What Are My Next Steps Following the Death of My Spouse?

The loss of a spouse can weigh heavily on the survivor. In the midst of coping with the loss of their loved one, they may find themselves having to make important legal and financial decisions. In some cases, their spouse may have been the primary decision-maker in these matters and the surviving spouse may be overwhelmed and inexperienced when dealing with these matters on their own.

According to Wealth Management, there are several decisions that surviving spouses should prioritize over the ones that can be approached at a later date. Following the death of their loved one, a spouse should gather important documents, including:

  • 15 to 20 copies of the death certificate
  • Copies of all insurance policies (home, health, life, mortgage, auto, etc.)
  • Social Security numbers of the deceased and dependent children
  • Spouse’s Last Will and Testament and Trust and a list of all his or her assets and debts
  • Titles of any vehicles or property owned by the deceased, in case the information needs to be updated
  • Military discharge papers

The spouse should notify his or her spouse’s employers, financial advisors, insurance company and investors of the loss. The spouse’s employer may be able to provide information regarding what coverages his or her spouse had and answer questions about what the coverage entails. All joint accounts will need to be updated to the surviving spouse’s name and he or she will need to update the beneficiaries on all insurance and retirement plans.

If their spouse served in the armed forces, he or she may be entitled to burial and memorial benefits that may cover a plot in a private cemetery and may be eligible for a headstone or marker. To apply for these benefits, the spouse may contact their funeral director or the regional Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) office.

At Tully Law, PC, we understand the loss of a spouse is a life-altering event that can be both emotionally compromising and overwhelming. Our attorneys are available to advise you on your next legal and financial steps. We will take the time to review the Will and Trust of your spouse to ensure your loved one’s wishes are carried out or, if there is no Will, we will discuss how the Administration process will work if necessary. For more information regarding our services or to schedule a consultation, call (631) 424-2800.