The Challenges of Widows and Real Estate

Did you know that it was only fifty years ago, in 1974, legal protections were finally put in place that allowed a woman to secure a mortgage without a male co-signer? That seems like an eternity ago, but this was a huge step forward for single women across the United States to be able to purchase a home on their own.

When we think of single women, most people immediately think that means someone who is unmarried; however, there is another segment of the population that these changes made a significant difference to: women who had lost their husbands. Thanks to the Fair Housing Act, gender discrimination along with the protections of Equal Opportunity Act provided that a widow no longer needed a male relative as a co-signer.

Authors, Alexandra Armstrong, and Mary Donohue are no strangers to these issues, and their book draws on their personal experiences of the effects of losing a spouse. Mary Donohue, Ph.D. was widowed in her forties with small children. Alexandra Armstrong, who was the first person to earn the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification in Washington, D.C. in 1977, experienced a different challenge when her father suddenly died, leaving her mother clueless about any financial plans to support the family. This experience propelled Armstrong to collaborate with Donohue to write a book designed to walk a widow through the stages of both her emotional and her financial next steps.

To make the book more engaging and authentic, they developed the theme to address four hypothetical women who were widowed, citing the many different challenges of a new widow in her forties, with a family, to addressing the challenges of widows that were older, and addresses their unique needs within those age groups.

In our interview, the duo shines a light on the many transitions’ widowhood imposes. Mary addresses the emotional challenges, and Alexandra speaks directly about how to manage and organize these various stages and next steps to ensure financial wellbeing.

In these segments, they create awareness of the different challenges that a widow will encounter and how to deal with them.

The book is now in its sixth printing, and the authors agree that between the changes to tax laws and the increasing number of both single women and widows from various age groups, there is an ongoing need for updating the book. Issues like internet dating, and blended family complications require updates regularly to the book.

The best outcome from this interview is the tactical options available to women: from the devastation of losing a spouse to managing the financials with confidence and less stress make this book a must-read for women who are navigating widowhood.

To order the book, “On your Own:  A Widow’s Guide to Emotional and Financial Well-Being, Sixth Edition” visit or email the authors at


NOTE: The full version of our interview has recorded some interference-Click here for more information

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