Facing Life Without Him

The emotional tragedy of widowhood can be compounded by poor financial decisions

money. “Single women retirees over age 65 receive only $106 per month in interest income from their assets on average,” says Williams.

You’ll need a lot more than that. Evaluate retirement holdings and realize that some investments appropriate for dual-income households might be too risky for mature singles. Don’t feel wedded to past investment choices made by your deceased husband. “Just because he owned a certain stock for 20 years doesn’t mean you have to keep it,” advises Katz.

You may feel a little sheepish as a solo investor, but remember that being too conservative can cost you in returns. Find an appropriate mix of investments that will meet your needs for growth and security. It may pay to get professional help as well.

BACK TO BUSINESS
Littlepage is lucky. Lack of money isn’t her biggest concern. But she cannot afford to ignore her business. “She’s more dependent on that business now and must not let anything fall through the cracks,” says Elaine Bedel a certified financial planner in Indianapolis.

Littlepage will also need to plan now for the day when she may want to sell the business and retire. It won’t hurt to start exploring a variety of options. And even though she is in relatively good financial shape, she shouldn’t get too comfortable. “She could live to be 90,” says Bedel. “What seems like a lot of resources today may not last. Spending, saving, and investing should be done with that reality in mind.”

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
1. Make sure both you and your spouse are insured, whether through your employer or additional insurance. You may want to investigate short- and long-term disability to cover you in case you need to take an unexpected leave of absence.

2. Draft a will and designate people that you trust to be responsible for carrying out your wishes, especially if you have children together. Also, apply for your spouse’s Social Security benefits for yourself and your children.

3. Don’t make any major financial decisions until at least six months to one year after your husband’s death. This way, your decisions will be based on thoughtful plans, not emotion. Also, if you have the wherewithal to make financial decisions immediately after your husband’s death, ask that donations be sent to a college education fund for your children in lieu of flowers.

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