Living on Your Own
Important First Steps if Your Spouse Passes Away
No woman wants to think about losing her husband. But according to the Journal of Financial Planning, seven out of 10 baby boomer wives are expected to outlive their husbands. So you need to be prepared to handle financial matters in the event you find yourself on your own.
Compile Necessary Documents Now
Within the first week after a spouse passes away, it is important to is complete the paperwork needed to receive the financial benefits you’re entitled to, including:
- Life insurance proceeds
- Social Security benefits
- Employee benefits
- Veterans’ benefits
- Benefits from your spouse’s credit union or labor union
To obtain these benefits, you’ll need these documents:
- Death certificate (from the funeral director or county health department)
- Marriage certificate (If you don’t have it, you can get a copy from the county you were married in.)
- Your husband’s will
- Insurance policies
- Birth certificates (if you have dependents)
- Certificate of Discharge from Military
- A complete list of all property
Work with your husband to compile them so that you both know where they are in the event you need them.
Prepare to Handle the Finances on Your Own
If your husband passes away, you’ll need to start handling the finances on your own. Here are some financial issues to address:
- Determine what your monthly expenses are and create a budget.
- Define and prioritize what is important to you and see how much of your income you can save and invest to reach your goals.
- Settle the estate.
- Transfer retirement plans and investment accounts into your name.
- Review retirement and investment accounts with your financial advisor. If you don’t already have one, ask family members or friends to recommend someone they trust.
- Educate yourself about finances and investments.
- Update your will and change your beneficiaries.
- Review your life and disability insurance policies.
Getting prepared now can save you from a lot of stress later.