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How to Prepare for the Unexpected Loss of a Spouse

The Huffington Post notes in a recent article, “The Business of Surviving a Spouse,” that when a spouse dies suddenly at a fairly young age, it’s hard to understand that the business of life moves on whether or not you’re ready.

While some decisions may be put off because they’re too personal, there are decisions that need to be made that are simple and straightforward. These are usually issues that concern getting the affairs of the deceased in order. It may seem daunting and overwhelming, but the right guidance and preparation can be a big help.

Consult with an estate planning attorney to help you submit claims for benefits due as the surviving spouse and assess your spouse’s debts and assets. However, in order to do this, you need to collect the following documents:

  1. At least 10 original death certificates (from the funeral home or the Vital Statistics office where the death occurred);

  2. Estate planning documents, such as the will and trusts;

  3. Insurance policies;

  4. The most recent credit card and mortgage statements;

  5. Investment account statements;

  6. The past three years of tax returns;

  7. Marriage, birth, and (if applicable) divorce certificates of the spouse and children of the deceased;

  8. Checking and savings account statements;

  9. Any other loan documents;

  10. Car registrations; and

  11. Social Security information.

With these documents and information at the ready, notify these institutions of the death to close out accounts and submit claims:

  1. The spouse’s employer;

  2. Social Security;

  3. Veterans Affairs (if applicable);

  4. S. Postal Service;

  5. The Department of Motor Vehicles;

  6. Insurance companies;

  7. Credit bureaus;

  8. Financial institutions;

  9. Service providers; and

  10. Any charities that automatically withdraw a donation from a checking account.

Deal with the black-and-white matters first, which will encourage you to address more difficult decisions.

Reference: Huffington Post (April 2, 2016) “The Business of Surviving a Spouse”

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