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Short of losing a child, losing your spouse is the most painful event someone can experience. The sorrow is overwhelming and often times debilitating. It never goes away, but over time most people learn to peacefully co-exist with it.

My own experience becoming a widow

Unfortunately, major legal and financial decisions need to be made at a time when many people are incapable of making good decisions. Even folks who are financially sophisticated will forget to address an issue.

In my case, it was changing the names on the credit cards. My husband and I were in business together prior to his death. We reviewed our estate plan and made the necessary adjustments, transferred the ownership of the business to me along with the property we owned jointly. I thought we dotted every “i” and crossed every “t” until I needed to call a local department store. They closed the account because I wasn’t the primary card holder. I did get it reissued in my name, but not without a hassle.

Ideally couples come in for financial planning and, as a team, we choose the investments. Unfortunately, I have found more women have abdicated their financial responsibility than men. By that I mean they have chosen to let their husbands handle the investments and, in many cases, the day-to-day cash flow. In those situations, when the husband dies the women are panic stricken. Normally bright, sophisticated women become language impaired – they don’t process what you’re saying and can’t make a decision.