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How to Secure Your Finances After Losing Your Spouse

July 17, 2018 | By Louis Tully

One of the hardest things a person can face in life is the loss of a loved one, especially if it’s their spouse. Such a tragedy can weigh heavy on even the strongest people. It can negatively affect everything from physical health to financial stability. While signature loans might offer some relief from the financial hardships that often follow, it’s simply not enough to find stable ground again. That’s why it’s so important to make sure the surviving spouse can find financial security while honoring the deceased spouse’s wishes.

Paperwork

The first step in resolving your spouse’s financial affairs is to gather all the necessary paperwork for the following:

  • The will of the deceased – review with your attorney
  • Death certificate – required for any financial processes
  • Marriage certificate – retrieve a copy from the courthouse where you were married
  • A printed list of all properties – this may include real estate, stocks, bonds, savings accounts and personal property
  • Birth certificates for the surviving children - available at the health offices where your children were born
  • Certificate of discharge (if spouse served in the military) – you may use this to collect any military-related benefits

Getting Everything in Order

Now that you have all the necessary paperwork together, it’s time to collect any remaining financial benefits you may be entitled to. Be sure to check through the following list of benefits that could help you find stable financial footing for life without your spouse:

  • Life insurance - If your spouse took out a life insurance policy with you listed as the beneficiary, the company will pay the proceeds directly to you in either one lump sum or in monthly payments.
  • Social Security - Social security will help pay out $255 to help with funeral costs and can even issue further benefits depending on the age of the surviving spouse and if there are surviving dependents.
  • Employee benefits - If your spouse had a 401k from their employer as well as vacation and sick pay, you are entitled to those benefits. Also, you may be eligible to receive health insurance under COBRA for 18 months after your spouse’s death.
  • Veteran’s benefits - If your spouse served in the armed forces, contact the US Dept. of Veterans Affairs for further eligible benefits.
  • Other benefits - If your spouse belonged to a credit union, labor union, the American Legion or any other organization, you may be entitled to further benefits.

Taxes

Handling taxes after the death of a spouse can get pretty complicated. It’s best to consult with a professional tax advisor before moving forward with tax-related affairs.

Reevaluating Your Finances

After losing a spouse, it’s wise to reevaluate your own financial situation and make sure your own will is in order. Make any adjustments reflecting your new situation to your will, bank accounts, installment loans and credit card accounts as necessary. After reevaluating your financials, you can finally rest easy while adapting to this new life change.

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