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Commonly Missed Steps to Follow When a Spouse Die

The passing of a loved one brings emotional and practical challenges, and being prepared to navigate these complexities is crucial for ensuring your financial stability and honoring your spouse's legacy. Unfortunately, during the grieving process, a surviving spouse must navigate the complex financial issues that arise after the death of their spouse. Here's a checklist for surviving spouses from Forbes’ recent article, “What To Do After The Death Of A Spouse.”

There's plenty to do after the passing of a spouse. However, only some things need to get done right away. Here are some immediate non-financial considerations:

  1. Obtaining multiple copies of the death certificate
  2. Asking a friend/relative to watch the house during the funeral or memorial service because robberies and vandalism can happen
  3. Arrange to have any pets taken care of in-home or boarded; and
  4. If you plan to visit family away from home, have the mail forwarded to that address or the executor if it isn't you.

There are other things to avoid doing. Here are  common mistakes made by new widows (er)s:

  1. Failing to adjust or remove a spouse’s social security number from accounts
  2. Missing tax and other important deadlines
  3. Failing to confirm if required minimum distributions (RMDs) from retirement accounts were taken before death; and
  4. Transferring assets before authorization from the estate plan.

You should also organize your financial situation. Collect financial documents and statements, including bank statements, investment account statements (brokerage and/or trust accounts), retirement account statements and beneficiary designations, life insurance policies, pension details and outstanding debts or liabilities, including any mortgage or loan balances, credit card balances and unpaid bills.

The time following the loss of a spouse requires careful consideration of estate planning and financial steps to ensure your own well-being and honor your partner's memory. At Vick Law, P.C., we understand the unique challenges that arise after a spouse dies and are here to provide compassionate guidance. Our experienced team is dedicated to assisting you in understanding your current situation or by crafting a comprehensive estate plan that reflects your individual needs and objectives. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn how these strategic actions, combined with our experience in estate planning and elder law, can help you navigate this difficult journey with confidence. 

Reference: Forbes (April 20, 2023) “What To Do After The Death Of A Spouse”

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