How to organize your finances after your spouse’s death

How to organize your finances after your spouse's death

Losing a spouse or partner is a very sad and stressful event in anybody’s life. Moreover, this difficult time also requires us to complete a series of rituals and activities as well as make financially important decisions including last rites, notifying various corporate/ business/ government institutions, property settlements as well arrange for your own financial security. A brief guide towards more effective and easy financial planning is as follows:

Step 1: Notify Others:

Dealing with the death of spouse and handling money matters simultaneously is undoubtedly a terribly overwhelming process. Your first step would be to notify people who can help, has to be notified or can provide advice. These include close friends and family who can come and help and be with you during this hard time, your spouse/partner’s employer and other associates who needs to be informed, and lastly notify your legal advisor, insurance personnel, financial advisor, accountant and all such people who can advise you regarding financial and legal decisions during this time.

Step 2: Organize and keep finances updated

Firstly, complete all the necessary documentation for your spouse/partner’s death. This includes getting death certificate from family doctor, hospital, etc and then from the cemetery/funeral home which it files with the state.

Secondly, obtain all financial and legal documents of properties such as wills, deeds, trusts, birth, adoption or marriage certificates, etc.

Thirdly, though it might seem very difficult under the circumstances but make sure you are updated on the status of all bills etc including home loan EMIs, insurance payments, electricity etc and keep paying all these bills on time.

Step 3: Property Settlement

If you have been named in your spouse/partner’s will as the executor, contact your lawyer and settle all your partner’s property affairs. In case you are not the executor, contact the person who is and help him/her as much as you can to get all financial affairs in place.

A handy check-list:

Here goes a brief run-down of all the financial tasks that you need to focus on so that it makes your life easier during this tough phase:

  • Report death to medical practitioner and state and obtain death certificates, etc that would be required to settle all financial matters
  • Contact insurance companies to file claims. These can include individual, family, corporate, mortgage, accidental death, credit card and other insurances.
  • Retrieve spouse/partner’s belongings from his/her workplace. Collect due salary, paid leave or sick pay owed to him/her and enquire about health insurance coverage or survivor’s benefits if any
  • Contact ex-employees regarding pension plan details if applicable and review the status
  • Contact all credit card companies and banks and inform about the death. Cancel all cards unless you hold a joint card that you wish to retain
  • Retitle assets held jointly such as bank accounts, stocks and bonds, home and car.
  • Review your existing budget and reevaluate your short-term and long-term financial goals and plans, investment options and insurance needs.