What to Do When Your Spouse Passes Away

Filed under: Financial tips

Senior couple relaxing at the seasideWhen we say “til death do us part”, most of us aren’t really thinking about the marriage ending that way. We’re looking forward to decades of happiness together. But of course, the unfortunate reality is that very few married couples pass away at the same time. In all likelihood, one of you will survive the other. And in the weeks and months after their passing, grief can make it difficult to remember all of the necessary little details that come along with a death. So we’ve compiled this list for widows and widowers, to help out during a difficult time and prevent more unnecessary paperwork headaches.

Ask for help. You don’t have to do this alone. Ask a friend or family member to help with the items on this list.

Gather documents. Hopefully, you already have your legal and financial life fairly well organized. If not, gather documents pertaining to your marriage and finances, such as life insurance policies, your Wills, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, Social Security cards, retirement plan statements, bank statements, deeds to all property owned, and so on. Request about 12 copies of the death certificate from your funeral director or county clerk’s office. You will need these later.

Keep up with the bills. If you were the one responsible for the bills, you won’t need to change anything here. If your spouse handled that aspect of your life together, you will need to become familiar with the process quickly. Remember items like the electric company, credit cards, the mortgage lender, gas, phone, cable, and internet companies, and so on.

Contact your spouse’s employer or former employer. There may be paperwork to be completed, and you might be due a payout due to unused sick or vacation leave.

Arrange for someone to be at your home during the funeral. Thieves occasionally read obituaries in the newspaper, and target homes that they know will be empty due to a funeral.

Contact your life insurance company. It can take a few weeks to receive your payout, so get this out of the way early on.

Call Social Security. Ask about spousal and survivor’s benefits.

Call the Veteran’s Administration, if your spouse was a veteran. You might be due special benefits.

Change your beneficiary designations. If your spouse is your beneficiary for life insurance policies or other assets, you will need to select a new beneficiary right away.

Contact creditors. Remove your spouse’s name from joint accounts, and close any accounts in their name.

File taxes correctly. You will still need to file one more tax return for the year in which your spouse passed away.

Contact your estate planning attorney or business attorney. Your attorney can help you through various legal circumstances, and a business attorney can help with succession if your spouse was a business owner.

Contact us. A death impacts both your personal and financial life. Avoid hasty decisions with regard to your finances, and seek help from an expert instead. We can help you decide what to do about life insurance payouts, retirement account funds, and any other issues related to your retirement.


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This information has been provided by a licensed insurance professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting the insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax, trust and estate, or investment advice. Infinite Wealth Advisors is not an investment advisory firm.  Investment Advisory Services provided by NAMCOA® – Naples Asset Management Company®, LLC, a federally registered investment advisor, website: www.NAMCOA.com .