Recovering Financially After the Death of a Spouse

Losing a spouse is a devastating experience, which requires a lot of support. Though death is a part of life—something that is even mentioned in your wedding vows—it still somehow feels unexpected and unfathomable. The fact of the matter is that, most often, there will be one surviving member of a marriage who must deal with the financial and emotional aftermath of losing their spouse. 

As we advise clients who seek life insurance policies, now is the time to prepare for the financial implications of death on your loved ones; now, when decisions can be made without the dark cloud of emotion, and while you and your spouse can talk through important decisions that affect the future of your family. However, if you find yourself without this luxury, Southwestern Investment Group is here to help.

Consider these six steps you can take now to help you recover financially after losing your spouse.

Preparation During Life

As we’ve mentioned, ideally, you and your spouse will have multiple conversations about your financial future in the event of death, before you actually must deal with this reality. Seeking counsel from a professional, such as a financial advisor, should be a priority. Organizing a will and trust is also vital, especially if you have children to consider. 

These conversations can feel daunting and altogether morbid, but please consider that the alternative can mean a lot of financial strife and emotional anguish for your family. The process can also be concise and efficient when working with a trusted professional.

Breathe and Analyze First Steps

First, and most importantly, take a moment to process your current situation before jumping right in to making complex and far-reaching decisions. Dealing with the death of a spouse is potentially one of the most emotional experiences in life; and the last thing you need right now is to make brash decisions in the short-term. The finances will still be there to settle after a quick moment to take a breath and gather a support system.

Gather and Organize Records

In order to get started, you will need to gather and organize several important documents, which could include a certain level of detective work. Some records that are important to have on hand include the following:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Life insurance policy
  • Birth certificate
  • Death certificate
  • HR benefits/employer information

After you gather these documents, we recommend keeping originals and copies on hand, as you will be regularly referencing them in the coming weeks and months.

Seek Professional Assistance

Aside from leaning on family and friends during this time, it is also vital that you seek the assistance of someone who is qualified to help guide you through the minutiae of this significant life event, including the financial implications. 

You may wish to hire a financial planner, along with your attorney, to simplify the process of settling your spouse’s estate and taking the next steps in planning the financial stability of your family.

Settling the Estate, the Probate Process

The above-mentioned professional assistance you hire will be instrumental in helping to settle the estate of your spouse. First, you will need to ensure that you’ve located the original will and trust; these documents will serve as the blueprint for nearly all the financial decisions you make in the coming months. 

Probate is the process in which your spouse’s estate is distributed and their debt reconciled. If you have been named the beneficiary, then you will have the responsibility of evaluating and settling all secured and unsecured debt. It may seem overwhelming, but professional assistance and a clear plan can make this process manageable.

Your Estate Planning

Finally, you should secure your own estate planning, taking into account your new financial situation. This is vital as the surviving head of the household, especially if you have a child who will be named as beneficiary. Consider the elements of settling your spouse’s estate that didn’t go as smoothly as it could’ve, and then implement these changes to your own estate planning.

Southwestern Investment Group provides financial advising services with knowledge and integrity. Contact us today to learn more about estate planning and how it can benefit your family.

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Jeffrey T. Dobyns


President, SageSpring | Financial Advisor, RJFS 

Jeffrey T. Dobyns

President, SageSpring | Financial Advisor, RJFS

Beyond crunching numbers and investment strategies, at SageSpring, we’re about building relationships. When you encounter Founder & President of SageSpring, Jeff Dobyns, it’s easy to understand why this is at the very heart of who we are as a firm. You won’t find stuffy formalities with Jeff; instead, you can expect to find him sharing a warm smile, communicating a compelling vision, or patiently untangling life’s complex challenges with clients. He believes in truly getting to know clients, understanding their aspirations and priorities, and navigating their financial plans with a tailored, comprehensive approach. Our team members have often been caught taking notes on Jeff’s effortless relationship skills from a distance, and we admire them for striving to learn from one of the best. 

Jeff’s financial expertise and wisdom are the perfect match to his innate people skills. Jeff holds the prestigious CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM certification, Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®), and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChLU®) designations, and has held executive positions with financial planning firms for more than two decades. 

His dedication extends beyond the office to the boardroom and the local community, where Jeff is passionate about giving back. He serves as Chairman of the Board of Men of Valor, a prison ministry and mentoring program. Jeff also serves on the board of Send Musicians to Prison, which shares hope, healing and restoration with the imprisoned through musicians & artists. Jeff actively supports other initiatives in the community by sitting on the board of The Signatry of Middle Tennessee and the Halftime Institute of Nashville. 

Witnessing his four children, Gracyn, Hunter, Tanner, and Logan, excel on the field is almost just as rewarding, if not more, than celebrating the victories of seeing his clients overcome obstacles and build wealth. Spending weekends boating on the lake, hiking mountain trails, and fishing with his family are the moments Jeff cherishes most. It’s this grounded perspective that reveals the true meaning of wealth for Jeff: not just numbers on a page, but the freedom to create experiences that enrich your life and the lives of those you love. When you choose the Dobyns McMillin Wealth Team, you choose more than financial expertise. You choose a partner who champions your dreams, celebrates your victories, and walks besides you on the path to achieving your unique goals.

**Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TM, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.