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How to Handle Your Finances After the Loss of a Loved One

Personal Finance
mother hugs her two young children outside and thinks about finances after the loss of a loved one

From the moment you say your vows, you pledge to your spouse that you will be there through thick and thin — until death do you part. For some, this loss comes far too soon. The loss of a loved one could bring a whirlwind of grief for you and your family, which often takes an incredible amount of time and energy to move through.

Unfortunately, you must also consider your finances during this difficult time. Learning more about the expenses that may follow the loss of your spouse — and ways you could prepare for the uncertainties of life — could help you move forward with courage and confidence.

Life After Loss

From carrying out your partner's final wishes to caring for your children, there are many things to consider after a loss of a loved one. Examining your current and future expenses could help you understand your needs — and better prepare for tomorrow.

You may need to manage the following expenses after the loss of a loved one:

  • Final expenses: Funeral and burial costs will vary, depending on your partner's final wishes. You may also need to consider taxes and legal fees that may be associated with settling your loved one's estate.
  • Child care costs: Child care may be an important consideration after the loss of a spouse, especially if your partner was the primary caregiver. Depending on the age of your children, they may need a nanny, full-time day care or an after-school babysitter.
  • Mortgage or rent payment: Staying in the family home could make life easier after the loss of a loved one because of the comfort it may provide you and your family. Timely mortgage or rent payments are essential, especially after a loss.
  • Income replacement: If your spouse worked, you will no longer be able to rely on the income they contributed every month. Replacing lost income could be a priority for you during this time.
  • Education expenses: Education expenses could be a current need if your children attend a private elementary or secondary school. However, there's also the future to consider. Saving for your children's college education may be an important financial goal.
  • Debt repayment: You may also have car loans, student loans or credit card debts to consider. Examining the terms and conditions of your debts could help you better understand your repayment responsibilities.

Prepare for the Uncertainties of Life

Grief can last a long time, but your finances should not add to that burden. You could take steps now to prevent your family from struggling financially should this worst-case scenario occur. A strong financial footing could help you focus on caring for your family — and yourself — after the loss of a spouse.

Here are some ways you could prepare for the unknown:

  • Life insurance: Life insurance for you and your spouse could be a good way to help ensure financial security should one of you unexpectedly pass. The death benefit could be used for both current and future financial needs — and could help protect a working or non-working spouse.
  • Emergency fund: An emergency fund could make a big difference after the loss of a loved one. This financial cushion could help you pay for both expected and unexpected expenses.
  • Retirement savings: The loss of a spouse could lessen the impact of your future retirement needs. Continuing the contribution of income toward your retirement savings could help you establish a secure financial future.
  • Education funds: An education fund, such as a 529 college savings account, could help you put money aside for your children's future college expenses. Knowing that their education is covered could help give you a sense of relief.

Expenses are a part of life, but it is also important to consider your personal needs. The loss of a loved one is a tragedy, but taking time to care for yourself could help you navigate the storm.

Picking up the pieces after the loss of a loved one is never easy. However, preparing for the uncertainties of life could help protect your financial future.

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Information provided is general and educational in nature. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal or tax advice. Western & Southern Financial Group and its member companies (“the Company”) does not provide legal or tax advice. Laws of a specific state or laws relevant to a particular situation may affect the applicability, accuracy, or completeness of this information. Federal and state laws and regulations are complex and are subject to change. The Company makes no warranties with regard to the information or results obtained by its use. The Company disclaims any liability arising out of your use of, or reliance on, the information. Consult an attorney or tax advisor regarding your specific legal or tax situation.