Death & Taxes: Filing Alone After My Husband's Death

grief and taxes

A widow is confronted with filing taxes without her husband — and the surprising sense of loss.

As the saying goes, "Nothing is certain but death and taxes." I've discovered there's another certainty, "Once there is death, there are still taxes and doing taxes while grieving is horrible!" I've been very clear in the eight months since my husband's sudden death that grieving is a huge amount of work. It's like riding a roller-coaster in the fog with sudden unexpected twists and turns that keep coming when I feel least able to cope with them. It's absolutely exhausting.

And one of those unexpected turns is tax time. One of the many, many things I loved about my husband Tony was his talent as a financial wiz. He could do complicated math problems in his head. He knew the balance of every one of our accounts by memory. And, not only did he do our taxes every year, he did this for family members and friends too.

On our third date, I was telling Tony how I'd been working on "banking" stuff that day. Tony asked, "How often do you check your bank account online?"

I proudly said, "Once a month when I balance my checkbook." Personally, I thought this was a perfect amount of time because I knew lots of people who checked their accounts about every three months.

Tony looked horrified, so I asked him, "How often do you check your bank account?"

He told me, "Every day."

And it was my turn to look horrified. I thought to myself, "Well, that seems a little obsessive and paranoid." I started wondering to myself if this was going to be what online dating coaches call a "red flag."

After a few more dates with Tony, I learned that accounting came easily for him and that checking all of his accounts daily was relaxing to him (that's definitely not the way I feel about my accounts). I realized that this trait of Tony's could be beneficial for me. My identity would never be stolen. No bank error would go unnoticed for more than a few hours. No unauthorized charges would be made without his knowledge.

After having quite a few conversations to sort out the different ways in which we thought about money, we worked out a comfortable way of handling finances that worked for both of us, each using our own strengths. Once we were married, I was very happy to relax into the pattern of him watching over our finances.

And now it's tax time, and he's not here to do them. Keep reading ...

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