SENIOR WIDOWS: FINANCIAL CONCERNS

Sep 3rd, 2011 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Senior Finances

Vulnerability of Senior Widows

We all know women live longer than men on average, and many senior women are highly vulnerable when it comes to finances and managing their financial life.  Many senior women today grew up in the era where women were considered ‘ladies’ and therefore had to be coddled, protected, helped in and out of cars, kept from doing manual labor and completely and totally shut out of dealing with money and family finances.  Unfortunately, this resulted in health issues from lack of simply using their bodies on a daily basis and financial idiocy. As a result, when widowed later in life, they are at risk to be taken advantage of by slick salesmen, and even by adult children who have their eyes on family money.

A lot is being written about such issues, and is available online with a simple search phrase, “widows financial concerns”.  The best of all possible worlds is that you and your deceased spouse already considered your financial issues together before he died, and you already have all the information you need to have about your finances. Senior citizens everywhere need to understand the husband-wife team has the emphasis on team.  They need to have worked together understanding the financial picture as completely as possible, in the event of either of them dying.  One needs to be able to carry-on after the death of the other, without interferences caused by lack of information and understanding of bank accounts, investments, pensions, Social Security, property.

Tips for Senior Widows Who Need Help with Finances

However, in the event a couple does not plan together and it’s not the best of all possible worlds, SCJ editors found some interesting information in several places online that we want to share with all you women readers out there who don’t know much about money and managing it.  Here is the compilation of suggestions for you:

  • First, if you don’t know anything (or very little) about your financial picture, educate yourself. Determine that you can learn what you have to learn to manage your finances.  If you sit around, wringing your hands about losing your husband and lamenting your fate, you will be taken advantage of at every turn in the road.  Go to someone outside your family preferably who can refer you to a competent and trustworthy financial planner, if you do not already have one.  Tell her/him you want to learn about your total financial picture, and ask for help.
  • Keep paying your bills.  Be sure you understand how your health insurance works.  File the necessary papers to collect on life insurance policies your deceased spouse may have had.
  • No major decisions for several months. This includes, buying or selling your home and changing any investments you may have.  You are in grief over the loss of your spouse, and you need time to grieve.  It’s not a good time to do anything else that has a major impact on your life.
  • Make it a rule to get at least three opinions on any major change/investment/move you are considering.  The ‘rule of three’ keeps many widows out of a lot of hot water.
  • Some adult children are greedy; some are not.  Some men want to date widows for their money; some want companionship.  You may not know who is who at first, so be cautious.  Give your children money, if you and your deceased spouse planned to do so, or if you can do so comfortably and without financial strain on yourself. Say no if that’s what you need to say, or have your financial planner or attorney do it for you.  Spend time getting to know a man before you make any commitment about the future; do background checks if you don’t already know what his life has been like.
  • Finally, once you have armed yourself with a financial education and a trusted financial planner, make changes in your investments/home/bank accounts/property that you know with all certainty available are good changes, and will have a positive impact on your life.

Widowhood does not have to be Ignoranthood.  You can learn what you need to know and be a competent senior citizen able to manage your life, with the help of trustworthy professionals/family/friends.



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