No matter how much time you’ve had to prepare, losing your partner due to death, incapacity or divorce can be devastating. Not only do such major life events take an emotional toll, they can uproot your day-to-day life in more practical ways—often from a financial perspective.
If your spouse handled the household finances, moving forward independently can be a challenge during those first few months. And while addressing financial matters may be the last thing on your mind, coming up with a clear plan can be critical to maintain your standard of living and ensure your family is protected.
Here are three steps you can take to help set yourself up for financial independence and security after losing a loved one:
- Hire an Investment Advisor
Whether you have a family wealth advisor or need to hire one, you should approach your initial meetings as if it’s a job interview—especially if you’ve traditionally taken a backseat when it comes to managing your family’s finances. Asking questions is the best way to build trust and determine whether your advisor has your best interests at heart.
No question is too basic as you become familiar with the wealth management process. Consider asking a range of questions, including:
- How often will we be in touch?
- Who will be my main point of contact?
- What are your fees? How are they calculated?
- Do you have services other than investment management?
- How do you determine what investments are in my portfolio?
- What does my overall wealth picture look like?
It’s essential that you’re completely comfortable with your advisor and their responses before moving forward with the relationship. A wealth advisor that that acts in your best interests can help relieve much of the anxiety that’s often associated with personal finances.
- Organize Your Daily Finances
Understanding your income and living expenses is a critical component of financial independence. Depending on how familiar you are with your financial circumstances, you can do this on your own or with the help of your financial advisor.
First, you’ll want to identify all potential sources of income, which may include investments, rents and royalties, trusts, retirement accounts, Social Security benefits and life insurance. Of course, if you’re employed, you’ll also factor your income into the equation. Then, make a list of your monthly fixed and discretionary expenses, including gifts for family members and charitable donations. This will serve as a helpful budget and keep you on track with your spending as you navigate daily life.
- Realize Your Wealth’s Purpose
While getting back on your feet after a loss is likely your priority, it’s important to remember that your family’s wealth has a greater purpose. You and your partner may have previously discussed your family’s long-term financial goals. Perhaps they included planning for your needs in retirement, passing your wealth on to future generations or leaving a legacy of charitable giving.
Once you feel secure in your financial independence, consider revisiting your long-term goals with your family and wealth advisor. Attaching a purpose to your wealth not only makes managing your family’s finances more fulfilling, it can help you preserve your wealth over the long run.
No one wants to think about loss, least of all the financial complexities that can come with it. Fortunately, with the proper preparation and resources, navigating the future can be less stressful, especially knowing that you don’t have to go it alone.