Our New York estate planning attorneys have decades of experience helping local families following the death of a loved one. We have come to appreciate the role that we play in this difficult time via the estate administration and probate settlement process. Financial uncertainty is the last thing that families need when struggling with emotions after losing a loved one.
A recent New York Life Foundation survey of local residents who had lost a spouse confirmed the vital role that New York estate planning plays in many lives. As reported yesterday in Life Health Pro, nearly sixty percent of survey respondents admitted that “losing my spouse has significantly impacted our standard of living.” More than half of survey respondents explained that they were not financially prepared at the time that they lost their spouse. For those widows and widowers who still had children living with them at the time of the loss, the financial struggles were even more severe.
The report found that “nearly everything involving money–either on their own behalf or on behalf of their children–was harder following the loss.” These money troubles were especially pronounced among families that had lost a spouse young or had failed to conduct any estate planning. For example, two out of three spouses agreed that it was much harder to save money following the loss. Sixty percent admitted that they had trouble managing household finances after the loss, with few able to find any available resources to spend even modest sums on themselves. For families with children, the consequences of these money troubles can be long-lasting. Over sixty percent of parents said that it was virtually impossible to save for their children’s college education following the death. Nearly half had the same problem in paying for affordable health care.
Many surveyed said that the situation would have been better had some consultation been done before the loved ones’ passing. Nearly two out of three survey respondents admitted that they did not have financial planning advice at the time of the death, and virtually all of them agreed that they would have been better off had they sought professional advice. Among the one third of survey respondent who did have the help of professionals with long-term financial planning, the vast majority of them found the aid help to be “very helpful.” They explained that the helpfulness came in two forms: actual assistance with finances and basic emotional support while interacting with the family at the difficult time.
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