The death of a spouse is emotionally and financially devastating. Making decisions of any kind is difficult when you’re vulnerable and grieving, but having a plan to follow may help. Here are suggestions for dealing with financial tasks.
1. Wait to make major decisions. Put off selling your house, moving in with your grown children, giving everything away, liquidating your investments, or buying new financial products.
2. Get expert help. Ask your attorney to interpret and explain the will and/or applicable law and implement the estate settlement. Talk to your accountant about financial moves and necessary tax documents. Call on your insurance company to help with filing and collecting death benefits.
3. Assemble paperwork. Documents you’ll need include your spouse’s birth certificate, social security card, insurance policies, loan and lease agreements, investment statements, mortgages and deeds, retirement plan information, credit cards and credit card statements, employment and partnership agreements, divorce agreements, funeral directives, safe deposit box information, tax returns, and the death certificate.
4. Determine who must be paid, and when. You’ll need to notify creditors and continue paying mortgages, car loans, credit cards, utilities, and insurance premiums. Notify health insurance companies and the Social Security Administration, and cancel your spouse’s memberships and subscriptions.
5. Alert credit reporting agencies. Request the addition of a “deceased notice” and a “do not issue credit” statement to the decedent’s file. Order credit reports, which will provide a complete record of your spouse’s open credit cards.
6. Determine what payments are due to you, such as insurance proceeds, social security or veteran’s benefits, and pension payouts. File claims where needed.