After Funeral Planning: The First Year
You’ve said goodbye to your loved one the best way you know how, tied the loose ends up from the funeral planning, and are getting ready to face the most difficult task ahead of you: the first year. Although everyone grieves in a different way, and there is no way to prepare for the emotional hardships that lay ahead of you, most people agree that the first few months are always the hardest.
And while no one can tell you how best to handle your grief, you can at least rely on the support of financial advisors to help you get your personal affairs into order. (This is most important when you’ve recently lost a spouse or life partner, although dealing with a parent’s finances might also be a factor for adult children.)
If you’re facing life on your own for the first time in a long time, here are a few financial issues that you will need to address.
- Notify the necessary organizations: In many cases, the deceased’s name and personal information will need to be removed from deeds, checking accounts, credit cards, and other financial accounts. This process can be time-consuming and draining, but is necessary to avoid trouble later on down the road. You’ll most likely need several copies of the death certificate to get this task done.
- Know what bills and premiums are paid monthly: If you lost a spouse who was the primary bill-payer in the family, it can be difficult to sort through exactly how he or she managed the monthly bills. Set up a system for organizing incoming and outgoing funds until you can close or take over these accounts. You may need to check email and automatic bill pay, as well as traditional mail.
- Look into health care: If your health care policy was provided by your spouse, you may need to make alternate arrangements now that he or she is gone. It’s a terrible thing to need health care only to find your insurance policy has lapsed, so make this one a top priority.
- Examine your own funeral plans: Now is a good time to check up on your own funeral pre-plans and insurance policies. Since you have a better grasp for what needs to be done in order to make the burial process easier, you can make changes that will benefit your whole family. Purchase an adjacent burial plot, take out a funeral insurance policy, or pre-arrange the entire funeral ahead of time.
- Update your will and other trust/retirement accounts: Chances are the deceased is listed as your beneficiary or otherwise figures in your advance plans. It is necessary to re-evaluate your financial needs and adjust accordingly. This might mean taking a more (or less) aggressive investment approach, or scaling back your living expenses to make up for the deficit.
- Talk to an accountant or other financial advisor: If your spouse passed away, there will be a change in the way you do your taxes and in how eligible you are to apply for (and receive) loans. Know what sort of changes you’re facing ahead of time, so you aren’t surprised when you go to try and buy a car or file your annual taxes.
It’s hardly fair that on top of funeral planning and grief, you also have several financial issues to sort out following the death of a loved one. By being proactive during the advance funeral planning stages and during the first year following your loss, you can avoid many of the biggest challenges that the death of a spouse can cause.