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Ashford Insurance

How to Help Seniors Navigate Financial Decisions After the Loss of a Spouse

Sarah Fuhrmann

Sarah Fuhrmann

Sarah Fuhrmann is an agent of Ashford Insurance an independent health insurance agency specializing in Texas Medicare insurance.

Loss of Spouse

Another fantastic guest post from Hazel Bridges:

How to Help Seniors Navigate Financial Decisions After the Loss of a Spouse

When a senior loved one loses their spouse, it can mark the beginning of a very difficult time. Unfortunately, there are financial decisions your loved one can’t put aside until they have come to terms with their loss. That’s why they’ll need your help to ensure everything is still covered.

Ashford Insurance offers the following guidance so you can be the rock your loved one needs during such a challenging time.

Help Them Contact Everyone

Apart from letting close relatives know that a loved one has passed away, you’ll also need to contact the deceased’s employers. It’s important to let government agencies and other institutions know about a loved one’s death as soon as possible in order to decrease the risk of identity theft. In the interest of time, you can make contact by telephone at first but be sure to submit a written document as soon as possible. Some of the places that will need to be contacted include banks, credit card companies, and mortgage lenders. You’ll also need to contact credit report agencies as well as any clubs the deceased was a member. When it comes to the Social Security Administration, timing is essential as any benefits that are paid out after the loved one’s passing will need to be returned.

Help Them with Funeral Planning

When you’re helping your senior loved one plan the funeral, you’ll need to keep their finances in mind. While they may be tempted to ignore costs during their time of mourning, you can keep them on budget by doing some research. According to Ashford Insurance Group, an average funeral can run from $5,000 to $10,000. Cremation can cost $6,000 on average while a burial can go a little more at $7,360. Bear in mind that the burial cost wouldn’t include a headstone or plot. If you have a strict budget, then it could be helpful to shop around. Also, don’t be afraid to negotiate with the service providers.

Help Them Make Their Claims

If your loved one’s spouse had a pension plan or would be eligible for benefits from certain government agencies, you can play a part in ensuring all the claims are filed. Your loved one may be able to access funds from not just a pension, but also lost wages or a burial allowance. For persons who had private life insurance policies, Policy Genius suggests gathering important documents like the death certificate and the policy before contacting the insurance company. You can also help your loved one decide if they’d like a lump sum payment or an annuity. Don’t forget to help them understand how their taxes may change.

Help Them with Downsizing

Having lost their spouse, your loved one may have to deal with a decrease in income while their expenses have not changed. In this case, downsizing could be the answer. When they move into a more appropriately sized home, they could save money on the cost of utilities as well as their mortgage payment. This can help them to plan a more realistic monthly budget. If you’re helping your loved one to find their next home, you should definitely look at all your options. This can include looking in their current neighborhood or finding a new one.

Adding Income

If lost income will make a significant dent in their lifestyle, finding work may be necessary. Many seniors return to work in retirement, and there are plenty of job options available for older adults. In some cases, seniors are even starting their own small businesses from home, and this is another great option for generating income, as well as finding something to keep them occupied. It’s fairly easy to start a home-based business, and these days one can even form an LLC through an online service like ZenBusiness.

While there’s no doubt that your senior loved one will be in for a hard time following the death of their spouse, your assistance can be invaluable. You can help them manage their finances and make prudent decisions.

Hazel Bridges
[email protected]
AgingWellness.org

Photo via Pixabay

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Sarah Fuhrmann

Sarah Fuhrmann

Sarah Fuhrmann has been helping Medicare eligibles in Texas with their Medicare Insurance since 2018.