When a Spouse Dies – Things You Need to Know
While you are grieving, the first thing you’ll want to do is determine who you can trust to help you make the important financial and legal decisions that will probably all come at you at the same time. Asking for assistance is important since you may not be emotionally able to make wise long-term decisions by yourself at this time.
Ask for Support and Guidance
Perhaps you have children who can help guide you, provided they don’t have their own personal agenda. Another person who would be helpful is a close friend who may have also recently lost a spouse. The one thing that you should not do is turn to friends or family to help you make legal or financial decisions unless they are professionals or accomplished in those areas. These people should be available to you for their emotional support.
Contact Your Attorney
Certainly, you should make contacting your family lawyer near the top of the list of people you or a family member should contact on your behalf. He or she can give you a short list of immediate decisions that will need to be made until you can get together for a formal meeting after things have settled down.
It is also very important to postpone life changing decisions, make major investments, or large purchases until after you have had time to mourn and are more clear-minded.
A simple but very important matter is to make sure you have usernames and passwords for all of your spouse’s “digital assets” – from banks and financial institutions to social media and government agencies. There are many unscrupulous players out there just waiting to play havoc with your finances by using the deceased’s name to get money, goods and services. A few quick phone calls or emails can help avoid nasty things from happening. Credit cards should also be cancelled, and the post office should be advised.
It is a simple, but very important matter to order, or have your funeral director order enough certified death certificates. These documents are needed for court filing proceedings, collecting on insurance policies or benefits from an employer.
Consult Trusted Advisors
And a final, but very important point I’d like to make: Well-meaning friends and family members will all want to give you financial or legal advice. Remember, everyone’s situation is different, and so are your family and personal health care issues. Just listen to your trusted advisor, lawyer, and financial advisor. They will have your best interests at heart.
Call on Us
You can feel comfortable calling our office whenever you have questions about what to do after your spouse dies. We understand that this is a difficult time for you and your family and we're here to help make sense of the legal and financial tasks ahead of you. Our experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate staff can help guide you through the process. Call us today at (585) 203-1020 to discuss your next steps.