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June 13, 2018
Unbiased Financial Information Provided by Financial Finesse
This is a difficult topic to address. If your spouse dies, the trauma of the loss may make it very difficult to focus on your immediate financial affairs. Unfortunately, there are decisions that have to be made regarding the disposition of assets and the settlement of your spouse's estate. The following is a brief but important list of steps that can guide you as you begin to prepare for life without your spouse.
Collect necessary paperwork/documentation
After you have gathered the above paperwork, you should contact any company or agency that may owe you benefits.
The following are some of the most common types of benefits available and what you need to know to collect your benefits.
Contact any insurer that your spouse had a policy with. Life insurance is the most obvious (an individual policy and/or employer policy), but you may also have mortgage, auto, or credit card insurance.
You may be eligible for Social Security benefits if your spouse paid into Social Security. (To find out if you qualify, call your local Social Security office at 800-772-1213.)
If you are eligible, there are two types of possible benefits available:
Contact your spouse's current employer and inquire about the following items:
Also, contact prior employers as your spouse may have a vested benefit in one of their pension plans. In reference to any retirement plan or pension payout option, do not feel pressured to make any quick decisions. Seek advice from a financial planner on which payout option is in your best interest.
Change or Transfer Ownership of Assets
You will probably need to transfer ownership for assets held in your spouse's name only. You will also need to change title (to your name only) to certain assets you owned together. This may apply to things like:
Proceed with Caution
Again, the trauma of the loss may hinder your ability to make decisions. It is best not to make any immediate permanent decisions such as selling your house or changing jobs. You need to take time to consider your situation and evaluate what you want to do going forward. This is a very tough time in your life and you need to take time for yourself to get through it without making a decision you may later regret.