The loss of a spouse is challenging emotionally and financially. Death is an uncomfortable subject and few of us have prepared sufficiently to deal with the aftermath. However, if you find yourself in this situation, there are steps you can take to minimize the negative financial aspects.
Consider these steps after the loss of a spouse:
1. Acquire multiple copies of the death certificate
It’s necessary to send a copy to the Social Security Administration, credit card companies, insurance companies, and many other financial institutions. The death certificate is necessary to verify your spouse’s death.
· A death certificate is also necessary to change or remove names from accounts. This can also include changing beneficiaries.
· Fifteen copies should be sufficient.
2. Contact the necessary professionals first
Ideally, you’ll speak with a tax accountant and an estate-planning attorney before taking any significant action. They can give you a clear understanding of what is required for your situation, and they’ll also help with any future financial needs that may come up. Before receiving an insurance payout or taking any other major financial step, speak with an HKMP expert.
· Remember that it is important to always do your own research and consult a professional before trusting others’ advice even though well-meaning friends and family want to help, you need to verify the information being received. Unless you know someone that works in an applicable field, their advice may not be your best course of action.
3. Update your will
If your spouse was the primary beneficiary of your will you will need to update the documents to reflect your name. In many states, your will becomes invalid when your spouse dies. This means the state will determine how your assets are distributed until a new will is created, showing a sense of urgency to have a new will created or you listed as the beneficiary.
4. Contact the social security administration
You may be eligible for death and/or a survivor’s benefit. This can be a significant help with unplanned expenses.
5. Ensure that you’re paying your bills on time
When you’re going through a difficult time, it can be hard to focus on the little things like day-to-day tasks. Remember to take care of yourself and not allow the small things to slip through the cracks that could add more stress for the future such as bill pay. The additional stress of late fees and phone calls from creditors is the last thing you want or need.
6. Collect all insurance policies and contact the companies
This includes life insurance, automobile insurance, any insurance provided by your spouse’s employer, mortgage insurance, and any other insurance.
In some cases, you’ll receive a benefit. In others, you may receive a refund when you cancel a policy that has become unnecessary. There are instances where you may keep a policy but wish to change the beneficiaries and we recommend you consult a professional to talk through those options.
7. Contact the Department of Veterans Affairs if your spouse was in the military
You may be eligible for funds to cover the cost of funeral expenses. It’s also possible that you may qualify to receive monthly payments if your spouse was receiving disability benefits from their job prior to their death.
These are just a few of the necessary steps to secure your finances if your spouse passes away. It’s very important to work with experienced financial experts on the above throughout life and especially if there is an unfortunate passing of your spouse to make sure everything is accurate.
Most importantly, we always recommend that you speak with your spouse before this circumstance occurs and have a plan in place for any unforeseen circumstance. Discuss how these financial issues will be handled and get your papers in order so you can be organized beforehand.
For more information about what to do after the death of a spouse, contact us.