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OHCE District Leader Lesson Suddenly Single Prepared by: Jan Johnston, Ph.D. (Gerontology Specialist) Sissy R. Osteen, Ph.D. (Resource Management Specialist)

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Presentation on theme: "OHCE District Leader Lesson Suddenly Single Prepared by: Jan Johnston, Ph.D. (Gerontology Specialist) Sissy R. Osteen, Ph.D. (Resource Management Specialist)"— Presentation transcript:

1 OHCE District Leader Lesson Suddenly Single Prepared by: Jan Johnston, Ph.D. (Gerontology Specialist) Sissy R. Osteen, Ph.D. (Resource Management Specialist) Eileen St. Pierre, Ph.D. (Personal Finance Specialist) Lesson presented: March 2012

2 Lesson Format Identify transitional issues and offer suggested strategies and resources for successful navigation. Each transitional issue is discussed using the following format: Personal story describing the issue The myth regarding this issue The myth buster or facts about this issue Suggestions for a new way to live Resources for more information Group leaders can cover all issues or just focus on certain issues given time constraints and the life experiences of the group.

3 Widowhood Ellen lost her husband 3 months ago due to a long illness. Her friends have encouraged her to move on, as they say this will help her get over his death. Ellen finds it hard to accept invitations and worries she will lose her friends. She finds it is hard to get over this loss, even though she knows that her friends want her to be more like her normal self.

4 Widowhood Myth: Widowhood can be overcome.

5 Widowhood Myth Buster: Widowhood is not an illness that one can ‘get over’. Rather it is something that has happened in Ellen’s life and from which she doesn’t ‘recover’. With time and support, Ellen can learn to live with loss, finding ways to cope and integrate this loss into her new life. There is no expectation that things will return to ‘normal’.

6 Divorce Susan’s divorce from her husband became final 2 months ago. Although she’s known for a while that she needed to make this change, Susan has been surprised that her concentration and energy levels have been less than before. Her friends encourage her to get out more often, but Susan has resisted.

7 Divorce Myth: Divorce proceedings started by you do not affect you.

8 Divorce Myth Buster: The breakup of a marriage – no matter who starts it - can cause similar responses to that of the death of a spouse. In many ways, losing a life partner – through death or divorce – still signals a loss in our everyday lives. While we might expect feelings of shock when a spouse announces THEY want a divorce, it is important to recognize that there are expected stages of grief even if we initiate proceedings. The grieving process is different for all of us, making it even more important to recognize the affects of divorce.

9 Dealing with Grief Myra had been married for 43 years when her husband suddenly passed away last spring. Her 3 adult children – who all live out of state – came for the funeral and have been emailing and calling her frequently. She has been surprised by her strong emotions ranging from anger to sadness during this time. She often avoids answering the phone and emails. Her children say they are only trying to help.

10 Dealing with Grief Myth: Active family interaction is most important when dealing with grief.

11 Dealing with Grief Myth Buster: Our emotional and behavioral responses to grief can be changing and conflicting. One day we feel sad, the next we feel guilt. Feeling lonely as well as feeling relief can be confusing. Ranges of emotion are common in grief. Often, families aren’t considered the best audience to share deep emotional feelings. Rather, trusted objective individuals in the community – including pastors, social workers, and counselors - are some of the best sources of support at this time.

12 Accepting Single Status Connie’s next-door neighbor Ruth has been by her side through thick and thin. They grew up together on adjoining farms. When Connie’s husband died 4 years ago, Ruth was there to help Connie regain the desire to get out and do things again. For the past few months, Ruth and some ladies from Church have been pushing for Connie to get more involved with a family friend. Connie is beginning to think she is only acceptable to her friends if she is not single.

13 Accepting Single Status Myth: Accepting my single status is just giving up on myself.

14 Accepting Single Status Myth Buster: Accepting yourself after the death of a spouse – and your status as a single person – does not mean you are destined to forever be alone in the world. It could mean you have overcome the fears or anxieties about being single and are actively seeking ways to explore this new area of life. Often the pressure to ‘be a couple’ is rooted in the messages of others.

15 Debts of Deceased Spouse Velma’s husband Bob died suddenly and had no will. During the years they were married she and Bob had established separate credit accounts because he had encouraged her financial independence. In the few weeks since his death, she has been receiving phone calls from Hefty Bank on a credit card debt that was on an account that was in Bob’s name only. Hefty Bank says that Velma is responsible for the debt. She believes in paying her debts but does not know what to do.

16 Debts of Deceased Spouse Myth: The surviving spouse can be held accountable for the debt of the deceased spouse even if it is not his or her account.

17 Debts of Deceased Spouse Facts: The deceased person’s estate owes the debt. State laws govern the determination of how this is handled. Velma may or not be liable for the debt. When a spouse dies and the widow is grieving, many creditors will jump in to action to try to collect on debts. It is important for the surviving spouse to know what rights they possess. It is important for Velma to contact an attorney to protect her right. The FTC has guidelines about how the debt can be collected.

18 Credit and Divorce Susan and Henry were married for 15 years. They had not been getting along well for the last 5 years so no one was surprised when they announced they were getting a divorce. They used one attorney for the divorce settlement and agreed to split all assets and debts evenly. After a year, Henry stopped making payments on a credit card account that they had held together while they were married. Now the creditor is calling Susan to collect the debt. Susan informed them that her husband was liable for the debt because he received it in the divorce.

19 Credit and Divorce Myth: The spouse who was ordered to pay the debt in the divorce decree is solely responsible for the debt.

20 Credit and Divorce Facts: The contract that Henry and Susan had with the credit card company actually trumps the divorce decree. This means that an account held jointly is the responsibility of both account holders, no matter what a state- issued divorce decree says. Additionally, failure to pay or lateness in paying this debt will show up on Susan’s credit report.

21 Estate Planning Barbara has been a widow for over 10 years. Her husband died without a will and his affairs did not seem too complicated to sort out. To be honest, Barbara doesn’t want to think about making her “final” plans and has no idea what she would say to a lawyer anyway. She has two married children and 5 grandchildren, all now live in Texas. She doesn’t want to burden them with all this.

22 Estate Planning Myth: Estate planning is way too complicated for most people. Everyone will be able to sort things out after I’m gone.

23 Estate Planning Myth Buster: For most people, estate planning is not that complicated but it does require careful thought. It’s important for your loved ones to know your final wishes. It will ease their burden and allow them to focus on the happy moments they spent with you, rather than legal proceedings. In Barbara’s case, she may want to leave some special property or a small legacy to her grandchildren, which a lawyer can help her set up.

24 Updating Financial Records Julie has just gone through a tough divorce but is anxious to start her new life. But she is not looking forward to managing her own finances – her ex- husband had always managed the money in the family. She has some credit cards in both her and her ex-husband’s name. She also has a list of her assets from the divorce settlement, but has no idea what she needs to do with them. She figured the credit card company and financial institutions have already been told about her divorce and would make the necessary changes to her account.

25 Updating Financial Records Myth: Financial institutions and the credit card companies will be told of my divorce, so they will take care of making the necessary changes to those accounts.

26 Updating Financial Records Myth Buster: Whenever you go through a change in your life, it is important to update your financial records. It will not be done for you. In Julie’s case, she needs to establish her own credit record. If she keeps the joint credit card with her ex-husband, she will be liable for his debts. Julie needs to go through her list of assets and make sure they are in her name only. She needs to update the beneficiaries on those accounts or her money may end up going to her ex-husband.

27 Lesson Evaluation A sample evaluation form is included in this lesson.

28 Resources Federal Trade Commission (1998). Credit and Divorce. Available at Federal Trade Commission (2011). Paying the Debts of a Deceased Relative: Who is Responsible? Available at Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service (2012). Dealing with Loss and Grief. Available at St. Pierre, E. (2010). Wills and Trusts. Stillwater, Oklahoma: Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet T-4155. Available at St. Pierre, E. (2010). Getting Your Records in Order: Organizing Household Records. Stillwater, Oklahoma: Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet T-4150. Available at

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