The death of your spouse is a period of unimaginable grief, but unfortunately, there are many legal and financial obligations which won't wait. Tackling a to-do list at this time is probably the last thing you want to do, so it is a good idea if you can seek out the help and advice of a trusted family member, friend, or advisor to sort things out and provide you with emotional guidance. Use the following checklist as a guide for the most important tasks you need to complete.
Steps to Take After Your Husband Dies
Don't make any life-changing decisions. Now is not the time to make any significant, financial decisions. While it is entirely reasonable to want to sell a home or other property which reminds you of your spouse, wait. Also, avoid making any additional investments or large purchases, especially if you were not actively involved in your family's finances before the death. Give yourself all the time you need to mourn first.
Request certified copies of the death certificate. You will need certified copies of your spouse's death certificate to prove the passing of your spouse and to claim benefits or to switch over accounts into your name. Ask the funeral home for at least a dozen or more copies. You may also need certified marriage certificates to prove you were married to the deceased.
Speak with your spouse's employer. If your spouse was working at the time of his death, make a point to contact the employer to see if there are any benefits which you are entitled to have including a 401(k) or employer-based insurance policy. If you and your dependents' medical insurance was covered by your spouse's job, make sure you know how long the coverage will last to give yourself time to make other arrangements.
Call your spouse's insurance company and file a claim. Make an initial call to the insurance company so you can determine what they will require. Once you have gathered the necessary information contact them again to process the benefits you are entitled to.
Probate your spouse's estate. If your spouse had a will, have the executer carry out the final wishes of your spouse. In the event that your spouse died without a will, things can get more complicated. Most people can benefit from asking for professional legal and financial advice in this situation.
Gather the financial records. Start collecting all of the financial records, including banking records, bills, credit card statements, tax returns, insurance policies, any outstanding mortgages or loans, and retirement accounts. If your spouse did not have an organized bookkeeping system, this might take some time. You may need to call companies directly and provide proof of your spouse's passing before being able to gain access into the accounts.
Switch over accounts and cancel credit cards. If your spouse was the sole name on an account such as a utility, subscription service, such as a mobile phone, make sure to change the name if you want to keep the service or terminate it. Call your spouse's credit card company and get a final bill before canceling the cards.
Contact government offices. Have your spouse's social security number handy and call the Social Security Administration office to find out what you need to do to receive survivor benefits. Doing this as soon as possible can help prevent long delays before you get your next Social Security payment and you may even qualify for a one-time death benefit of $255. If your spouse served in the armed forces, you might be eligible for additional benefits from the Veterans' Administration, so contact your local branch office.
Switch emergency contact information. Change any of your or your family members' emergency contact information that had your spouse's name or number listed to someone else's.
In my experience, this is an overwhelming time because of the many things to navigate. I offer a complimentary meeting to help make sure you have the necessary things in order and determine if you need other professionals to assist you.
You may call me at 205.438.7573 or schedule a time to talk by clicking here.
This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information, and provided by Booth Financial Planning, LLC. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information, and is not a solicitation for the purchase of anything.