Advice4Life | May 2018 | What happens when one spouse who handles all the finances unexpectedly passes away?

May 21st, 2018 | | Advice4Life

What happens when one spouse who handles all the finances unexpectedly passes away? 

If you are going through this traumatic life change or know someone who is, please read on, AEGIS Financial Advisors can provide help…

Unfortunately the passing of a spouse who solely handles the finances usually adds a high level of stress to the grieving and emotional surviving spouse.  When the surviving spouse is mourning the loss of their loved one, they are often asked to make financial decisions which they have had little to no experience making in the past.  Often times the surviving spouse suffers a paralysis of decision making, and simply leaves the finances as-is, resulting in a complicated mess.

We recently had the privilege of helping one such widow who had unexpectedly lost her husband several years earlier.  Her spouse had left her with plenty of assets, but unfortunately she had not been involved in the finances, investments, or taxes in the least.  She ended up leaving most accounts where they were, including several which were never retitled to her as the beneficiary.  All of the assets from life insurance sat in a bank account making little to nothing as the stock market continued to perform over the last several years.

Tax time was a nightmare for her, as she got 1099s from a multitude of companies; confusion and stress lead to extensions being filed and excessive costs in preparing her tax return.   Beneficiary designations remained unchanged, leaving her at risk of not passing on her wealth according to her wishes, in the unfortunate event that she would have passed away.   This is NOT an uncommon situation for many surviving spouses.

When she came to us, we could see the stress that she was under, as we have unfortunately seen it many times before.  We immediately got to know her and her caring, giving, and selfless personality, and we got to know her top priorities and goals in life.  Then we began by getting all accounts retitled correctly to her as the beneficiary, and then updating all the beneficiaries to help ensure all children and grandchildren would be included according to her wishes.  After that we began consolidating the various investment accounts and the individual taxable accounts.  Finally, we established her cash flow needs, and helped invest the assets for her.

Previously she had statements coming in from eight different banks or investment companies; this year it will be reduced to three.  We believe tax time will be much easier for her in the future.

Does this sound like someone you know?  Is a loved one or a friend in a similar situation?  Please reassure them that they are not unique and they should not be embarrassed.  If they would like help, please feel free to share our information or reach out to us and we can make the initial contact.

Helping people through these situations is one of the most rewarding experiences of our partnership with our clients!


The above example is provided for illustrative purposes only. Every investor’s situation is unique and you should consider your investment goals, risk tolerance and time horizon before making any investment. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected.
You should consider all of your available options and the applicable fees and features of each option before moving your retirement assets.
Raymond James and its advisors do not offer tax or legal advice. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.

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