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Don't Go It Alone

Don't Go It Alone

May 16, 2018

The road of life is not a straightaway, for better or for worse. Each of our paths twists in one way or another. Sometimes we curve in familiar directions, but when in uncharted territory, a sudden turn can mean shock, tragedy, and lingering nerves.

A lot of us think we'll never get married; no one will ever love us enough, or we'll never love someone else enough, to make that commitment. But many people who have had these thoughts eventually find themselves standing at the altar. Similarly, once you find yourself in a comfortable relationship, you're probably too happy to ever imagine that there could be an end.

There is no question that, for most, the loss of a partner as a result of either death or divorce, is extremely difficult and painful. It is also true that most people do not want to discuss finances in the wake of sad events, regardless of the fact that parting ways with a significant other may have more of an effect on your bank accounts than any other transition you've experienced in life thus far. Because of this, the sooner you can figure out your financial situation the better. Understandably, this task can be quite daunting. One way to lessen the burden is to meet with financial professionals.

If you've been widowed, it's going to be hard to be practical at this time. A financial professional can help you with that. You may have to figure out things such as paying bills that your partner used to take care of, and you will probably have to do this within weeks of their passing. You may also need help updating insurance plans, wills and beneficiary forms.

Even after you've dealt with the initial shock of loss, and probably some financial deadlines that came up during your grieving process, you're probably going to want some help with the big picture. For example, after you've been widowed, where should you live? This question alone can cause hours of emotional deliberation.

Maybe your heart is telling you to stay in the home you built with your partner, and this might be just fine for some people. For others, you may want to make a change; if not for your heart's sake, then for your wallet's. Financial professionals can help you navigate through a plethora of options. Are you good where you're at? Is it a smart idea for you to refinance? Should you move to a smaller house? Could you live with family or friends? If you've been widowed later in life, would moving into a retirement home be the best choice for you? Don't be afraid to ask these questions. You should wait around half a year to tackle decisions this large if you can. Most financial advisors would agree with that and can help you to start developing hypothetical plans before you need to put them into action.

When your status is suddenly changed from married to single because of a divorce, financial professionals can be invaluable. Widows, widowers, and divorcees will often have similar questions in regards to their finances. Unfortunately, these common uncertainties often arise because one spouse in the partnership handled the money mostly, if not completely, by themselves. It might seem convenient at the time, to have a significant other who likes to deal with money, especially if you're their polar opposite. A concerning amount of people, however, come out of a relationship to find that their spouse was spending money on things that they were completely unaware of, and possibly even accruing debts. If you got stuck in a situation like this, you're definitely going to want the help of a financial advisor now that you're out of it.

Maybe your big life transition to single is now in your past and the damage control has been done. Maybe you've even moved forward and are ready to remarry! This is another great time to seek out financial help, especially if you struggled to involve yourself in the financial aspects of your previous relationship. You don't have to make the same mistakes twice.

Bring your new partner to meetings with your financial advisor. Discussing finances is important in new relationships, not only for practical reasons, but to avoid stressful arguments. Money can cause a lot of friction in any relationship and the best way to avoid this is to talk openly and honestly about it. Financial professionals can be knowledgeable and unbiased guides through conversations between newer couples about merging finances, new investing strategies, estate planning, prenuptial agreements, beneficiary designations, health costs, credit scores, and debt. Do any of these topics sound thorny to you? They definitely can be, so don't feel like you have to have these discussions with just your significant other present.

Now, financial professionals are not magicians. During a big life transition, it’s important to understand that a lot of these practical decisions may require coordination with your lawyer. But the best advice we can give is that you shouldn't go through anything like this alone. If you think that any of the services we offer here at InTrack Investment Management sound like they could be of help to you, please do not hesitate to contact us.