a young widow's perspective on financial planning

This information is by Sandi Duffy, a widowed mom with young children. We’re impressed by the sound advice Sandi offers in Financial Planning for Widowed Moms.

According to Sandi,"Once the funeral is over, you are left to pick up the pieces of your life and your children's lives. How are you going to do this? Where do you even start?

It's a cold hard fact that you need money to live, pay the bills, feed your children, etc. The first and most important thing you can do for yourself and your children is to gather all your late husband's assets, bank accounts, retirement funds, life insurance, etc. and get yourself to a certified financial planner. I cannot emphasize enough the word Certified Financial Planner. Not a friend of a friend of a friend who claims to be good with money. I had a colleague at work tell me she is really good with finances and would do mine. Really? Would she be able to tell me how to invest my money, so that I can draw an income from it every month? Would she be able to project how much college will cost in 18 years and then advise me how to invest, so that I can fund my children's educations?

Go to a real certified financial planner, someone who is highly recommended by more than one person. If you are unsure, interview a few of them. I spoke to three before I chose the one I am currently using.

The next most important thing is to find a good lawyer who specializes in wills and trusts. Again, find one who specializes in wills and trusts. My husband and I used a real estate attorney to do our wills, living wills, and durable power of attorney (POA). Thankfully we didn't have to use the POA because when I went to a lawyer who specializes in this, he told me it was all wrong and never would have been honored.

This is critical if you have young children. I have a trust set up that in the event of my death, the children receive one quarter of my estate at 25, one quarter at 30 and the remaining balance at 35. It names who will become their guardians and who will control the money they inherit.

Also, the amount of paperwork dealing with your spouse's estate that has to be filed with the IRS is daunting. Let an attorney handle it all.

I know it seems cold, but you really need to take care of the financial part of your spouse's death. It's also a good distraction. I recommend two books that specifically deal with financial issues for women: David Bach's Smart Women Finish Rich and Suze Orman's Women and Money."

Sandi goes on to say," 'They' say not to make any big decisions for a year. That's probably a good idea. If financially you can keep your house, keep it. I couldn't even think about packing up my house, showing it to strangers, uprooting my kids, finding new childcare...the list is endless.

If you don't need to make more money, don't switch jobs. I remember calling my former boss for a letter of reference, thinking I needed to make more money for our family. She grudgingly wrote the letter, not because she had negative feelings towards me, but she didn't think it was a good idea for me to make a change so soon. I remember her telling me she would write it, but hoped I would be calling her in a few years to update it because I didn't use the first one. She was right. I kept my job.

Changing jobs, moving, and losing a spouse (through divorce or death) are the three biggest stressors. Try to deal with just one at a time."

Sandi Duffy was widowed in October 2007 when her 44-year-old husband succumbed to Pancreatic Cancer.


schartman5466@msn.com said...

I have patiently, persistently, and politely dealt with errors made by insurance companies and billing from doctors and facilities. I have patiently, persistently, and politely asked the IRS for help in resolving 2 major issues that came from the year my husband died. I have made mistakes that I would have had no way to even ask questions that would have prevented the problems that arose. I have so many balls to juggle that I just can't keep them all going all the time. With the school and activities schedule of 2 high school students plus the 70 hours or more that I often put in at my job plus managing all of the regular financial issues in addition to the IRS, insurance, retirement, and college issues i feel so overwhelmed all of the time. Facing cancer with my husband was hard, but we faced it together every day with love and courage. Facing widowhood is something I face alone. Facing the challenges of parenting teenagers is also a heavy burden when you carry it alone. And then the financial fears of providing for daily needs as well as trying to save a little for weddings, college educations, and maybe someday down the road our first vacation without my husband.
For widows, the alone factor is also complicated by the "fear factor" of wondering how we will survive for the next 20 to 30 years without our mates.

Laurie and Ruth said...

Thank you for so eloquently describing the difficulties and challenges you're struggling with. At this point in time,the future must seem overwhelming.

Try to focus on one problem at a time.It also helps to reach out to others(temporarily) for assistance and support.

Please let us know how you're doing.