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Financial To-Dos If Your Spouse Dies

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Call your attorney

There are several legal and financial considerations once a loved one has passed. Work with your attorney to better understand the process and the laws within your state.

Contact the Social Security Administration.

Depending on circumstances, survivor benefits could be payable to you. This is not something you can do online. To report a death or apply for benefits, call 800-772-1213, or visit your local Social Security office.

Locate the will.

Generally, it’s filed with an attorney, or in a lockbox or safe deposit box. Contact the attorney for a reading and to settle the estate.

Notify your spouse’s employer.

Find out about benefits due to beneficiaries. Check on retirement or pension plans. If you or your children were covered through your spouse’s medical insurance, ask about continuing coverage. Notify your employer, too, since the death of a spouse may be a “life event” that could trigger benefit decisions.

Ask your spouse’s former employers.

Items to check on: life insurance policies, a pension, an old 401(k), or other benefits.

Check with the Veteran’s Administration.

If your spouse served in the military, learn what benefits might be due to you.

Notify all insurance companies, including life and health.

Ask them to send claim forms and instructions (or online links.) It can take weeks to receive funds, so try to get started as soon as possible.

Change all property titles.

Remove your spouse’s name and update insurance policies, such as auto and homeowner’s.

Change titles on all jointly held bank, investment, and credit accounts.

Close accounts that were in your spouse’s name only or change the account holder information.

Send a letter to all three major credit bureaus.

Get a copy of your spouse’s credit reports so you are aware of all debts. (The three major credit bureaus are EquifaxExperian, and TransUnion.) Ask to have a notification in the credit report that says “Deceased—do not issue credit,” so new credit is not taken out in their name.


Notify your accountant/tax preparer.

Taxes for your spouse should be filed for the year of death, and any taxes should be paid.

Since there could be complicated issues, it may be best to have a tax professional help you.

Call the financial aid office if you have a child in college.

Depending on the school and your financial situation, your child may qualify for more assistance.

Work with a financial professional.

A financial professional can help you update your financial plan based on benefits you have received, create a budget for your new income and expenses, revisit your retirement plan, and weigh any decisions about cashing out investments.

Gigi Verrey

Gigi Verrey

Vice President, Wealth Management

My mission is to understand you & your priorities. To take the time, to ask hard, smart questions and to listen carefully, then to understand, in great detail, exactly where your wealth stands today, and where you’d like it to be tomorrow. We create a recipe, gather ingredients and monitor success.