7 Steps for Widows and Widowers to Manage Their First Year Alone

Nothing can prepare for the heartbreaking and debilitating loss of the love of your life or your spouse. The first step of any widow or widower’s journey is taking the pieces back and finding the courage to carry on even when you realize that your “other half” has passed.

I experienced firsthand the type of grief that can overwhelm you when I became widowed following the loss of my husband when I was only 28 years old.

Alongside managing your sorrow, you’ll be required to take care of certain issues promptly.

The experience of my life has made me realize that the world is never predictable and has reinforced the importance of making plans for the future, and has motivated me to assist others in planning and managing the loss.

The first year being a widower or widowed is about remembering loved ones The next year is about remembering your life to the fullest.

Based on my personal experience and dealing with hundreds of customers in the estate-planning law firm I run I’ve observed that there are typically seven steps to help you navigate the first year as widowed or widowed. They are laid out below. When you follow these steps, you’ll likely feel more at ease with your situation.

Step 1: Take Care of Immediate Things

At the beginning of this adventure, the pain you feel can be overwhelming, and even taking the smallest step could be difficult. The trick is to take small steps in the right direction regardless of how it seems impossible.

In addition to coping with your grief, you’ll be required to take care of certain issues quickly. Notifying family members, friends, loved ones, and family advisors is likely to be among the first tasks you have to complete. The decisions about funeral arrangements and organ donation are the most difficult.

If you’ve talked about your “what if” scenario with your spouse or person who had laid out their wishes for funeral or memorial arrangements, you might already have a plan to follow. If not, you’ll have put your faith in yourself to do the right decision. Try your best.

Conserving energy is crucial, as the emotions that come up early are exhausting. Notifying friends and family about the loss of your loved one may be something you decide to give to a trusted family member. This could reduce the stress of the flurry of emotionally draining inquiries from friends and family members who are well-meaning.

Step 2: Find and Organize Key Documents

The tough reality after losing a loved one is that you might have sole responsibility for your budget. In most families that is the case, one person will handle the finances and bills, so if finances were handled by the person who died, it can be a very stressful time, with lots of concerns about how you should pay and how you can gain access to your accounts.

While you grieve and grieve, you must look for and arrange important documents like a will, trust, and life insurance policies into piles or folders. If you’ve used an attorney for your family to help make an estate plan, contact him or her. A lot of attorneys keep the initial estate plans in vaults and contain useful information that can help clients.

When you’re assembling the legal documents, don’t note any of them, and do not take out any staples. Inadvertently, these actions could cause issues regarding authenticity or authenticity.

Step 3: Take Inventory

After you have gathered and arranged the documents for the estate Next step is to make a comprehensive list of all the assets. With a checklist, you can pull together all financial records relating to debts and assets that your life partner and you have.

Take bank statements as well as real estate deeds retirement accounts, investment accounts statements like IRAs and 401(k)s Pension information, Social Security information, and life insurance policies (check with your deceased partner’s employer to find out the existence of any benefits for the group) Annuity agreements, mortgage statements, credit card statements, and any other information related to items worth a lot of money.

Sort the information and statements in chronological order based on the types of accounts and institutions. Start with tax returns. This is usually helpful, as they usually detail earnings, revealing the financial institutions and banks where dividends and interest are generated.

I would suggest that you look through many years of tax returns to make sure that you have all the information you need. If both you and your spouse employed an accountant to prepare your tax returns, he/she might also have documents and financial statements in your file.

As a lot of people have switched to paperless delivery of their statements It is a good idea to verify your spouse’s or partner’s email accounts to determine the status of any notices being sent via email. If you discover accounts that have online statements, then print the latest statements and then put them in your files.

Step 4: Pull the Pieces Together

The next step is to be aware of the steps to take when you begin the legal administration of the estate of your partner.

Each state has its own specific rules to follow when there is well and when there aren’t. Every state has probate laws that outline the procedure for what needs to be done, when, and who can administer the estate.

Probate is a legal procedure to prove the validity of a will as well as the execution of its terms. It is a procedure that, once the court has been able to confirm the will’s validity, it may appoint the executor or personal representative identified in the will.

They will manage, collect and distribute estate assets. The probate court will make sure that the person appointed as personal representative is legally constituted and is making distributions by the provisions of the will.


If there’s no will and your spouse’s state of residence’s intestacy laws will determine who can be the personal representative responsible for the legal and financial issues of the estate. These laws also specify who can inherit a person’s property (and in which order) in the absence of a will.

Certain assets, including retirement accounts, annuities, and insurance policies, generally go out of probate when beneficiaries are listed on accounts. To assert rights over these types of assets call the institution and ask it to provide you with beneficiaries’ claims forms.

Joint accounts usually avoid probate as the joint ownership comes with the survivorship clause.

Taxes must also be considered in the process of settling an estate. In addition to income tax and federal taxes, there could be state and federal estate taxes. Some states don’t have estate taxes, and it’s crucial to inquire with your lawyer or consult research to determine.

In general, if you are a surviving spouse is not likely. If, however, you weren’t married or were in an unmarried family in which there were children born of previous marriages The estate tax is something you should discuss with your tax advisors.

Create a brand new budget for your household and consider your financial goals and retirement goals.

Taxes on estates are calculated on the worth of an individual’s assets as of the time of death, therefore knowing the exact value is essential. In the current legislation, assets that pass through the estate receive a “step-up” on a basis.

The step-up rules alter the tax base of the assets to market value upon death, which decreases the tax on the income-tax deductible gain from any sale such as the family home or stocks. (As Next Avenue has written there’s some discussion about Washington, D.C., regarding altering the laws on estate tax and those rules governing step-ups.)

To make sure you’re properly doing this, talk to an experienced tax professional who specializes in tax-related issues about estates.

Step 5: Build a Team of Trusted Advisers

After you’ve organized the necessary paperwork but you’re not sure what to do next. It’s a good idea to create a trusted team of experts in the fields of legal and financial to help you settle the estate of your partner.

Your team must address each step in finalizing probate and administering the estate of your partner.

It is important to research counselors and lawyers to pick the most qualified experts who could save you from additional hassles in the future.

Step 6: Plan for Your Immediate Future

This is about understanding the assets you have as an individual, the amount of income you have as a widower or widower, and also how you can look after your loved ones during the new phase of your life.

Make a new budget for your family and then think about your own financial goals and retirement goals. Also, be sure to share your information about income and expenses with your financial advisor.

Step 7: Plan Things for Your Loved Ones

This is the right moment to ensure that your succession plan has been put in place to ensure peace of mind knowing that your loved ones be aware of your desires.

Get started by updating or writing essential documents that be in effect if you’re not able to make financial or health choices for yourself. These documents include Your healthcare proxy (also called an advance health directive to care) along with the financial durable powers of attorney.

It is important to name those whom you trust and who can handle the responsibility. (Next Avenue has free materials to help you accomplish this.)

The power of attorney you sign should specify when the authority of your agent would begin and what it is that your agent’s authority would be to handle on your behalf.

These documents are specific to the state of California So, you should discuss them with your lawyer.

In the next step by creating either a will or a revocable trust or amend the trust you already have to express your desires. In this document, you’ll specify the person you wish to have control over your estate if you die and who should receive the estate.

It’s also a good idea to make what’s commonly referred to as a “Tangible Personal Property Memorandum” when you’ve got a lot of personal possessions that you’ll want to give to certain people.

Making sure that you update the beneficiaries of your annuity, retirement, and insurance policies is crucial as well.

After you have all the paperwork in place to deal with the issues of disability, incapacitation, or death, make sure you communicate your wishes to those you love and inform them if they will be a part of your plan. Inform them of where you have your documents and your preferences regarding medical decisions, and who to contact should something happen to you.


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