Editor’s note: This is the second article in an ongoing series about dealing with being a new widow or widower. Find the first article here.

Getting through the first few months after losing a spouse can be difficult and overwhelming.

Eventually things will settle down and life will take on a new form of normalcy. Nothing will ever be the same for a widow or widower, but life will continue.

After the initial steps a widow or widower needs to take (such as ordering the death certificate and informing different organizations of the spouse’s passing) they need to take a breather and not make any major decisions for the next few months.

As the months go by, there are other tasks that will need to be handled. One of the biggest involves filing taxes.

“If they haven’t been using a certified public accountant before, they might want to use one this year because taxes will be different,” said Joy Garland, a certified fund specialist, certified income specialist, and managing partner of Roan Capital Partners. “People have a choice on how they file. I recommend finding someone to help you determine the option to file as single or file as married because widows and widowers have a choice the year they lose their spouse.”

Finding and hiring a CPA can help simplify a complicated tax situation. An accountant can help a widow or widower figure out which benefits are taxable and which ones are not along with maximizing any deductions. Their future taxes may differ and they may need to make changes accordingly.

So, what should a person look for in a CPA?

RCP recommends every widow or widower ask a few questions of a potential CPA. Those include:

  • How are you going to help me throughout the year?
  • How do I reduce taxes?
  • Do you have a strategy for my individual needs or will you only be filling out my tax forms?

A good CPA will be able to answer those questions and show how they can help a widow or widower throughout the entire year.

Another task that will need to be handled is finding a financial advisor. This step is very important because a good financial advisor will give guidance on how best to utilize any income and show how to make any retirement savings last.

“A widow or widower should sit down and talk with several financial advisors,” Garland said. “This way they can find someone they are comfortable doing business with. They should find someone in the area so they can have face-to-face meetings and it’s not just somebody in another state that you have to talk to over the phone.”

A good financial planner will assess a widow or widower’s current financial situation and determine the impact a spouse’s passing will have on the finances. They will help manage finances in a proactive way and craft a strategy to accomplish any new dreams or goals a widow or widower may have.

Roan Capital suggests asking friends and family for referrals on financial advisors. They also suggest taking a friend or family member to meetings, so a widow or widower does not feel intimidated or overwhelmed.

Another suggestion is to look for a fee-only financial advisor. A fee-only advisor is required by law to put the best interests of the client first. This way a widow or widower does not get taken advantage of by someone working on a commission.

“A widow or widower needs someone looking out for them after they lose their husband or wife,” said James Ferguson, a certified financial planner and managing partner for Roan Capital. “Hiring a fee-only financial planner is one way to ensure they have someone sitting on the same side of the table as they are and looking out for their best interests.”

Roan Capital Partners (“RCP”) is a registered investment adviser offering advisory services in the State of Tennessee and in other jurisdictions where exempted.  Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. The presence of this website on the Internet shall not be directly or indirectly interpreted as a solicitation of investment advisory services to persons of another jurisdiction unless otherwise permitted by statute. Follow-up or individualized responses to consumers in a particular state by RCP in the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation shall not be made without our first complying with jurisdiction requirements or pursuant an applicable state exemption.

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