If your senior loved one recently lost their spouse, they’re going to need a lot of extra support and care as they face the future without their other half. As they start to move forward, your loved one will have a lot of weighty tasks ahead, like tackling financial decisions, deciding whether to downsize, and where to take their new direction in life. Insur Cali explains how having your help along the way will make it easier to shoulder a truly difficult transition.
Finding Important Documents
One of the first steps is to help your loved one find all important documents and financial records of the deceased. These include a will, estate documents, insurance policies, bank statements, birth, marriage, and death certificates, investment statements, and any other necessary legal documents. Once everything is collected, you can help your loved one get a better sense of their financial situation and begin the lengthy process of transferring financial ownership to their name.
Settling the Estate
The next step is to begin the process of settling the estate. It’s important to keep in mind that this could take as many as two years to settle. As CNBC points out, many people naturally name their spouse as their executor, so your loved one will need help as they carry out the terms of the will. This includes making sure all debts are paid, and distributing all assets to the persons named in the will.
File a Life Insurance Claim
If the deceased had life insurance, help your loved one file a life insurance claim. Contact the insurance agent or the insurance company to find out what needs to be included in the claim, and help your loved one gather the necessary paperwork. You can also contact Social Security to find out if your loved one can claim spousal benefits.
If your departed loved one had final expense coverage, you should contact the covering company. It may or may not be the same as their life insurance company. If they did not have this coverage, consider talking to the bereaved about adding a policy for them. This coverage can save grieving loved ones a lot of stress and financial burden in an already stressful time. Insur Cali offers final expense coverage and can help your loved one with changes to their Medicare policy, too, if needed.
Dealing with Short-Term Expenses
As you help your loved one sift through all the financial particulars, take some time to help calculate their short-term expenses. Some of the immediate expenses may include funeral costs and any outstanding debts the deceased may have had.
It’s possible your loved one may not have access to all of their spouse’s finances until the estate settlement is complete, and the short-term expenses could be a burden. If this happens, Sixty & Me advises encouraging your loved one to avoid making hasty or emotion-driven decisions like immediately selling the family home. Sit down together and come up with a reasonable plan to make it easier to handle these expenses.
Downsizing After the Death of a Spouse
Selling the family home could indeed provide significant financial help for your loved one. But there are a few other reasons to downsize after the death of a spouse. If your loved one has been living alone in a large home, downsizing is a chance to move into a smaller home that’s more manageable, and that has cheaper utility and upkeep needs. Fortunately, right now is a good time to sell a home in Laguna Niguel, California. Median sale prices have gone up over 20% in the last year and sold homes have averaged $1,265,000. If your loved one is considering selling and moving to a smaller home, this market could help provide financially for their new home and future healthcare needs, too.
Keep in mind, however, that downsizing can be a complex task on the heels of losing a spouse, so your loved one needs to have a lot of support in the decluttering, packing up, and moving process.
Finding the right place to live could also be a challenge, so help them as they consider all the options. They can find a smaller home or apartment in the same neighborhood, move closer to family, or move into an independent living community where there is the opportunity to meet new friends and reconnect with her peers. Help her see some of the positives as she navigates this difficult terrain.
Managing the Family Business
If your surviving or recently deceased loved one owned a business, you will need to help the bereaved decide how to handle it. If someone in the family wants to take over managing, little will change except some paperwork. However, if they decide to sell or close the business entirely, you will need to help them through the process. Start by getting a current valuation of the business, and gathering all relevant documents, including those related to business debts. The following processes will vary depending on if the business is an LLC or a Corporation. It’s important to get all of the steps done correctly, so find a good guide and follow step-by-step until you have completed the process.
Encourage Stress Management
With so much to think about on top of managing such a heavy loss, it’s likely your loved one won’t be thinking about managing her stress. Everyone manages grief differently, but it has a funny way of taking a significant toll. Exorbitant stress can cause health risks like heart disease, depression and anxiety, obesity, and even Alzheimer’s disease. With this in mind, encourage your loved one to take it one day at a time, and to apply proper stress management techniques such as acknowledging stress for what it is, taking deep breaths, and stopping worrisome trains of thought in their tracks. Stress is inevitable, but it shouldn’t consume her.
As your loved one comes to terms with her new life, know that they are likely to experience a lot of ups and downs along the way. Your job is to give them the room and support they need. With love and patience, you can help your loved one move forward.
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