Financial planning for widows

Canada Life - Feb 29, 2024
It’s important to plan how you’ll manage your finances both in the short term and the long term if your spouse dies before you do.
An older woman is sitting, having coffee with a friend.

It’s something most couples don’t like to think about, but unfortunately, one of you will likely die before the other.

It’s important to plan how you’ll manage your finances if your spouse dies before you do. Some things you need to do right away while others you can take some time to manage.

Immediate steps

Shortly after your spouse dies, you’ll need to:

  • Gather the information for all your financial accounts including bank accounts, credit cards and investments
  • Locate your spouse’s will
  • If your spouse had life insurance, either a personal policy or as part of employer benefits, contact the insurance company to make a claim
  • Apply for Canada Pension Plan/Quebec Pension Plan survivor benefits or Guaranteed Income Supplement Widowed Spouse’s Allowance

Longer-term steps


As you’ll be losing one income, it’s important to re-evaluate your financial situation, your budget, your retirement goals and retirement plan. I can help you make sense of this new financial reality.

According to a recent Canada Life survey, it’s not uncommon for women to feel the financial pinch of one income more than men. Often, their income and their pension will be smaller than men.

Take charge of your finances

  • Review your estate plan
  • Revise beneficiaries for investments and insurance policies
  • Update your will and power of attorney
  • Change the ownership title for bank accounts, investments and your car and home
  • To prevent fraud, cancel your spouse’s government ID cards and credit card
  • Cancel any services or subscriptions your spouse used that you no longer need, including social media and apps

What's next?

Talking about how your finances will change after the death of your partner can be a difficult but it’s important to set you up for financial success. Let’s set up a time to:

  • Review your estate plan and revise your beneficiaries for investment and insurance policies
  • Revise your retirement plan