Helping a parent financially after death of a loved one

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It is a scenario that is all too common. Widows and widowers can find themselves treading water financially after the death of a loved one. 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney looks at how "adult kids" can help their grieving parent get through this tough time.

San Francisco resident Charlene Tuchman is still getting used to life without her husband, Sidney, one year after his death.

They were married for 62 years. "He was fun. He was a little bit outrageous, he was sweet. He was kind," she said.

Sidney ran a big dry-cleaning business in Indianapolis and took care of all the finances at home. "When it came to things like insurance, investments, and building the funds and money, I seriously had absolutely no idea," Charlene said.

Her son happens to be a managing director of the Palo Alto-based retirement investment management company Rebalance IRA. Mitch Tuchman says the firm works with a lot of people who are widowed or divorced from spouses who made the financial decisions for them. "It's very stressful, and money powers one's life generally, so when you don't have that control, it's very scary for people," said Tuchman.

He sat down with his mother to ease her fears.

The first thing he told her was to postpone any big financial decisions until her stress eased. He then asked her to get a better handle on her spending. "We find a lot of people don't really understand how much they're really spending, particularly if there's a bread winner in the family," said Mitch.

If you cannot afford a financial adviser, turn to free financial calculators online. Mitch emphasizes his clients should invest their savings in ETFs or Exchange Traded Funds, which have lower fees. He says a difference of even 1 percent in fees can add up.
Finally, you can protect yourself against a downturn in the economy by having well-balanced portfolio in a wide variety of investments. Charlene says she is now prepared for what's ahead. "I think that was a relief, a total relief, because I could be who I was and I didn't have to worry," she said.

Here are links to free online calculators recommended by Mitch Tuchman to help you get a better handle on your finances.

Maximum my Social Security: This helps you calculate when someone should take social security

Retirement Planning Tools: MarketWatch

Mint: This helps bring all your finances together, and gives you a better grasp of what you are spending.

Written and Produced by Randall Yip

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
Copyright © 2021 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.