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Know Where to Get Help Before You Need It
by Rhonda Royse

What would you do if your husband were to pass away tomorrow? Who would you call? Will your attorney/financial advisor/insurance agent even know who you are? Your husband says your family will be taken care of but how do you access the funds? Should you just cash everything out?

These and other questions are typically asked by women when their spouse passes away. Although women have been counseled to have a basic understanding of where their family finances are held and who to call in case of emergency, many still are more comfortable allowing their husband to handle the financial side of the marriage. Unfortunately, these lapses in knowledge can lead to big problems later when a spouse is gone and the fishing expedition begins - fishing for paperwork, contact numbers, account numbers and answers.

"The last thing a widow needs in the early days after her husbandapostrophes death is to wonder whether the next move she makes will cost her everything," says West Hunsaker, Chief Marketing Officer for Morris, Hall and Kinghorn, PLLC. "Yet oftentimes, women do just that, spend countless hours searching for important documents and looking for the numbers to call for help."

On average, women are living 5 to 10 years longer than men and 85% of those who reach 100 years of age (or older) are women (as reported by Laura Blue for Time Magazine, "Why Do Women Live Longer Than Men," August 2008). It seems, with these looming statistics, women would take a more active role in their familyapostrophes financial decision making. Yet most often, wives have never even met their family attorney, financial planner or insurance agent. Attorneys who specialize in estate planning find that oftentimes, after calling their family and the funeral home, widows donapostrophet know what number to dial next.

Women should have on hand a list of items they should have access to and be ready for in case of the death of a spouse, including bank records, tax returns, all account statements and real estate titles (just to name a few). Estate planners recommend gathering all the necessary documents but not to cash out anything until an attorney and financial advisor have been met with to discuss the proper steps. There is a short list of common mistakes women make just after a death that unfortunately, canapostrophet be reversed after meeting with an attorney or financial advisor (liquidating accounts for example).

Women need to be prepared. They should have a frank discussion with their husband or partner about their finances, where to find important documents and who to contact. Being introduced to attorneys, financial advisors and insurance agents is a must. The best way to fight fear is through preparation.

For more information regarding the steps women should take to prepare for a loss, please contact 888.222.1328or go to