As if losing a spouse isn’t stressful enough, you may now find yourself responsible for you or your families financial future.

If you haven’t been involved in planning the family finances or are overwhelmed by the whole confusing world of investing, insurance and banking, there is some help out there.

According to the book Managing Alone by Jennifer Black and Janet Baccarani, one of the key things to do following a loss is to establish your own financial identity. If you are comfortable working with banks and credit card companies to open and maintain accounts, it is best to do this as soon as possible.

If you think you might need some professional assistance, Black and Baccarani have some ideas to consider for choosing a financial advisor including:

  • Asking the potential advisor about their financial certifications and how these designations contribute to clients well-being.
  • Finding out if the advisor has a network of other professionals they can provide if you need access to them i.e. accountants, lawyers, financial planners etc.
  • Do they consider your full financial situation i.e. investments, estate, tax planning, insurance or do you need to go to other professionals for these services?
  • Asking for an estimate of annual charges (is it hourly, by commission, or by service)
  • Consider if you are the right client for this advisor. Do they have similar clients with similar financial requirements? Are they familiar with the type of situation you might have?
  • How many clients does the advisor have ( i.e. are you one of many or one of a few)?

Two more great tips from the site Practical Money Skills  are:

  • Rewrite your will and Power of Attorney documents, outlining how you’d like your financial and health matters handled if you become disabled.
  • Live frugally until you have a good understanding about your new financial situation and decide whether you need to adjust your way of living.

Sometimes life after loss can feel overwhelming and decisions about finances are the last thing you want to think about.  If you feel this way, try to just take one small step at a time.  You can read a book like Managing Alone or ask trusted friends or relatives for their input.  It’s important not to make any big decisions too quickly, but putting a plan in place may be reassuring as you move forward into the future.