Help a Senior Loved One Make Financial Decisions
Help a Senior Loved One Make Financial Decisions While They’re Grieving
Helping a loved one who has just lost their spouse can be an emotional, frustrating process, but the good news is there are several ways to be of help without feeling like you’re intruding. Often, an individual who is dealing with the aftermath of death faces significant challenges involving their finances or living situation and handling those issues while also grieving can be overwhelming. You can help by looking for solutions and narrowing down options according to their needs, as well as providing emotional support as they make decisions.
Here are a few tips on how to support your loved one.
Gather important paperwork
There are several documents that need to be kept together immediately following the death of a spouse, including life insurance paperwork, personal banking info, and documents or invoices from the funeral home. Help your loved one stay organized by ensuring that all of these are kept together, as it will prevent problems down the road and ease your loved one’s stress a bit. Make sure the funeral director has ordered several copies of the death certificate so there will be no issues with receiving an insurance payout, changing over financial accounts into one name, or retitling the mortgage.
Make tough decisions a little easier
Many seniors must make tough decisions about their living situation after the death of a spouse, either because they can’t afford to stay in their home or because they need to free up some money for their immediate needs. Selling a home while going through the grieving process is pretty difficult to navigate alone, so you can help by getting the process started. Calculating the home’s value (Towson homes have a median sale price of $375,000) and figuring out how much a sale will net is important, so look for online resources that will make this part as easy as possible.
Then, talk to your loved one about possible repairs that may be necessary to make before the house goes on the market. Depending on where they live, there may be grants or aid available to help fund those projects.
Support a downsize
No matter the reason for selling their home, your senior loved one will undoubtedly benefit from downsizing to a smaller house. Not only does it require less maintenance, it also provides a safer, more mobile-friendly space for older adults and saves them money each month. Because the homebuying process can be lengthy, they may benefit from moving into an apartment temporarily. This gets them out of their old home so they can focus on healing. You can use an online search tool to locate nearby apartments they may be interested in.
This process can be quite emotional, however, as it means the homeowner will have to go through their belongings and decide which ones they want to take to the new place. If there’s no issue with time, allow your senior loved one to go through the rooms at their own pace while you’re there for emotional support. Don’t push them to get rid of any items; if they’re unsure of what to do with some things, these can go into temporary storage.
While they’re working on sorting items, you can help by cleaning, returning things to their proper place, and taking care of tasks like grocery shopping, doing laundry, preparing meals, and running errands. These might seem like small acts, but they can make a huge difference to someone who has a lot on their plate. It can also be helpful to manage visitors and well-wishers; while your loved one may appreciate their thoughts and prayers, it can easily become overwhelming to play host in the middle of making major life changes.
Provide some helpful tools
Dealing with selling a home, downsizing, and making major decisions immediately after the death of a spouse can be a challenge because it’s hard to focus on those details in the midst of grief. Provide your loved one with a notebook so they can write down important phone numbers and information, especially as they make phone calls to insurance companies and family members or as they make arrangements. You can also help them download helpful apps if they have a smartphone, such as one that helps them remember to take medication or pay bills.
Once things have settled down a bit, you might also look for a virtual support group for your loved one as they navigate their grief and start the process of getting through the days without their spouse. This can be a difficult transition for many, but talking to others who have been through similar experiences can be extremely helpful.
Helping a senior loved one through a major loss can be difficult for you both, so pay attention to your own needs, especially when the days are busy. Stay hydrated, take breaks to eat, and get adequate rest each night. Whether you’re helping them sell their home or to make financial decisions, use the above guidance to help your senior loved one adjust to their new life while they grieve.
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