What to Do When Your Spouse Dies

By: Nick Leydorf
Here is a list, in no particular order, of what needs to be done after someone passes to help you during this difficult time.

Kiplinger’s recent article entitled “A Checklist for What to Do (and NOT Do) After Someone Dies” provides some worthwhile information to help you if you are faced with a death in the family and must organize the next steps.

Contact the funeral home. You need to make arrangements and ask them for 10 additional copies of the death certificate.

Call your attorney. They can help with the process.

Contact Social Security. Your Social Security benefits may change after a spouse’s passing, so you’ll need to notify them.

Cancel their health insurance. If insurance is provided by the spouse’s former employer, you will need to contact them.

Contact the spouse’s pension company (if applicable). Depending on the pension plan option originally selected by your spouse, you may be eligible to get payments.

Contact the life insurance company and file a claim. This is a very easy process. Do this right away to receive the proceeds of the policy.

If your spouse one was a veteran, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs. Check with the VA to see if there are any benefits payable to you.

Notify all your financial institutions. Contact banks to change account names; credit cards to remove spouse or close accounts; mortgage companies, insurance companies and all other important bills to change them to the surviving spouse’s name only.

Contact your CPA. You will need to discuss taxes for this year.

Contact your financial adviser. You will need to change account titles, file beneficiary paperwork for IRAs, 401k(s) and other retirement accounts.

Retitle assets. Assets like real estate or cars in the spouse’s name should be retitled.

Prepare and probate the estate. If the estate doesn’t qualify for simplified procedures, then the assets must go through probate. Ask an attorney to help you.

Reference: Kiplinger (Aug. 24, 2022) “A Checklist for What to Do (and NOT Do) After Someone Dies”

Suggested Key Terms: Elder Law Attorney, Social Security, Estate Planning, Probate Court, Veterans’ Benefits, Burial

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