THE BLOG
08/05/2014 10:18 am ET Updated Oct 05, 2014

Life Event -- Death of a Spouse

Dealing with the loss of a spouse is very difficult time for you and your family.

You will be coping with lots of emotions and handling many complex financial decisions as well. You may have had a spouse that handled all the family finances in the past. If so, this may be a significant learning curve for you.

Life events generally come with tons of questions and often sudden wealth. The death of a spouse will be no different.

First things first
  • Contact your attorney for review of your spouse's will and to start the estate settlement process
  • Obtain copies of the death certificate to supply to your various accounts
  • Gather important documents like marriage license, life insurance policies and birth certificate
  • It may be difficult, but locate your spouse's user names and passwords for various accounts
  • Get an updated social security statement
  • Get in touch with your insurance agent if there was life insurance on your spouse
  • Get in touch with your spouse's employer for filing for benefits
  • You'll need to retitle assets held jointly, that's why you'll need the death certificates

Time for planning
As always financial planning will be vital. If there is chaos in your life, financial planning can give you some clarity. You'll want to know what your income will look like after your spouse's death. It could change dramatically. Pull together all your life insurance proceeds to include in your planning. Important decisions will need to be made regarding investments and retirement accounts your spouse may have owned.

Time for Planning
Take some time to think over your current situation. It may not necessarily be the best time to make big decisions regarding your future. Here are some things to consider:

Can I provide for my children?
Have my goals changed?
How will my retirement goals change?
Do I need to update my beneficiaries on all my accounts?
What will the taxes be?
Will I have to go through probate?
How will I file my taxes?

Find an excellent and skilled financial adviser to help you through this difficult time. An advisor can get you answers to all of these questions, as well as realign your financial plan for the future.

If you liked this article in my Life Events series, subscribe here for free! I'll have my virtual paperboy toss one in your inbox every Friday.

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