Rebuilding Life After Death


by Mark Colgan, CFP

When you’re in the midst of grief and overwhelmed by all the tasks you have to tackle after a loved one passes away, it can feel lonely and, sometimes, scary. As discouraging as it may feel at the time, there can be a good life after death.

It can be scary and confusing when you transition from being a couple that makes many of the financial decisions together to a single decision-maker. It’s important that you work with a financial planner who can help you navigate a new financial plan designed just for you.

There are a few attributes that an advisor should possess. They should be knowledgeable, experienced, and have a solid reputation. Avoid a “one-man band,” and hire a planner who collaborates well with others. Taking a team approach when organizing your financial plan is ideal so that your attorney, financial advisor, and accountant can work together. Additionally, the rules and regulations are constantly changing, so it’s best to work with a Certified Financial Planner™ professional.

Creating a new financial plan is empowering. First and foremost, it is exciting to establish new goals for your future. Second, you will better grasp how much you should save and what you can spend your money on. I call this “knowing your financial capacity.” This is a game-changer because it reassures you that it is okay to begin spending your time and money on what you love.

Don’t confuse importance with urgency. There is rarely a need to rush into any financial decisions immediately. You can take your time and let the emotions get sorted out first. Being methodical about your financial decisions and discussing them with your financial planner first can also help you avoid missteps. For instance, I often advise clients to avoid paying off their partner’s credit card debt immediately – especially with their money. The estate may be able to take care of the debts for you.

Some things, however, are urgent. After a loved one passes away, a few essential items must be taken care of as soon as possible. First, collect any survivor benefits that are owed to you. Your financial advisor, attorney, and accountant should be able to figure this out for you. Then, begin to organize your finances and learn what you need to live on your own based on your financial obligations and income sources. Establish your budget. Last, rewrite your will, healthcare directive, and power of attorney to stay up to date.

When you have a sound financial plan, your future becomes more apparent, and you will feel more in control. Knowing how much money you have and need makes it easier to move forward without stressing about being suddenly financially independent. This financial confidence will hopefully inspire you to spend more of your time and money doing the things that bring you joy.

I’ve been in your shoes, and although it was the most challenging event in my life, I was slowly able to begin moving forward. I’m now married to my wife, Kathy, and we have two children, two dogs, and a cat. Although it sounds cliché, we truly have a wonderful life. With hard work, good advisors and a good financial plan, you too can enjoy a good life after your loved one’s death. I have so much to be grateful for.

If you would like professional financial help rebuilding life after death, reach out to schedule a consultation.

Deaths Red Tape is a newly released technical guide by Mark Colgan on the logistics people contend with after they lose a loved one. Order your copy today!

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