If you are suddenly faced with the death of your spouse, there are some legal and financial issues you will need to address immediately. It is difficult to focus at such a time, so it is best to prepare early on. This article will outline some of the most important things you need to do to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Update Your Will and Beneficiary Designations
If you have not done so already, now is the time to update your will and ensure that all of your beneficiary designations are up to date. This includes things like life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and investments.
This is especially crucial if your spouse is your primary beneficiary. With your spouse gone, if you have not named a beneficiary for these assets, the state will determine who gets them — which may not be who you would want.
Update Your Medical Power of Attorney
You must also update your medical power of attorney (MPOA) if your spouse is your designated agent. A medical power of attorney allows you to name someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you cannot do so yourself.
Without an updated health care power of attorney, your family may have to go through a lengthy and expensive legal process to have someone appointed as your guardian to make medical decisions on your behalf.
Make Sure Your Bills are Paid
One of the first things you need to do after your spouse dies is to ensure that all bills are paid. This includes the mortgage, car payments, credit card bills, utilities, etc. If you don’t stay on top of these, you could quickly find yourself in financial trouble.
In addition, you will need to notify the Social Security Administration of your spouse’s death. They can help you determine what benefits you are entitled to and help you file for them.
You should also contact your health insurance provider to update your coverage. If your spouse was on your health insurance plan, you will need to find a new one covering you and your family.
Get Your Finances in Order
The death of a spouse is a significant financial blow to most families. If you were relying on your spouse’s income, you would need to figure out how to make ends meet now that they are gone. In addition to the loss of revenue, funeral expenses and estate taxes often need to be paid. These can put a lot of strain on your finances.
It’s essential to take some time to get your finances in order after your spouse dies. Make a budget and figure out what you can and cannot afford. You may need to sit down with a financial advisor and make some tough choices. You must find ways to be as financially stable as possible during this difficult time.
If your spouse was working and paying into Social Security, you might be entitled to a portion of those benefits. Claim your benefits. These will help your finances.
Claim Your Spouse’s Life Insurance
If your spouse has life insurance, you must file a claim. This can be a lengthy and complicated process, so starting as soon as possible is essential.
You will need to provide the insurance company with a death certificate and other documentation, so make sure you have all of that ready before you start the claims process.
Many insurance companies find ways to deny the beneficiary’s claim. Consulting a lawyer specializing in life insurance claims will strengthen your position. Your lawyer will have the expertise and experience to ensure that you receive what your spouse intended for you.
Handle Your Spouse’s Estate
If your spouse died without a will, you will need to go through the process of probate in order to settle their estate. This can be a lengthy and complicated process, so it’s important to get help from a lawyer.
If your spouse had a will, things will be much simpler. You will still need to go through the probate process, but it will be much easier to settle the estate.
In either case, you will need to take inventory of all of your spouse’s assets and debts and file the appropriate paperwork with the court. This can be a daunting task, but it’s important to do it as soon as possible in order to protect your interests.
Ensure You Have Trusted Legal Counsel
Dealing with the death of a spouse is one of the most devastating experiences a person can go through. It can be doubly difficult to attend to the legalities and financial matters listed above at a time of grief. That is why it is crucial to have plans in place and a trusted lawyer on call. Having someone do the legal work for you while protecting your interests will give you some breathing room.