Choosing the Right Financial Advisor: Considerations for Widows and Widowers
Losing a spouse is not only an emotionally challenging experience, but it can also bring significant financial changes and uncertainties. Suddenly, you can find yourself facing the daunting task of managing your finances alone. Let’s explore some essential considerations for widows and widowers in financial planning, and why we believe choosing the right financial advisor can be paramount to helping secure your financial future.
The Importance of Financial Planning for Widows and Widowers
Financial planning for widows and widowers isn’t just about managing your assets; it’s about ensuring your financial security and peace of mind during a difficult transition. Here’s why it’s essential:
Managing complex financial affairs. Widows and widowers often find themselves dealing with complex financial matters they may not have had to manage during their spouse’s lifetime. This includes managing retirement accounts, handling investments, optimizing tax strategies, and understanding Social Security benefits. If your spouse was the “family CFO,” you may find that navigating these complexities can be overwhelming without expert guidance.
Protecting your financial future. Financial security is paramount for widows and widowers, especially when considering your long-term financial goals. It’s crucial to make informed decisions to safeguard your assets, provide for yourself during your lifetime, and pass any remaining assets on to your heirs or beneficiaries, if desired.
Avoiding financial pitfalls. If you’re new to managing your finances because your spouse always handled them before, you may be especially vulnerable to becoming a victim of a scam. Cyber criminals are developing new tactics every day, designed to catch you off-guard and gain access to your accounts. It’s crucial to remain vigilant and follow the latest account security protocols.
How a Financial Advisor Can Help
Widows and widowers often rely on family or friends for financial guidance after losing a spouse, but professional assistance can be of great value during this challenging time. Here’s how a financial advisor can help:
A comprehensive financial assessment. A qualified, fiduciary financial advisor will begin by conducting a thorough assessment of your financial situation, including your assets, liabilities, and income sources. In this “discovery” phase, your advisor will also help you identify your specific financial and life goals. Your answers will help form the foundation for your updated financial plan.
Tailored financial strategies. Based on your unique circumstances, your financial advisor will develop a personalized financial plan that aligns with your goals. The plan’s strategies may include optimizing your retirement accounts, managing investments, and ensuring you maximize Social Security benefits.
Risk mitigation. Your financial advisor can help you identify and mitigate potential financial risks, such as market volatility, inflation, or unexpected expenses. They will seek to understand your risk tolerance and work to create a portfolio that balances growth potential with your concerns about risk.
What to Look for in a Financial Advisor
If you’ve never worked with a financial advisor before, you may not realize that not all advisors work the same way. Your spouse may have worked with a financial advisor who didn’t include you in the conversation when asking about your goals, or ignored your concerns about certain investments. Just because your spouse worked with this individual before doesn’t mean you have to keep the advisory relationship going after your spouse’s death. In fact, many surviving spouses choose to work with a different advisor. But not all financial advisors are created equal. Here are some qualities to consider when searching for the right advisor for your needs:
Fiduciary responsibility. Ensure your advisor operates under a fiduciary duty, meaning they are legally obligated to act in your best interests. This helps you receive advice that prioritizes your financial wellbeing, not your advisor’s profit margin.
Specialization in widow/widower financial planning. Look for an advisor with specific experience working with widows and widowers. They will understand the unique challenges and opportunities that come with this life stage.
Transparent fee structure. Make sure you understand the advisor’s fee structure upfront. Fee-only advisors, like those at Savant Wealth Management, are compensated solely by client fees and don’t sell financial products, helping to reduce potential conflicts of interest.
Familiarity with long-term financial strategies for widows and widowers. While every widow and widower’s financial situation is unique, be sure your advisor is holistic in his or her approach, covering areas such as:
- Estate planning. Your financial advisor should work with you to create or update your estate plan. This includes wills, trusts, and designating beneficiaries, ensuring your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
- Global diversification. Diversifying your assets globally can help mitigate risk and potentially increase long-term returns. Work with your advisor to create an investment policy that aligns with your risk tolerance and financial goals.
- Social Security optimization. Ask your advisor to explore strategies to maximize your Social Security benefits. This can provide you with a more substantial income stream during retirement.
How Savant Wealth Management Works with Widows and Widowers
At Savant Wealth Management, we understand the unique financial challenges widows and widowers face. Our team of experienced financial advisors specializes in providing compassionate and timely guidance during these times of transition.
Choosing the right financial advisor, one with experience working with widows and widowers, can make all the difference. By working with an advisor you trust and following sound financial strategies, we believe you can protect your financial security and create a lasting legacy for your loved ones.