If you’ve read “Five Things to Do Following the Death of Your Spouse,” you know some of the things you should be doing.  In this post I will cover five things NOT to do following the death of your spouse to help you avoid further complicating your situation:

  1. Do not make any irrevocable financial decisions. The overriding theme of this list is to do no harm.  If you are not sure, and deferring a decision to a later date has no material consequence, just wait.
  2. Do not sell your home. Recognize that you are not selling just a piece of property but also a home with a lifetime of memories.  You may ultimately decide that selling your home is best for you, but don’t make that decision while in the fog of grief.  Try to give it at least one year.
  3. Do not loan or give money to friends or relatives. As a general rule, you should always proceed with extreme caution whenever you are dealing with family, friends, and money.  During this time, it’s best to not proceed at all.  The loss of a spouse can have all sorts of financial consequences, many of which may not yet be readily apparent.  Wait until you have a clearer picture of your own financial situation before you go down this road.
  4. Do not invest life insurance proceeds or make material changes to your financial plan unless absolutely necessary. For most people, proceeds from a life insurance policy will be the biggest single inflow of cash they will ever have.  You will have no shortage of people clamoring to give you advice on what to do with it.  It’s important to remember that this money, as well as your decisions on how you handle it, will have a profound impact on the rest of your life.  Be sure to work with a trusted professional to do a thorough review of your situation so that you can make an informed decision.

Do not give gifts to charity. You may be approached by your church or favorite charity about making a gift in the name of your spouse.  This may even be something that you and your spouse talked about.  Just remember that this can wait, and it can be addressed at a future date when you are in a better place.