Financial Considerations
of Widowhood
In This Issue
Losing a spouse is never easy and a difficult topic for many to even imagine. But when you become a widow or widower, moving beyond the grief to address important financial items in your life is essential. Whether you recently lost your loved one or you need to prepare for the road ahead, here are some considerations that will help you keep your financial house in order .
1. Identify changes in your financial life
Your financial life will immediately change once you lose a spouse. From lost income to changes in Social Security benefits and beyond, you will now need to address an array of financial items as you move into widowhood. Details such as creating a new budget and revisiting your living situation are important to examine as you identify your new economic profile and any changes to your standard of living. With the difficult decision making ahead, consulting with a financial representative can help ensure you make the right choices for your needs.  

2. Close any income gaps
When your spouse passes away, you may lose income you rely on for your financial standing. Unfortunately, as a result, widowhood can have dire financial consequences for the living spouse when a wage earner dies. [1] Women often have greater economic losses due to their own lower earnings throughout their lifetimes, further straining their finances. In fact, a woman born in 1948 earned on average roughly 46% less than men when working between ages 15 and 64 years old. [2] By identifying income gaps with your spouse's loss, you will be able to gain a better picture of how you need to fill those gaps moving forward.

3. Address your life insurance
Throughout your adult life, you've probably had the protection of life insurance. Once you enter widowhood, you will benefit from years of protecting you and your family. Beneficiary payouts usually become an important source of income for survivors. First, you'll need to identify the value of your life insurance policy and what options you have. From there, you will want to create a strategy for how best to apply your benefits. For some, that may mean paying down a mortgage to lessen its debt obligations while others may need the income to support their living expenses. Your unique financial life and specific life insurance policy will drive what options are available and make the most sense for your needs. You will also want to address any changes you must make to your coverage now that your needs have evolved. [3]

4. Review your estate 
With a spouse's passing, you will also have to address your estate and prepare to manage it in the most tax-efficient manner. In addition to addressing possible income taxes from the year your spouse died, you may also need to manage filing estate or inheritance tax returns for federal and state obligations. You may also need to explore if disclaiming property your spouse owned could improve your financial liabilities. Consulting with the appropriate attorney or accountant can help you identify your unique estate planning needs. [4] 

Overall, losing a spouse is a difficult experience, no matter what stage of life you're in. While addressing financial items is never easy during a time of grief, doing so is critical for securing your financial wellness. If you are recently widowed or want to prepare for the possibility of losing your spouse, we are more than happy to help you explore what planning needs you must address .

"Know what you own, and know why you own it."

- Peter Lynch

Skillet Turkey Pot Pie

Serves 4

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 lemon
  • ¾ cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 ½ cups shredded leftover turkey or rotisserie chicken
  • 3 ounces Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated
  • 3 ounces leftover sliced ham or thick sliced deli ham, torn into ½ inch pieces (about ½ cup)
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  1. Heat oven to 425°F. 
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.
  3. Cut the unfolded pastry into 10-inch round.
  4. Put in the prepared pan.
  5. Brush with the beaten egg then bake until puffed and golden, 18-22 minutes. 
  6. At the same time, squeeze 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and grate 2 teaspoons of lemon zest.
  7. Heat the cream cheese, lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons water over low heat in 9- to 10-inch skillet until melted and smooth.
  8. Stir in the sour cream, mustard, thyme, lemon zest, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. 
  9. Slowly pour in the turkey, gruyère, ham, scallions, and parsley. 
  10. Cook until heated through, about 3 minutes. 
  11. Top with puff pastry.

Recipe adapted from Good Housekeeping [5]

Why Should I Use Direct Deposit for Tax Refunds? *

Is direct deposit the best way to get your tax refund? The IRS says, "yes," which is why 80% of taxpayers designate direct deposit on their returns.

Here are 4 good reasons why:
  1. Speed: It's the fastest way to get your money. Filing electronically also speeds up the process. Taxpayers can use IRS Free File to prepare and send their forms.
  2. Security: Refunds go directly into your bank account. You don't have to worry about lost checks or stolen mail. The IRS uses the same electronic direct deposit system that the Social Security Administration and the Veterans Affairs uses for nearly all their benefits. 
  3. Simple: The IRS's e-file software makes direct deposit easy. Paper filing also provides simple instructions, which requires having available your correct figures for your bank account and routing number.
  4. Choices: The agency provides convenient alternatives for taxpayers, including splitting refunds into several accounts. Accounts may include checking, savings, health, education, or certain retirement holdings. IRS Form 8888, Allocation of Refund, allows you to divide your refund into up to 3 accounts. 
The IRS recommends having refunds deposited into accounts with your name, your spouse's name, or both. Don't designate accounts owned by others. Check with your bank to learn its requirements for depositing checks.

* This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor .

Tip courtesy of[6]
What's With the One-Handed Putt? 

You've seen them - the one-handed putters. They look so nonchalant, so relaxed, so professional.

What's with that single-handed putting? Why do they do it?

Putting with one hand reinforces two very important habits, says Rick Smith, who has coached Greg Norman and Phil Mickelson. Here are two reasons practicing the one-handed putt will improve your game:
  1. The one-handed putt helps you to release the putterhead properly, Smith says. Players who begin to miss putts frequently are having problems with the release. Practicing the one-handed putt reinforces the correct putting movement.
  2. The one-handed putt also helps to restore proper hand-eye coordination. It overrides the tendency to concentrate too much on the mechanics of putting. Putting is ultimately about hitting the ball into the hole. 
The right-handed putt restores that putting "feeling." You're giving yourself the opportunity to putt more smoothly in a straight line rather than the forced jab .

Tip adapted from Golf Digest [7]
Protecting You and Your Child From Allergies

The coughing, the wheezing, the difficulty in breathing. When you or your child has an asthmatic allergy attack, you're looking for immediate help. However, sometimes the best remedy is prevention, dealing with allergy triggers before they lead to an attack. 

While asthma sufferers have their own individual triggers, here is a list of the most common and what to do to eliminate them:
  • Dust mites are the most common allergic asthmatic triggers. They hide in sheets, mattresses, pillows, blankets, stuffed toys, carpets, curtains, and upholstered furniture. Wash bed linen at least once a week then put in a hot dryer. Also wash stuffed toys.
  • Cockroaches eat and drink what you do: water and leftovers. Their droppings, however, can cause asthma attacks. Keep food stored in your refrigerator or in airtight containers. Wash your dishes immediately.
  • Inside mold lurks in damp places of your houses: kitchen sinks, bathrooms, and other areas with leaks or standing water. Try to eliminate as much moisture in your house as possible, which may involve using a dehumidifier or air conditioner. 
  • Cats, dogs, hamsters, birds, and other pets can cause asthma attacks. The animals' dander, urine, and saliva are the triggers. Bathe pets at least once a week, and vacuum or sweep regularly. 
  • Reactions to pollen vary depending on the season and where you live. Monitor weather forecasts, and stay indoors if the pollen count rises to unhealthy levels.
  • Tobacco smoke is not only bad for your lungs, but it can prompt an allergic asthmatic attack. Prohibit smoking in your car and in your house. Also avoid wood fires.
Often the best way to counter an asthmatic attack is to remove the potential triggers .

Tip adapted from WebMD [8]
Turning Your Workout Green

Going green and working out may feel like irreconcilable pursuits. However, you can be environmentally friendly and get in shape at the same time.

Here are 6 tips to go green and get healthy:
  1. Get out! Go outside when you can. Instead of using home exercise equipment or going to the gym, you can go on a hike or bicycle ride.
  2. Recycle! Encourage your gym to go green with recycling containers or other environmentally friendly facilities.
  3. Carpool! Share a ride to the gym with a friend or neighbor. Carpooling cuts gas costs and provides workout incentives. Or you may want to ride your bicycle.
  4. Change clothes! Organic cotton or bamboo threads are excellent fabrics for workouts and for going green.
  5. No plastic! Start using refillable water bottles and stop using plastic bottles. Refillables are less expensive and help save landfills.
  6. Be creative! It might be difficult sometimes to go to the gym. Try filling in the exercising blanks with after-work hikes, zealous weekend work in the garden, or some hefty household chores.  

Tip adapted from EarthShare[9]

These are the views of Platinum Advisor Strategies, LLC and not necessarily those of the named representative, Broker dealer, or Investment Advisor, and should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named representative nor the named Broker dealer or Investment Advisor gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please consult your financial advisor for further information.
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