Basic Financial Tips for Widows

Dec 07, 2015 |

Written By Dan Uribe
4 Minute Read
4 Minute Read

Let’s discuss the unthinkable… you seem to have it all, a beautiful house, three healthy children, a financially stable life, and a loving devoted partner, but what happens when the unthinkable scenario of suddenly becoming a widow turns into a reality? Your world is turned upside down almost instantly. You are now a widowed mother of three with expenses that you just cannot afford on your own. According to the New York Times, “the household income for widows typically declines 37 percent after a spouse dies” (“New Widows Have Another Concern: Their Finances”, 2015). The sudden drop in household income is often a shock to these new widows. They often feel overwhelmed and unprepared for the future that lies ahead. Unfortunately, this is a common situation that countless women are thrown into every day. According to the New York Times, “One in four women from 65 to 74 are widows. When women reach 85, three out of four are widows” (“New Widows Have Another Concern: Their Finances”, 2015). While this is a difficult topic, it is important that it is discussed so you can feel prepared, confident, and ready to continue living your best life possible, even after your partner passes.

Below we have created a list of tips of what to do, in case you do unexpectedly become a widow:

  1. Complete the Essential Tasks

Although you should continue living your life as normally as possible, there are a few tasks that you will need to attend to right away. Below we have created a list of essential tasks that need to be taken care as soon as possible:

  • Death Certificate and Affidavit of Domicile:
    • According to the American Grandparents Association, “In order to alert your bank, life insurance, and other relevant companies for benefits or a change of registration, you’ll typically need these two documents – an affidavit of domicile being your late spouse’s proof of residence, needed for investment responsibilities and tax purposes. You can get a death certificate from the local coroner’s office” (“5 Financial Steps You Need to Take if You’re a Widow”, 2018). You will need to provide the death certificate for every institution you work with, so make sure to ask for several copies. Your lawyer will provide you with the affidavit of domicile form.
  • Life Insurance Benefits:
    • Once you have all the paperwork necessary, contact your husband’s life insurance company to file a claim. It can take up to six weeks to receive payment, so start this process as soon as you can.
  • Financial paperwork
    • To fully understand your financial situation, you will need to have all your paper work. This includes investment accounts, bank statements, retirement account information, pensions, etc. Do not worry about what you may or may not need, just locate all your financial paperwork and store them away in a box somewhere, so you will have everything ready when needed.
  1. Become Familiar with the ‘New Normal’

After the death of a spouse, you may feel as though your world has been turned upside down. You do not know how you can continue to live the same life without them being in it. Many widows find themselves wanting to make significant life changes right away such as selling the house, moving far away, etc.; however sudden decisions may not be ideal. Consider continuing the life you had prior to your husband’s departure. Run the household as normally as possible, get back into your daily routine, and continue to pay the bills. Avoid making hasty decisions for the first six to twelve months; instead, try to become familiar with the ‘new normal’. This time is important for you to adjust to your new life and determine your financial situation.

  1. Assemble a Team of Experts

Discussing your finances can be daunting, so make sure you connect with an advisor you trust. You want an advisor that you feel comfortable asking questions to and one that is specialized in working with women in situations similar to yours. This financial advisor should help you develop short term and long-term investment plans, as well as provide professional advice to help you navigate your savings, taxes, insurance, etc. If you do not already have a financial advisor in mind, Good Wealth Management has well trusted and experienced advisors that specialize in women and wealth. Contact us to determine if we would be a good fit for your situation.

  1. Take Care of Yourself

Lastly, but also most importantly, make sure to take care of yourself. Try to schedule time for self-care every week. This could include meditation, massages, spiritual practices, exercise, yoga, or even a simple bubble bath. If you would rather socialize than take time for yourself, consider joining a local group for widows. Regardless of what it is, big or small, it is important to remember to do things for yourself to help you through this difficult time.

If you have any questions or if you are looking for a financial advisor, give us a call at 888-299-9474.  We’d be happy to help.

Chan, Daisy. “5 Financial Steps You Need to Take If You’re a Widow.”, American Grandparents Association,
Olson, Elizabeth. “New Widows Have Another Concern: Their Finances.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 21 Dec. 2017,
“Financial Advice for Widows: 9 Steps to Help You Get Control and Move Forward.” Sixty and Me, 12 Jan. 2017,
“8 Financial Tips for New Widows.” Fidelity, 20 Sept. 2017,

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