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Losing a spouse can be overwhelming in many ways, and it can be difficult to know what steps you need to take financially when you find yourself a widow or widower. Here are five actions that can help you get back on your financial feet after the death of a spouse:
File Beneficiary Claim Forms
If your spouse had life insurance or retirement accounts such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s, Traditional IRAs or Roth IRAs, contact your agent or advisor (or the insurance company or financial institution) to start the process of filing a claim for benefits. If you were named as the beneficiary, the process generally involves filing company-specific paperwork and provide a death certificate for your spouse.
You may be entitled to a one-time survivor’s benefit from the Social Security Administration. In addition, if you are already drawing Social Security retirement benefits, your benefits amount may go up. Similarly, you may also want to look into military benefits and pension plan survivor’s benefits.
Contact Financial Providers
You’ll also need to contact your spouse’s creditors and financial account holders – including accounts you held jointly with your spouse – to let them know of his or her passing. If your spouse primarily handled the finances, start by looking at your checkbook or most recent bank account statements to identify where payments were being sent so you know who to contact.
Retitle Joint Assets
If you owned real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, investments or other assets jointly with your spouse, you should update those records to reflect your spouse’s death. An estate planning attorney can help you with these steps, as necessary.
Cancel Ongoing Obligations as Appropriate
Your spouse may have had ongoing, regular obligations that will need to be canceled, such as a gym membership, a cell phone, subscriptions to periodicals, etc. Contact customer service for such memberships or prescriptions to initiate the cancellation process.
At The Estate Planning & Legacy Law Center, PLC, we will build an effective and strong estate plan for you and your family to fit your unique needs. Our services alleviate wealth concerns and help you to enjoy life and focus on what really matters, your family. Contact us today to get started!