to verify the identity and legitimacy of anyone who asks for money or sensitive information, and request a callback number.
Notify Appropriate Parties And Agencies
Upon the death of your spouse, you will need to contact several parties and agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, the three major credit bureaus – deceased individuals are often the targets of identity theft – your spouse’s employer, banks, creditors including your mortgage holder, and all insurance companies that list your spouse on a policy. You also need to contact any institutions managing your spouse’s investment accounts (or any jointly owned investment accounts) and update the title deeds for your home, vehicles and any other property. It’s also important to notify the professionals you rely on for assistance with financial matters, such as your tax professional, attorney and financial advisor.
Avoid Major Decisions, But Review Your Documents
Everything changes when a spouse dies. You may need to make substantial changes to your living situation, such as downsizing or moving. If possible, it is generally best to avoid signing contracts during the bereavement period, but you might find it helpful to gather information, organize your documents, and start thinking through what your new life and financial picture will look like. I often emphasize the importance of reviewing your documents and beneficiaries at least once every three years, even if it seems like not much has changed. You should review your health coverage, employee benefits, life insurance policies, retirement accounts and other investments.
Reevaluate Your Retirement Plan And Estate Plan
The sudden tragedy of a spouse’s death might require you to adjust your long-term financial plans. You may need to make changes to your lifestyle and your retirement strategy as your family adjusts to a new reality. Unfortunately, grieving families sometimes need to make time sensitive decisions while emotions are still raw. Your financial advisor can help during this difficult time by serving as an objective third party, providing you with critical guidance.
Whether you have recently suffered the loss of a spouse or see the value in preparing for the unexpected, we at Gold Family Wealth are here to help. Reach out to me at [email protected] or (800) 303-2533 to schedule a complimentary consultation.
Michael Gold is the founder & CEO – Wealth Advisor of Gold Family Wealth, an independent wealth management boutique and named one of The Top 100 Magazine’s 2020 Top 100 People in Finance. Michael has 20 years of experience in the financial industry and has a bachelor’s degree in business and economics from the State University of New York College at Oneonta, an MBA from NYU Stern School of Business, specializing in Quantitative Finance and Leadership and he is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional. He serves business owners and entrepreneurs by stress-testing their financial plan to identify red flags and missed opportunities. Michael strategically outsources knowledgeable professionals from various fields, such as tax, insurance, retirement and trust, and estate law to collaborate on potential solutions to help position his clients to pursue their desired goals.
Michael currently lives in Westport, CT. When he is not working, you can find him spending time with his wife, Giselle, their three children, Sebastian, Aria, and Pierce, and their dog, Charly. To learn more about Michael, connect with him on LinkedIn.
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