Experiencing the loss of a spouse is a major change for anyone to deal with, but for seniors who have shared their life with one person for years, losing a spouse often brings about unexpected consequences. Besides dealing with grief, there are also financial issues to confront.
Seniors who are going through this loss often feel overwhelmed by the decisions they need to make and how those decisions will impact their future. This is where adult children or other caregivers can make a big difference by helping your loved one make sense of it all, so they can move forward with a solid financial plan.
Read on for some more thoughts from International Rehabilitation Consultants.
Knowing When and How to Help
As a caregiver of someone in this position, one thing you may be concerned about is whether your senior loved one should continue managing their own finances. Next Avenue points out that it’s important to address this concern openly before making any decisions. If you both feel like it’s a good idea for you to help, you will want to have your loved one sign a durable power of attorney, which will give you legal authority to access and manage accounts.
In some cases, your loved one may be able to manage their own accounts with a little assistance. Tech-savvy seniors should look into online banking, or as Bankrate recommends, consider trying apps that help, such as SilverBills or Ready, Set, Bank.
If your loved one wants to set up a nonprofit in their spouse’s memory and honor, you can help walk them through the process. Visit Zenbusiness to learn about legal requirements you need to tend to set up a nonprofit.
Health and Safety Concerns
Besides helping with the mundane financial tasks, you can also help by looking over your loved one’s financial statements to make sure their health needs are being met. This is especially important if your loved one is living alone because health and safety could become a concern.
One specific area to discuss is healthcare coverage. You can start by asking what kind of Medicare plan they have or if they get insurance through retirement benefits, either their own or through their spouse. This is a crucial question, as the death of a spouse may change your loved one’s eligibility for employer retirement benefits.
If your loved one has Medicare, you may want to look into whether a Medicare Advantage plan would be right for their financial situation. These plans are sold through popular companies like Aetna, and many seniors like the expanded benefits they provide, such as dental and vision care and prescription drug coverage.
Taking the Next Steps
Once you’ve looked at your loved one’s overall financial outlook, the next major question is “Where do we go from here?” Depending on your loved one’s income and savings, they may not need to make major changes. However, some seniors who become widowed are dealt a financial blow as a result of losing their spouse’s income.
In this case, it’s a good idea to seek advice from a financial advisor so that you don’t rush into decisions that could prove detrimental in the long term. For example, there are some tax implications of becoming widowed, including the decision to make early withdrawals from retirement savings. Doing this may seem like a good option for replacing a spouse’s lost income, but your loved one may lose out by having to pay additional taxes and penalties.
Another major consideration is whether your loved one will continue living at home. This is a personal decision, and finances are only part of the equation. If your loved one decides to sell their home, this is another issue where you want to do your research and consult with an expert, such as an attorney, who can guide you in the legal aspects of selling as a widow or widower.