If you are over the age of 50 and newly single, this checklist should be a guide to the conversations you and your advisor should be having when formulating a plan that is best for you. Your financial security and well-being is your advisor’s top priority, and they are there to help!
1. Determine a Starting Point
Doing a financial inventory is a critical first step on the right path to ensuring you are set up for your future. When working with your advisor at a time like this, it is a good idea to set goals and boundaries for the upcoming years. What assets do you have, including those you have inherited from your spouse? Are there any joint debts? Did your spouse have a pension or 401(k)? Are you the beneficiary of any life insurance? Also take into consideration your own individual assets. For example, investments, real estate, retirement accounts, etc. A key point of determining this starting point is creating a cash flow analysis with your advisor to know exactly where you stand.
2. Adjust Retirement Planning
You will most likely need to make substantial adjustments to your retirement plan. This is the time to set new goals and reevaluate your retirement resources. If you are still working, your advisor will stress how important it is to continue to contribute to your 401(k). You and your advisor should go over your IRA’s and old retirement accounts and make sure they align with the goals you have for the future.
3. Organize your Social Security Benefits
You and your advisor should be reviewing not only your own social security benefits, but also the benefits you may be entitled to as a surviving spouse or divorced spouse. There are specific rules surrounding social security benefits and your advisor will know just how to navigate them.
4. Review Estate Planning and Life Insurance
Your advisor will want to review your estate planning, including beneficiary designations on any life insurance policies, retirement plan accounts, annuities, and trusts. This is to determine if any adjustments should be made to reflect any of your new goals.
5. Tax Planning
Now that you will be filing as single, this will affect your tax planning. If you are a window or widower, you may be eligible in some circumstances to continue filing as a married person for up to two years after the death of your spouse. However, tax planning is critical at a time like this, and it is important that you and your advisor speak about the adjustments being made.
6. Considering Long Term Care
You and your advisor will be sure to create a plan that meets your health insurance needs. If you were previously covered through your spouse’s employer’s plan, crossing this off your checklist should be a priority. It is important to speak with your advisor about your options going forward and formulate a long-term plan that you are happy with.
The most important thing to remember during a time like this is that there are options. Trust that your advisor will put you on the right path to long-term success and do not be afraid to ask questions! We are here to help!