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Helping A Senior Loved One Make Decisions After Losing A Spouse

When a loved one suffers a loss, it’s difficult to know exactly how to help. You may be worried about helping them make financial decisions, which can be tricky after the death of a partner or spouse. In some cases, a senior who loses a partner may want to consider selling their home, not only to make life a little easier but also to save money. Others will need to take stock of their financial security and decide whether or not they need a full or part-time job.

All of these decisions can be quite stressful, but fortunately, there are some things you can do to help the process along. The period immediately following the loss of a loved one can be an emotional roller coaster, and it’s hard to remember everything that needs to be done. By being there for your senior loved one during this difficult time, you can ensure that they don’t forget to take care of the most important things and that they don’t make any rash decisions while they’re grieving.

Keep reading to find out how you can help.

Paying for the funeral expenses

The most pressing matter following the death of a loved one is paying for funeral expenses. The average cost of a funeral ranges from $7,000 to $9,000, which includes viewing, burial, and other basic services. If the deceased had a life insurance policy, that would need to be taken care of immediately. Help your loved one gather all the necessary paperwork (including a death certificate) and get the wheels in motion for the policy to payout. Talk to the funeral director about the best way to pay for the expenses and find out exactly how the services will be arranged.

Sleep on it

There may be many big decisions that your loved one needs to make, but it’s important for them to take their time and not rush into anything. Help them take care of the most imperative financial issues now–such as paying the bills that are due at the moment–and leave the rest for a time when the grief isn’t so fresh. It can be difficult to make an informed decision while emotions are so high.

Consider selling

There are many reasons why a senior might decide to sell their home after losing a spouse; it might be too big for them to take care of by themselves, they may need the extra money freed up, or they might be concerned about living in a large home alone if they have mobility or health issues. Talk to your loved one about the benefits of selling once they’ve had time to process their grief and mention downsizing. Keep in mind that it will be imperative to find out the home’s value first, and talk to a realtor about the selling process so that your loved one knows what to expect. Moving is a lot of hard work, but it may be worth it to your loved one, especially if they have large medical bills to pay off.

Get all paperwork together

After losing their spouse, it will be important for your loved one to obtain several copies of the death certificate, for life insurance and joint account purposes. They should also gather all the insurance paperwork, bank account info, 401K documents, and the will or directive if those were prepared by the deceased. Keep these together in a safe place so that your loved one will have access to them when they need them.

Helping a loved one make tough decisions about their financial wellbeing isn’t easy, but being there for them during this difficult time will help ensure that they don’t make any hasty choices that could affect them negatively down the road. With a good plan, you can help your loved one get through the loss with dignity and reduce their stress levels.

About the Author

June is the co-creator of Rise Up for Caregivers, which offers support for family members and friends who have taken on the responsibility of caring for their loved ones. She is the author of the upcoming book, The Complete Guide to Caregiving: A Daily Companion for New Senior Caregivers.

Photo via Pixabay by Gaertringen

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