The death of a spouse means additional responsibilities.
Being married has numerous benefits.
It allows for constant companionship and emotional support.
It also enables couples to divide responsibilities and lighten individual burdens.
According to a recent Forbes article titled “What To Do After The Death Of A Spouse,” these benefits are immediately lost after a spouse dies.
Unfortunately, this loss is underscored by the numerous responsibilities of a widow or widower after the death of the spouse.
Many of these actions are time-sensitive.
What must a widow or widower do immediately following the death of the spouse?
First, the surviving spouse must obtain several certified copies of the death certificate.
During the funeral and memorial services, you should also request a relative or family friend to watch over the home, as these events are prime opportunities for vandalism and robbery.
No, I am serious.
There are evil people out there who have no conscience or heart.
If you plan to visit family for more than a few days, arrange for a trustworthy neighbor to gather your mail, watch for any parcel deliveries to your front door to thwart “porch pirates,” and arrange for any pets to be boarded or cared for at your home.
Financially, people can be negatively impacted by common mistakes.
What actions can you take to avoid these financial issues?
Remove or adjust the social security number from your accounts.
File your taxes and other documentation by the appropriate deadlines.
Confirm whether the required minimum distributions were taken from the retirement accounts of your spouse before their death.
Wait to distribute or transfer assets until you receive authorization according to the estate plan.
Organize your finances as soon as possible by collecting financial statements and documents for investment accounts, bank statements, life insurance policies, retirement account beneficiary designations and statements, pensions details, and estate planning documents.
You should also inventory outstanding liabilities and debts for loan or mortgage balances, unpaid bills, and credit card balances.
Failing to take these actions means you could end up owing penalty fees.
By taking these actions and following the instructions outlined in the estate planning documents, you will be better able to navigate the responsibilities arising after the death of a spouse.
Contact the attorney who prepared the estate plan to begin “administering” the estate or trust.
That attorney will either handle the administration or bring in another attorney with that specific skill set.
Not all “estate planning” attorneys are “estate or trust administration” attorneys.
Reference: Forbes (April 20, 2023) “What To Do After The Death Of A Spouse“