1. Make funeral or other memorial Service arrangements.
You don't need a costly funeral to show your love or respect for your spouse.
2. Order 10 certified original Death Certificates. (not photo copies)
3. Locate important papers, e.g., bank statements, Insurance Policys, deeds,
Social Security cards, etc.
4. Go to the Bank, talk with your Financial Institutions about handling joint accounts
safe deposit boxes, etc.
5. Notify Insurance Companies of your spouse's death, each Company will need a copy
of the death certificate.
6. Contact the Social Security Office. Benefits are not automatic, you must apply or make
a claim to receive them; also, don't forget to apply for the one time benefit of $255.
7. Contact your spouse's employer, union, or other organization which he or she may have
had an association. These organizations may have insurance policies of which you may
be the beneficiary. Inquire about any 401K, pension or Company stock benefits.
8. Advise all creditors (in writing), including issuers of credit cards, that your spouse
has died. If you had any loans, find out if they are insured. If you have Mortgage
Insurance, your house will be paid for. Check your Credit Card companies to see if they
carried group Life Insurance.
9. Consult a Lawyer. Find a lawyer you trust who specializes in wills, estates and probate.
Discuss fees before you engage any legal help.
See a Tax accountant as soon as you can, preferably during the first six months
of widowhood. Federal law requires that an estate tax return is filed within nine months
in many cases. It is important to seek out expert advice to determine your full tax liability.
Probate procedures are a complex matter depending on the size of the estate and the
claims against it. The advice of your lawyer is important. It saves money if the
surviving spouse can be appointed administrator of the estate, however, it involves
complexities you may not want during this already stressful time. Probate can take a year
to complete. The administrator must perform a number of tasks. If you elect to be the
administrator, seek consulting help from a lawyer.