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What to Do When You Lose Your Spouse

Losing your spouse is never easy. Here are some things to remember once you are ready to move forward:

Obtain. You should obtain multiple certified copies of the Death Certificate when it becomes available. You are going to need one for every life insurance policy, and many of the institutions holding assets will require one as well. If you need additional copies, your funeral home will often assist you in obtaining them.

Notify. Notify Social Security so that you can determine what benefits may be available to you, including the $250 benefit for burial expenses, and whether you are entitled to a portion of your spouse’s monthly Social Security Income.

Apply. As soon as possible, you should apply for life insurance benefits, rollover IRA’s, final retirement benefits and/or final paychecks.

Terminate. In order to avoid future problems, terminate joint tenancies on real property, as well as any jointly held bank accounts.

Probate. A probate of his/her estate may be necessary. Contact an experienced probate attorney to discuss this process and your specific options.

Budget. Review your sources of income to determine your new monthly income. Re-work your budget to fit your needs and new income.

Review. Now is the time for a thorough review of your estate planning, whether it be a living trust or will. You have likely lost your primary beneficiary and new decisions will need to be made for your powers of attorney, both financial and medical, as well as for your disposition of your estate upon your death.

Delay. Keep in mind losing a spouse can be devastating. Delaying any major decisions such as selling your home and moving during the first year allows you time to grieve and adjust.

Consult. While friends can be helpful and certainly mean to be, it would be quite beneficial for you to consult an estate planning attorney for assistance with any and all of these items.