If your husband just passed away, you might be lost for what do next, especially when it comes to your personal finances.

The big question you might have in your mind is whether you have enough to live on. “Nobody is thinking about that until an altering event happens,” says Jaime Quiros, a Certified Financial Planner with FBB Capital Partners in Maryland, says. “Do I have enough? Oftentimes we’re trying to figure out.”

But in your time of grief, there are actually reasons to take heart. First, you actually have many peers like you: 70% of all married female baby boomers will experience widowhood. So there is a roadmap for you to follow and experienced professionals to help you. And with the average age that this happens only at 59 and a half, this is the perfect time to take control of your finances and put it to use building your own perfect retired life, whether that means traveling with your friends or hanging out with the grandbabies – or both!

Founded by Susan Breakefield Fulton in 1989, FBB Capital Partners can boast that half of its advisors are female. And that special touch has attracted through word of mouth many of a particular type of client: women who have lost their husbands. Quiros has worked with many women who are in a situation just like yours. Here are his four top tips on what to do to protect your finances right after the loss of your partner:

Allow yourself to grieve before making big decisions.

Quiros says that his firm’s financial advice for a widow is similar to the advice they give to anyone. “If anything, it’s more about taking your time,” he says.

When he first sits down with a widow, “Hopefully they’ve had some time to grieve. That’s what should be happening,” he says. “Losing a spouse is one of the top losses that a human can experience. So I try to gauge where they are at whether it’s something they can move forward with.”

So don’t rush into anything while you’re still processing and adjusting to your new reality. “Don’t give any money away, for a couple years,” he says. You need to determine how much you have, and will need, first.

Have a reliable team of professionals around you.

“It’s a tough time to deal with that added stress,” Quiros says. “Hopefully you have a team ready to help guide you through that.”

He’s not talking about a bridge team, though social support is important. What he’s talking about is a team of professionals that can give you advice, act as a sounding board, help you settle your husband’s affairs, and help you set up a new financial plan just for you: a financial advisor, a lawyer, and an accountant.

“If you’re in a position where you’re not ready to hire with anyone, at least start getting familiar with people you may consider to help you in case something happens,” Quiros says. That means reaching out and having conversations with potential advisors, lawyers, and accountants, and having their number handy when you need help.

If your current financial advisor, the one that you used with your husband, is not meeting your needs, don’t be afraid to look for a new one. An estimated 70% of widows fire their advisors within a year of their husband’s death.

“You want someone you can trust, someone who is easy to talk to and accessible, someone who is not counting the minutes or emails or calls,” Quiros says. “Someone you can run anything by financially, whether it’s selling your house, buying a car, or renting your home.” Your advisor should pick up the phone and talk with you without billing you for it afterward.

You probably want to go with a fee-only financial advisor. That means the financial advisor only earns money by charging you a fee. The alternative is that they might earn a commission on products they sell you. “By doing fee-only we’re stripping away all potential conflicts of interest,” Quiros says. “You want someone navigating with you, as opposed to trying to sell you something.” Read more on the difference between fee-only and commission.

Don’t buy any financial products.

You might be approached by a professional who wants to sell you a product, such as additional life insurance, a real estate trust, or an annuity. And the terms will be confusing. “I would say do not buy them,” Quiros says. “We’ve heard stories of people buying a financial products in these vulnerable times that they later regretted.”

This is where having a team already in place will be handy. If anyone tries to sell you something, bring that information to your trusted financial advisor, who can tell you whether or not it’s a good idea.

Introduce your children to your financial advisor.

“Hopefully the advisor is doing a good job of getting to know the next generation as well, knowing the kids and knowing what the parents want,” Quiros says. His firm has had clients who worry about how the children are going to treat the surviving spouse after their death, whether they’re going to be more needy or start asking for more money.

You know your children best, but an advisor can act as a neutral third party to tell you whether you can truly afford to gift money for college or a down payment. “It’s something we have our antennas up for, to make sure the client is being taken care of and not taken advantage of by the children,” Quiros says.


No matter how well-versed you are in your personal finances – an ace investor, completely flummoxed, or somewhere in between – the advice above holds true. In this confusing time, the most important thing is that you are getting advice and support from trustworthy professionals who have your best interests at heart. And if you need to find a good financial advisor, you can do so through GuideVine, which makes finding the perfect pre-vetted advisor near you easy.

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Alden Wicker

Alden Wicker

Alden Wicker is a freelance journalist specializing in personal finance and sustainable lifestyle topics. She lives in New York, and is an expert at finding new and interesting ways of generating extra income. Her biggest budget weakness is eco-friendly fashion. Follow Alden on Twitter and Google+