Everyone has been touched at some time in their lives by a family member or loved one who experiences an injury, or perhaps a death in the family. It is at these times that sound financial decision-making is the most difficult. Grief and pain make it hard to think, much less process and make sound decisions. Planning and having a semblance of a game plan for your finances that you make out before such crisis occurs will save you hundreds or thousands of dollars when calamity does strike.
Here are some things that you should consider in the first days and weeks following a crisis event. Keep in mind it is not meant to be an all-inclusive list, but rather a starting place that you can use to formulate your own plan. A great deal of these suggestions are aimed toward those Service Member families who have lost a loved one, but part of these also apply to those injured facing permanent disability or a long recovery road.
The best focus at first is what not to do. Do not make snap or hasty decisions. Do not rush into action, such as moving, retiring, changing jobs, changing investments unless absolutely necessary. Most decisions while pressing can be taken cautiously, some actions once taken you cannot easily undo. Postpone all but the most pressing and urgent financial decisions until you have had a chance to take stock, and think everything through. During the crisis is the worst time to make long term and heavy-duty financial decisions.
Make a list of financial issues that need to be taken care of in the coming weeks. Try to prioritize the list, but at first just make sure you write down anything that occurs to you in the way of financial decisions, you can edit the list later. When dealing with a family death, keep the following in mind:
-Apply for any applicable Death Benefits.
-Apply for multiple certified copies of the Death Certificate.
-Apply for social security and retirement benefits.
-Settle the financial and other estate issues.
Remember to review powers of attorney, wills and living wills. Make funeral arrangements. Review all assets including bank and credit accounts, property, residences, vehicles, investments and any safe deposit boxes. While not a complete list, this will help start you on the road to sanity in planning after a crisis strikes.