If your spouse has recently passed away, you are likely feeling overwhelmed by your emotional loss. Finding the strength to handle practical matters can seem distressing.
However, there are some things you should probably address as soon as you can.
1. Locate important documents
The first thing you will need to do is gather up all the documentation relating to your spouse’s estate and review them to ensure you are following their final wishes, such as:
- The will
- Trust documents
- Life insurance policies
- Property deeds
- Bank statements and financial records
- Investment accounts
- Retirement plans
- Car titles
- Previous tax returns
2. Contact relevant parties
After obtaining several copies of your spouse’s death certificate, you will need to make several notifications, including:
- Social Security Administration
- Investment firms
- Insurance companies
- Credit card companies
- Credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, Experian)
3. Execute your spouse’s estate plan
If your spouse named you executor, you must settle any outstanding debts and final expenses. After those have been paid, you can distribute any assets according to their wishes. Be sure to keep a written record of all transactions.
4. Update your own estate plan
After dealing with your spouse’s estate, updating your estate plan is essential. This could involve:
- Revising your will or creating one if you and your spouse had a joint will
- Updating beneficiaries
- Changing your power(s) of attorney and estate executor, if necessary
5. Practice self-care
Grieving is a process that requires attention, and it’s crucial to care for your emotional health while managing these practical matters. Be sure to reach out to friends and family for support during this difficult time.
This can seem like a daunting task during this challenging time in your life. Working with someone familiar with the process can help ensure everything is done correctly.