In the days, weeks, and months following your husband's death, you will undoubtedly face an array of decisions that you must make. Some decisions need to be made right away, but many can wait. Because you are in the midst of such a traumatic event, your decision making capabilities will be diminished. So, my advice to you is to slow down and delay any major, impactful, long-lasting, or irrevocable decisions as long as possible. Instead, use this time to grieve, take care of yourself, and (when you're ready) to start getting organized.
Directly following your husband's passing you must make funeral arrangements, notify friends, family, employers, etc. about your husband's death. I believe it's also very important to tell your team of advisors, such as your financial planner, lawyer, and accountant. Assuming you have this team in place, they will be able to help guide you regarding which decisions can wait and which ones cannot. If you do not have a team in place, this might be a good time to start asking friends and family for recommendations.
When you’re ready, the next step is so important and will make the settling of your husband’s estate and your future financial decisions easier: getting organized. You’ll want to locate and identify all of your husband’s estate planning documents such as wills, trust documents, letters of instruction, etc. You will also want to get a handle on where all of your financial accounts and insurance policies are and that of your husband's. Consider accounts like IRAs, 401ks, brokerage accounts, bank accounts.
Decisions like how your investments are allocated, what to do with insurance benefits, whether or not to sell your house, and others can wait unless there is an extraordinary need to make a decision now. But in my experience, there rarely is. These major decisions should be held off for at least a year following your husband’s passing.
So, go slow. Hold off on the big decisions until you are in a better place to make them. And when you’re ready, look for good co-thinkers both within your financial team and outside of it to discuss important decisions with.
Breakwater Financial, LLC is a registered investment advisor. The content of this blog post is for informational and educational purposes only and is not to be considered investment advice. If you have any questions regarding this Blog Post, please contact us.