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5 Financial Items I Wish I Knew Before I Lost My Spouse

Cypress Wealth Services

April 2021

If you’ve recently become widowed, we know you’re experiencing a difficult time that no one else can truly understand. We also know you may be overwhelmed by the life management tasks you’re now solely responsible for—tasks that may have been taken care of by your spouse.

All too often, we encounter widows and widowers who preferred to let their spouses manage the family finances. For multiple decades, you may have been content to let your spouse make retirement contributions, choose investment decisions, and design the estate plan.

If this is you, that’s okay. There are resources available to help you navigate these new waters. You can also partner with financial advisors like the team at Cypress Wealth Services, who have helped dozens of widows and widowers successfully manage this new transition.

1. Know Where To Start

Fully managing your own finances can be a vast new subject matter, so we understand if you feel like a deer caught in headlights. You suddenly need an intimate understanding of all your income sources, your expenses, your assets, your liabilities, your plans for the future, your insurance policies, and your estate plan.

To help you make sense of all these items, our team has designed a streamlined process to help you during this transition. We begin with our Life After Loss workbook, which is a simple checklist and timeline you can use to list all personal and financial items you need to take care of during this transition period. We believe this is the best way to stay organized and in control.

2. Find Out What You Own And What You Owe

Once you’ve filled out this checklist, your next step is to gain a full understanding of everything you own and everything you owe. This understanding allows you to plan for your future with more confidence, taking into account the resources you have available and the debts you may be obligated to, such as your remaining mortgage balance or debt from personal loans.

We provide you with a Know Where You Stand worksheet, which helps us determine your monthly cash flow—the income you have available and your typical expenses—through a simple budgeting tool. Although creating this budget may feel burdensome at first, we’re confident that this process gets easier over time, as many of your monthly expenses are repetitive.

3. Create A Financial Plan

Once you understand your income and expenses, you can make long-term plans that are designed to protect you and provide financial security. You can make use of calculators and other financial planning tools that will provide you with the information you need to answer questions like the following:

  • How much do I need to have saved so I don’t run out of money in retirement?
  • If I don’t have enough saved now, what can I do to boost my savings?
  • What are the tax characteristics of the different assets I own?
  • How will I plan for the possibility of long-term care needs?
  • What do I want to happen to my remaining wealth after I’m gone?

Pursuing the answers to these questions might feel like a formidable task, but if you don’t deal with them now, you may find yourself in a tricky spot down the road. And it may be harder than ever to ensure your security at that point.

But you don’t have to do this alone. Partnering with a trusted financial planner can help you create plans to answer these questions with more confidence.

4. Understand Your Health Insurance

Another important part of your financial well-being is your health insurance. Whether your spouse was still working and providing the two of you with employer-sponsored health insurance or you’ve been using Medicare, it’s important to know how to access and pay for your health insurance in case something happens to you. This is a financial item that should be prioritized, as you never know when you’ll need your health insurance.

5. Access Your Income Properly

Finally, many need help learning how to access their income, especially if they are now entitled to life insurance proceeds or Social Security benefits that once belonged to their spouse. Many widows or widowers may also be drawing income from retirement accounts or other investments that their spouses took care of. It’s important to access this income properly, as it’s very difficult to undo the damage when you withdraw too much or from the wrong sources at the wrong time.

How We Help

Our mission is to help bring confidence and clarity to your financial life as we help you successfully handle this transition. Our Life In A Book® workbook makes it easier for you to organize all your personal and financial information in one place, using one streamlined process. We offer support all throughout the journey to make sure you’re well taken care of. Call our office today at 866.888.6563 or contact one of our offices today to see how we can help you.


About Cypress Wealth Services

Cypress Wealth Services is an independent RIA firm providing financial planning and investment management to high net worth individuals, families, business owners, and institutions. Cypress Wealth Services comprises professionals with diverse backgrounds and extensive experience and qualifications. Cypress Wealth Services is uniquely qualified to serve a broad range of client needs, and their experience and expertise act as a foundation for their client service process. The firm uses The Second Growth, which focuses on efficiently protecting, growing, and transferring to their loved ones the wealth and legacy a person has already built. With financial advisors in Palm Desert, CA, Tustin, CA, and Anchorage, AK, the firm serves clients across the country in Wealth Management Services, Fiduciary Services, 401(k) Design and Management, Investment Reporting Services, Financial and Retirement Planning, and more. For more information, visit or call 760.834.7250.