Losing a spouse is one of the toughest ordeals you can go through. On top of the emotional impact, there is a number of financial troubles that can occur when losing a husband or wife. Sometimes, you can lessen the financial impact if you have time to prepare, say for example, if your spouse was ill for a period of time before their death. However, sometimes these losses can be sudden and unexpected. Here are actions you can take to help alleviate some of those financial frustrations.
Obtain Copies of Your Spouse’s Death Certificate
To verify the death of your spouse, the Social Security Administration, credit card companies, mortgage holders and insurers will need to see a copy of their death certificate. Most of the time, if you are using a funeral home to assist you, they will help you obtain the death certificate. If not, or if you need additional copies, you may need to get it on your own.
To obtain a death certificate in Minnesota, you’ll need to complete the Death Certificate Application. Keep in mind that the application must be signed and dated in front of a notary public. You can go in person to any Minnesota county vital records office, or you can fax, or mail the Minnesota Office of Vital Records. Total cost for the first certificate is $13, with any additional copies after that costing $6.
In Wisconsin, the cost is $20 for the first copy and $3 for any after that. In addition to mail and in-person requests for a certificate, Wisconsin also offers an online option. Just like with Minnesota, you must fill out an application before you can obtain a copy of a death certificate.
For more information on how to obtain a death certificate in each state, visit this resource for state-by-state death certificate ordering information.
Update Your Will
In some states, the death of a spouse can make a previous will invalid. You should check with your attorney to determine if you’re going to need to update your will or create a new one. In order to revoke your old will, you can write a statement in the new will that says you revoke all previously made wills. It is also smart to make sure that you destroy your previous will to avoid confusion when the time comes to put it into action. When it comes to updating, you will implement a codicil, which is essentially an amendment to the will. The codicil must be dated, signed, and witnessed, just like a legal will, to be valid.
Update Accounts Where Your Money is Held
After your spouse passes, you will want to make sure that you update beneficiaries on all insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other places your money is held. This is an important step, so make sure to cross every ‘t’ and dot every ‘i’ when it comes to addressing these accounts. Refer to this article, 5 Common Mistakes in Designating Beneficiaries, when making any updates.
Seek Professional Guidance
You don’t have to go through this difficult time alone. Seek out professional help from financial advisors who have experience in helping those who have been in your situation. The right advisor will take some of the burdens off your shoulders, and will work alongside you to help get your finances squared away.
You will have multiple meetings with your advisor, and each will contain a lot of information. Request that you would like someone in your meetings, or the advisor, to take notes during the meeting that you can take with you and review after leaving.
Apply for Survivor Benefits
It’s also wise to see if you are entitled to benefits, which may include Social Security death benefits, Social Security retirement benefits, employer benefits, or Veterans Administration benefits if they were a member of the military. If you’re over 60-years-old, you may be entitled to survivor benefits as well. A financial advisor can make sure that you cover all possible benefits that you are entitled to receive.
Pay Your Bills
This may seem like an obvious one, but sometimes the mundane items can get forgotten when you lose a spouse. Work with your financial advisor to make sure that you have all your ducks in a row when it comes to paying your bills on time.
Take Your Time
There is a tendency that when you lose a spouse, you feel pressured and rushed to start making financial decisions. Slow down. Take your time. When it comes to these decisions, the best practice is to think through all of them, especially with an advisor you can trust.
Before you dive into your financial well-being, make sure you take time to heal emotionally from your loss. Don’t let well-meaning friends or family members try and talk you into making decisions that you don’t agree with or don’t understand yet. Allow your understanding of your financial picture to grow before making any big financial decisions.
Trust Point Can Help You in Your Time of Need
If you’re looking for a financial professional who has a history of working with clients who have lost their husband or wife, Trust Point is here to help. Our team of financial experts are patient, knowledgeable, and willing to help you through this tough time. Contact us today, and we’ll help you every step of the way keep your financial goals and your legacy on track.