My dear husband recently passed away. For forty years he handled our finances and I'm lost without him. I want to make sure our savings last so that I have financial security. My husband was a wonderful handyman who could fix anything and he did most of the yard work. I am considering selling the house and moving to a retirement community. Also, I work full time, but am thinking of retiring or changing to a less demanding job. There are so many decisions to make, where do I start?
Make sure you are careful in your choice of the person you want to help you with this planning. If you were married 40 years and have children, consideration should be given to involving them in your planning. I most generally involve children in any planning I do with senior clients. This has to be planning that is of benefit to the client, and generally I have found if I can involve another party beside me, that has the clients best at heart it always confirms any program or plan set in place. Let me know if I can help.
BarbBQ, I'm sorry for your loss. It may seem impossible to consider a normal future right now, but you will be amazed at how much strength you have. Please do not make any changes right away. Learn what you can about your finances and keep the bills up to date. But don’t make major life changes like retiring or moving in a rush. A great place to start to put things in perspective is www.wiserwomen.org. This site is run by the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement. They have a retirement calculator to help you know how much you will need to live, resources for estate and retirement planning, details about types of survivor benefits and social security, pensions, etc. Another good site is www.wife.org a non-profit that focuses on women’s financial independence. Just having a place to start was a big help for me when my husband died.
I am sorry about your husband's passing. Take some time off from work if you can but I wouldn't recommend changing jobs or moving right now. Don't worry about fixing things around the house - most of that can wait. When the time is right, you'll want to create a plan for your finances that suits you. It may mean you change jobs or move to a new home. To create a plan, you take stock of where you are now and look at your income and your living expenses. If you're living on less than what you're making - great! Otherwise you'll need to scale back. Then, look at what sources of income you'll have when you retire. This may include social security, pensions and other retirement accounts, as well as savings. To retire, you want to have enough income from these sources to live comfortably. A financial planner can guide you through this process by helping you estimate future medical expenses, determine when to start collecting social security, and when to withdraw from various retirement accounts. The National Association for Personal Financial Planners (www.napfa.org) and the Alliance of Cambridge Advisors (www.acaplanners.org) are two organizations whose members offer fee-only planning. It might make sense to contact a member near you to set up a financial review that could give you peace of mind now and a guide to help for full planning later when you're ready to take that step.
Beware of Scams! Shortly after my dad died my mother was the target of a terrible scam by a con artist that preyed on widows. He called her, identifying himself as on officer of the court, and told her she had missed her assigned jury duty. When she said she didn’t know anything about it he treated her horribly, saying she was obviously trying to get out of her civic duty. When she became upset, he told her he would try to have the warrant for her arrest cancelled but would need her full legal name, date of birth and social security number. She gave it to him and now is a victim of identity theft. What a mess! Don’t take advice or give money to ANYONE.
Count on your family to care for your emotions, not your finances. It is a big mistake to let your kids take over your finances. Count on them for emotional support, but not financial advice. My sister turned all financial decisions over to her son, who had no expertise. He made unwise investments and she also ended up paying more in taxes than she would have with a qualified financial adviser. If you don’t have one ask your lawyer or accountant for a recommendation of someone they know is an expert in life planning. The goal is to maximize your income while minimizing your taxes. Also you want to be sure your assets are protected and you may want to plan how you want your estate handled. Also, if you do decide to make a change, like selling your house, they can offer valuable advice and connect you with a network of other qualified professionals.
I agree with all of the replies you've had so far, especially with the advice that you involve you children (if any) in important financial decisions. Furthermore, you should distinguish "want" from "needs." You should consider writing down Policy Statements for anything that might cost a significant amount of money. For example, if you need repairs around the house, write a policy statemtment that says that you will get three or four bids for the job before you make a final decision about who does the work, and specifically what work will be involved, start to finish.
Decide how they will be paid, ie percentage of completion basis if appropriate. Then, stick to the policy.
Plan your purchases carefully before you shop for major items.
Don't hire anybody just because they seem nice or deserving. Check them out carefully with the BBB or references. For home projects, use only licensed and insured contractors.
In short, avoid obvious mistakes made by others. Be suspecious and deliberate as a matter of policy.
Its been1yr we married08/29/04 he took his last breath on08/25/09we lived together 3yrs before getting married andtogether since1994 i thought his children accepted me he was and is the love of my life it was both our 3rd marriage our kids were over18yrs and had there own lives they came and stoled his blazer 4days after he passed in feb we purchased a 1991pickup but hadnt put in his name he also had a classic motorcycle that his family wanted we met at work fell in love but i got hurt at one of my jobs and permatley disabled waiting for my ssi my husband was the only income he didnt mind he gave me everything the day he passed his kids made me go with them to make funeral arrg my husband never told me he wanted to be creamated they pushed it on me at that time we were only living on his unem i had no way to pay i was to get his pension kids were mad they took his ashes to this day i cant bury him i reg his truck insured itfixed it i have pink sherriff let them take it i need legal advise plz to get my husb
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