Now that the funeral is over you will start getting a ton of mail. It was overwhelming to me! My mom came to my house a couple of times a week to help me sort it out, call who I needed to, turn in important papers, deal with life insurance, apply for Social Security, etc. It was really hard for me to concentrate in the first few months. What was really hard was the financial decisions that Jay and I used to make together and NOW it was only up to me! I remember crying when I received his life insurance check. I had no idea what to do with it. I was thinking, “It should have been me who died because I have no idea financially what to do and Jay would have known!” I felt when I said that, the answer was to pay off all of our debt except the first mortgage. Then put the rest in the bank to help me raise the kids for a few years until I could start seeing straight again. I stuck with that answer. I’m not sure it was the best decision, though, and have thought back to that time in my life- looking at life upside-down and trying to make financial decisions- HA! Not soo good. So I have come up with a few financial tips to help you on your way…
Somehow widows and widowers get on a LIST of someone to call and try to get money. It’s not like I was rich or anything and had to go by my gut on most decisions. Yes in a foggy mind, it’s not so awesome. I wish I would have had the professional people in my life back then that I do now. PLEASE GET PROFESSIONAL ADVICE. Most of them will do your first appointment for FREE > SO here are the people you could find to be on your side… Remember to follow your gut and if anything feels off, keep searching.
- TALK TO A FINANCIAL PLANNER- I had one financial advisor contact me and say some things that really turned me off. So I put all financial planners in the “No WAY” bucket. I should have kept looking. I didn’t realize that many of them do consultations for free and get paid differently than I thought. Also when someone asks you for money, you can say, “Contact my financial planner.” Ha! Or my financial advisor has told me not to loan out any money to anyone. You can also talk to your bank. Be open to new ideas, but find someone you trust who knows the industry well. Be sure to change the beneficiary on your accounts if your deceased spouse was the listed beneficiary on them, your will, etc. *This one can be done later, but be sure to add it to your list of things to do.
- TALK TO AN ACCOUNTANT/CPA- Jay had always done my taxes so I had no idea how to do any of that kind of stuff. Was I supposed to file married the year he died? I wasn’t married at the time I filed, but I was married for days of the year I was filing for. See, simple questions I had no idea the answer to! I did find an accountant to help me because this was WAY out of my field of expertise. It would have taken me weeks or months to figure out what he did in a few hours and it was well worth the $250 or whatever it was to have him do it all and CORRECTLY.
- FOLLOW professionals on social media or read books on finance. I love Dave Ramsey and he has great conservative advice. Mostly get out of debt. Then stay out of debt. I looked at advice from those who had money and kept money like Warren Buffet, Suze Orman, and Dave Ramsey’s daughter Rachel Cruze. You will find some that fit your style and give out free good advice.
- ATTORNEY- You may need help to do probate, read the will, etc. Contact an attorney to get a free consultation.
- Watch the money you have very closely. Many people will ask you for money or a loan, etc. It felt like I was a weirdo magnet on Facebook- so many friends requests from people I had never heard of and they had only a couple of friends and just started their accounts on Facebook. HUGE RED FLAG TO DELETE THE REQUEST! If you haven’t known people on Facebook before this time, seriously consider who you get to know on any social media platform where lies can easily be made.
Avoid making major financial decisions for the first year. Yes, you have heard it before and it really is good advice. The reason is you don’t want to make a decision that you will regret. I know some things can’t wait, though- if you are going to lose your house find a professional to help you make the best decision for YOU. If you have life insurance money sitting in the bank making .003% talk to your bank or a financial planner. I tried not to use family members as my professionals, but do what feels right for you.
Please know that there are professionals that you can trust. Read reviews, ask for referrals, but most of all go by your gut.