Kozak Financial Group
March 03, 2023Money Wellness Education Financial literacy Lifestyle
The unforeseen cost of losing your partner
Recently, we met with a client who had just lost their spouse. Obviously losing one’s spouse is an incredibly difficult event with impacts to a person’s lifestyle that are still felt years after their passing. One of the more common and often overlooked impacts of losing your partner is losing all the various knowledge and skills that you had entrusted to them over the years you were together.
If you lose your partner’s participation in everyday tasks like driving, managing the finances, doing your taxes, or simply keeping the houseplants alive, this can suddenly bring about a wave of anxiety that isn’t easily quelled. We often find that the first questions we get from a surviving spouse are about how they will learn to do all the things their late partner had taken care of for them over the years. The first piece of advice we always give is: don’t panic! You need to take care of you and your family first in the wake of losing your partner; processing your grief and recentering yourself will help in managing the anxiety that comes along with picking up all these new responsibilities.
The best way to avoid running into this is to prepare in advance. There were reasons that you and your spouse divided up the household duties in the first place, and this is usually because one person had greater interest in a given role or had more time or access to manage it. This commonly starts early in a relationship and just never changes. It is easy to fall into this trap, so our advice is to continuously include your spouse in the important decisions you are making on behalf of your household. This includes tasks like paying bills, managing your mortgage, investing your portfolio and the organization for taxes and nowadays all the online log in credentials that go with this. Our recommendation is, as much as possible, you both attend meetings with financial advisors, bankers, accountants etc. If nothing else, when both of you participate in these meetings, you have experience dealing with the experts you have hired. This inclusion of your partner in your family’s financial world, even if they aren’t doing the day-to-day tasks, will reduce the stress if they encounter an unexpected death or disability of their partner.
If you have already lost your spouse, it can be overwhelming to deal with the grief and attain the knowledge required to deal with financial affairs that usually have to be addressed fairly quickly. You should focus on managing the parts of your life that come easiest to you. If you find that you don’t have the time, energy, or knowhow to manage all the different jobs your spouse had been doing for you, it might be time to hire an expert to help you. An accountant can help you manage your year-end finances, a financial advisor can help you to make wise financial decisions, city transit or a taxi service can help you to get around and so on. Almost any skillset you feel you are lacking probably has an expert or service available to help you manage without the support of your spouse. It is important to remember that as your life has now changed, it should be expected that your routines will change as well. As such, you can allow yourself to manage all the sectors of your life a bit differently. Often the surviving spouse tries to manage their affairs in the same manner that their now deceased spouse did, this can cause more undue stress. If making a change or hiring an expert would make your lie easier, you should seriously consider making that adjustment.
No matter what, losing a life partner is difficult. You can make it a little easier on yourself by being proactive and sharing the household knowledge and duties. If you find you are still struggling to make the best decisions, there are experts available to help fill your knowledge gaps.