13 Things to Do If You Lose Your Spouse


13 Things to Do If You Lose Your Spouse

Posted by RDW Financial Group
3 years ago | May 3, 2017

“Til Death do us part”.  For the most part we look upon these words as a romantic affirmation of our love for one another. Unfortunately, they do subtly point out an inevitable truth that we must all face: At some point, one of you will pass away before the other. Hopefully this comes only after a long and happy marriage, but when that day does arrive, legal and financial matters can complicate your grieving process. This checklist can help you through that difficult time, and as always, remember that you can call us with any questions about your financial affairs.

Ask for help. You don’t have to do this alone. The very first thing you should do is ask a family member or trusted friend to help you with the items on this list.

Line up a sitter. Unfortunately, there are crooks out there who watch the obituary section of the newspaper, and rob houses during the funeral. You don’t need any more problems right now, so ask a neighbor or acquaintance to house sit.

Get organized. In the coming months, you will be asked to produce your spouse’s death certificate numerous times. Go ahead and ask your funeral director or the county clerk’s office for about a dozen copies. Gather other important documents, such as Social Security cards, birth certificates, life insurance policies, financial account statements, deeds to all property, and so on. Keep these in a central location so that you never have to scramble to locate them.

Call your attorney. He or she needs to be notified immediately, so you can receive legal guidance through various personal and business matters.

Notify your life insurance company. It might take a few weeks to receive the death benefit payout, so get started early.

Contact your spouse’s employer. If your spouse worked, or worked in the past, there might be some forms you need to complete, relating to their retirement account or pension.

Call your local Social Security office. Ask about spousal or survivor’s benefits.

If your spouse was a veteran, call the Veteran’s Administration. You might be due certain benefits.

Stay on top of the bills. It’s easy to become stressed and forget everyday things during a time like this. Set a reminder, whether in writing or using a smart phone app, to pay bills on time and avoid late fees or disconnected utilities. If your spouse handled the bills, ask a money-savvy friend or relative to help you learn an accounting system.

Change your beneficiary designations. Most likely, you once named your spouse as your beneficiary on life insurance or retirement account forms. You should designate a new heir now.

Contact all creditors. All accounts solely in your spouse’s name should be closed now, and their name should be removed from any joint accounts you held together. This step is sometimes harder than it sounds, but it can protect you from opportunistic criminal activity.

Remember to file your spouse’s taxes. Whether you file jointly or separately, your spouse’s taxes will need to be filed one more time during the spring following their death.

Call us for help. This is a time of big changes for you, both personally and financially. We can help you with decisions regarding Social Security benefits, retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and so on. Seeking professional guidance can prevent hasty decisions and mistakes.


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