Whether your spouse’s death was from a lengthy illness or it was unexpected, your life is now changed. The last thing you want to worry about after your spouse dies is money.

But it seems you’re being bombarded with demands to make financial decisions – decisions that can significantly change your lifestyle.

You want everyone to back off. But unfortunately, you’ll need to take care of a few pressing financial tasks even though you are grieving. These items will ensure you have access to money.

First, reach out to your tax advisor, financial advisor, and estate planning attorney. These professionals will help guide you through priorities.

They’ll provide insights from their expertise. Sometimes they will all have the same advice. Other times, they may differ in their perspective.

Use their insights to make your own decision on what to address now and what to postpone.

If your spouse was still working or if they owned a business, you’ll have many other items to address. This team of professionals can help you develop a plan of action.

One of the things you’ll need to address immediately is notifying all financial institutions, where you have an account, that your spouse died. This action will ensure you have access to money to pay bills.

Your financial advisor will be able to help you with this task. Be prepared with copies of the death certificate. Some financial institutions may require you to appear in person for account changes.

Next, you’ll need to list all expenses that are paid regularly. Your spouse may have set-up automatic payments, which would avoid late penalties.

Face it – while you’re grieving you don’t want your electricity to be shut off or your car to be repossessed.

Your financial advisor or the contact person at the financial institution where your checking account is held may be able to help you identify these expenses. Look for household and vehicle expenses, as well as premiums for health insurance.

Most other financial decisions can be postponed until you can think clearly. These decisions include selling assets, paying off liabilities, changing investments, etc.

Give yourself at least six months before making these major financial decisions. If anyone is pressuring you to take action immediately, ask them why the sense of urgency.

If someone will receive money because of your action, be cautious. Look out for those who will receive commissions from an immediate sale or even family members who will receive a larger inheritance if you downsize now.

Tell these individuals to back off so you can grieve your spouse’s death. Rely on your team of professional experts – the tax advisor, financial advisor, and estate planning attorney – to help you decide which decisions are a priority.

When your spouse dies, it’s okay to tell others to back off. Address the necessary financial tasks but postpone making major financial decisions until you can think clearly.


Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, RICP®, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing spending plans, comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”

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