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FYI: Helpful Tips on Things to Do After a Loved One Passes

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Last month's Savvy Senior Living presentation was all about going from "We to Me - Again Solo Successfully." We covered a lot of ground, including heart-felt conversations with those that have experienced a loss of a spouse or partner. The discussion entailed the emotional challenges, survival tactics, growth opportunities and resources available. And, while enduring the emotional, heartbreak the last thing anyone wants to think about is paperwork. If possible, planning ahead of time can help make these crucial steps easier.

Some helpful tips on things to do after a loved one passes.

  1. Get 5-6 copies of the death certificate from the funeral director

  2. Contact Social Security to report death and apply for lump sum death benefit and possible increase in Social Security for you.

  3. You will continue to have access to all jointly held accounts and safe-deposit boxes. There is usually no need to change those joint accounts immediately. If any accounts are in your spouse’s name individually, ask the financial institution for a form affidavit you can use to give you access or close out the account if possible. If you can’t get access by affidavit on a form furnished by the financial institution, you’ll have to wait until an estate representative is appointed and will likely need to see an attorney for that.

  4. If your spouse was a Veteran, call the VA for burial and other benefits.

  5. Make claims on all life insurance policies and other assets naming you as beneficiary. Roll over IRAs, etc., into your name.

  6. Contact current and all former employers, unions, and professional groups, notifying them of death and asking about possible death benefits, insurance, pensions etc.

  7. Contact health insurance carrier to inform them of death; try to stay on policy if you are covered and do not have other insurance.

  8. Usually there is no immediate need to transfer title of real property held as husband and wife. If there is real property or an interest in real property owned by your spouse individually, you will need to see an attorney to have an estate representative appointed. You can call me for a referral.

  9. Cancel credit cards in spouse’s name and notify the company of death. See if any credit or loan accounts had life insurance.

  10. See accountant or tax preparer in the January after your spouse passes to complete tax returns.

  11. Get help from your family, if possible. Don’t buy new financial products with money you may receive until you have time to get advice you trust.

  12. Cancel your spouse’s travel reservations, appointments, subscriptions, recurring charges etc. Try to get any deposits back or collect on any relevant insurance.

  13. Hold on to check registers, cell phone, etc., for possible relevant information.

  14. If any vehicles are in your spouse’s name individually, contact DMV for Title and Registration change forms. Contact car and homeowners’ insurance carriers regarding death.

DOCUMENTS YOU MAY NEED: Death Certificates (5-6 certified copies), Social Security Card, Marriage Certificate, Birth Certificate, Birth Certificate for each child, Insurance Policies, Deeds and Titles to Property, Stock Certificates, Discharge Papers for a Veteran and/or V.A. Claim Number, Recent Income Tax Forms and W-2 Forms, Automobile Title and Registration Papers, Loan and Installment Payment Books or Notes.

Note: We are not licensed to give legal or tax advice. Consult you preferred CPA, financial advisor and attorney for advice on your specific situation.


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