Whether you have been together for a short time or a long time, you will most likely go through a period of emotional and financial stress after losing a partner. Trying to take charge of all the responsibilities you have to handle alone, while at the same time making important decisions about your future, can seem overwhelming.
It is important to remember to take care of yourself as you walk the path of healing after such a difficult event. Too many times the remaining partner does not eat enough food or drink enough water to be properly nourished, and does not get enough rest. Try to postpone unnecessary changes and big decisions until you are thinking rationally and clearly. Wait a while – some experts counsel at least a year – before moving to a new house or making a major career (or other) change.
In most relationships, there is a certain amount of separation of duty that takes place: one partner does the cooking while the other does the gardening, one partner takes care of the car while the other partner pays the bills. At the death of a partner, the surviving partner often feels overwhelmed that there are too many tasks for one person to handle alone. Plus, there is much paperwork to be accomplished, what with survivor’s benefits, insurance issues, or other benefits that the survivor will need to make claim for.
To make the period after the death of a partner less stressful, there are some things that can be done in advance. Be sure that both names are on the safe deposit box, so you may each have access to important papers and documents. Keep a complete list of where your family’s legal and financial records are stored. Keep a summary record for listing the names and telephone numbers of your personal financial advisors as well as the location of relevant information and documents. Keep copies of your marriage certificate and your partner’s Social Security card.
Ask yourselves: what would your financial situation be in the event your spouse died. This is a critical question, because once you know the answer, you can take the appropriate steps to strengthen your financial position. Ask yourself these questions now: 1.) What would my income be if my spouse died? 2.) What would my spouse’s income be if I died? 3.) Is my income affected by the death of someone other than a spouse?
Attending to these questions and making wise adjustments could save you from a financial crisis and ease your transition after the death of your partner.
Jeffery J. McKenna is a local attorney serving clients in Nevada, Arizona and Utah. He is a shareholder at the law firm of Barney McKenna & Olmstead, PC, with offices in Mesquite and St. George. If you have questions you would like addressed in these articles, you can contact him at (435) 628-1711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.