Losing a spouse is one of the most stressful and sad ordeals a person can go through, but often it’s not just the personal grief that brings widows and widowers to despair — it is the paperwork.

It is unfortunate that we are often inundated with paperwork and decisions during some of our most vulnerable times in life.  One of the most difficult, of course, is the loss of a spouse. Advisors often suggest that widows and widowers should avoid making any major personal or financial decisions for at least a year after the death of their spouse … but this is not often possible. As a Reuters writer pointed out, “A surviving spouse often is left with a mountain of medical bills, and is pressured to make immediate decisions about important items including retirement plan assets and insurance policy distributions.”

So, what can you do to help a friend or loved one in this situation? Here are some tips, both for you and your friend.

  • Take your time and get help. Meet with your attorney and financial advisors. Some decisions need to be made quickly, but not instantly. Take the time to get qualified counsel.
  • Bring a buddy to meetings. Have a friend in the room taking notes and asking questions. Memories can become hazy when clouded by grief.
  • Delay some decisions. It may make sense to delay some decisions, especially those related to qualified retirement accounts. A wrong, rushed answer could cost tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes and lost earnings.

One way you can help ease this difficult for your loved ones left behind is to organize your estate now. I invite you to visit our website, and maybe even have a Senior Life Care Planning consultation to help organize your thoughts and provide a loving last gesture for your family.

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