Can a Checklist Help Me After My Spouse Dies?

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You may need to tackle a checklist after the death of your spouse.

Loosing the love of your life is hard.

This is, of course, an understatement.

Nothing can prepare you for the pain of such a loss.

Unfortunately, the world ignores this burden and continues to make demands.

According to a recent Forbes article titled ‘Checklist for Handling the Death of a Spouse,” there is much to do after the death of a spouse.

A checklist can be helpful after your spouse dies.
Creating a checklist can help you take each day one step at a time after your spouse dies.

When you are already overwhelmed with grief, the tasks can feel suffocating.

What can you do?

Creating a checklist can help.

If you know your spouse will die soon, you begin creating a checklist beforehand.

If not, that is okay too.

What should you put on this checklist?

Get Organized.

This step includes making the list in the first place.

When you know what you have to do, you can tackle it more easily.

You can remember what you have done as you check items off of the list.

Without a getting organized, your efforts will be haphazard and irritating.

Do an Inventory.

Look over the estate planning documents you and your spouse executed.

Collect the documents you or the executor will need to administer and manage the final affairs.

If you are struggling to locate financial assets, reference a tax return.

Identify the Executor.

The executor will be responsible for settling the estate of your spouse and following through on the terms of the last will.

If you are not the designated executor, then notify this person swiftly to start the probate process.

Get a Death Certificate.

Many organizations and accounts will require an “original” death certificate issued by the state in order to proceed with the wishes expressed in the estate plan of your spouse.

Requesting at least a dozen is a good place to start.

Contact Your Professional Advisors.

If your spouse relied on professional advisors while alive, these individuals will be helpful after the death of your spouse.

Who should you contact?

Reach out to the estate planning attorney, financial advisors, insurance professional, CPA, and even bankers.

You also will need to contact the Social Security Administration to notify them of the death of your spouse.

Take a Step Back.

Should you really include breaks on your checklist?


Taking the time to breathe and grieve is essential to your own well being.

Checking in or talking with loved ones can be therapeutic for everyone involved.

Avoid Making Any Major Decisions.

You may be tempted to sell your home or make a large investment.


You should not make any major financial decisions for at least a year.

When you are reeling from the loss of a loved one, you are prone to make poor choices and ignore the advice of wise individuals. 

Make Certain the Wishes of Your Spouse Are Carried Out.

You may not agree with every wish your spouse included in his or her estate plan or funeral directions.

Even so, following these directions will honor your spouse.

Although a checklist cannot remove the heaviness of grief, following the steps can lighten the stress of managing the affairs of your spouse and provide room to mourn.

Reference: Forbes (Aug. 28, 2020) ‘Checklist for Handling the Death of a Spouse”

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