Losing a spouse is one of the most difficult times in a person’s life. When you’ve lost your loved one, you’re flooded with emotions that can make tasks like managing financial obligations seem almost impossible. Admittedly, this is a tough topic to discuss but an equally important one. The last thing anyone wants to think about is their spouse passing away but when you’re faced with handling the responsibility of managing those obligations, at the time of their passing, you deserve to have financial security. Additionally, your spouse wouldn’t want you to have the burden of unpreparedness weighing heavily on your shoulders.
After you’ve contacted your family and friends there are many factors that need be taken into consideration, here are the top five things you should do first if your loved one passes away.
1. Gather Documents: Everything should be organized and together, whether you’ve had it prepared and placed in a binder or filed away in the cabinet, make sure you have the following; Trust and/or Will, life insurance policy, birth, marriage and death certificates, funeral arrangements or instructions, Social Security cards (yours too), tax returns, investment statements, mortgages, leases, deeds, motor vehicle titles, health insurance and if applicable, military service records.
2. Contact Your Director: If funeral arrangements were not made now is the time to do so. Get in touch with a funeral director and make preparations for the services.
3. Call Your Agent: If your spouse had a life insurance policy, annuities or any other investments, contact them. This will ensure that you have funding for the funeral expenses and your advisor can guide you through the next steps.
4. Get Copies: You’re going to want to have at least 10 copies of your spouse’s death certificate. Most organizations will require an original death certificate and not a copy. Requesting at least 10 copies will save you the time and hassle of waiting for more. Your funeral director can help you get copies or you can contact the County Clerk’s office yourself.
5. Send Letters: You want to ensure that you are aware of all existing debts if there are any. You need to send letters to each of the three major credit bureaus to get copies of your spouse’s credit reports. The companies are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Knowing what to do, when to do it and having a checklist could make this difficult time just a little less so for you and your family. No matter how much you prepare, you can never be emotionally ready when a loved one passes. But if you prepare now you can put the book on the shelf and know that when time has come, your tasks won’t feel like an ocean wave crashing on a rowboat.
As always, no matter what your needs are we are here for you every step of the way. If you feel that the time is right to get your Trust in order or have a full checklist prepared, give me a call and we’ll guide you through this journey.