Coping with the Loss of a Spouse ChecklistSubmitted by Latitudes Financial Strategies on December 30th, 2020
Losing one's significant other is one of the most stressful of all possible losses, even if you've had some time to emotionally prepare for it. And while it can be tough to do more than put one foot in front of the other, losing a spouse can also bring financial changes into your life. Below, find a checklist of some of the things you'll need to consider during this challenging time.
- Find out whether you are eligible for Social Security survivor benefits.
- Depending on how long you were married and how old your spouse was at the time of their death, you may be eligible for Social Security survivor benefits.1 You may also be eligible for a one-time death benefit of $255.
- To report a spouse's death, contact the Social Security office at 1-800-772-1213.
- Before you do this, it's a good idea to estimate how much you'll be eligible to receive in benefits. Before speaking with a financial professional, gather up documents like recent Social Security statements, prior years' tax returns, and pay stubs.
- Find out whether life insurance is available.
- If your spouse had life insurance, try to find a copy of the policy or contact the insurance provider to see how you can gain access to the policy.
- Many employers also offer a low-cost life insurance policy that pays out a multiplier of the employee's annual salary. Check with your spouse's employer to see whether such a policy is available and to get contact information for the policy owner.
- In most cases, life insurance proceeds are tax-free.2 There are some exceptions, most of which relate to the way the payout is structured.
- Gather and list your bills.
- If your spouse paid some or all of the bills or had utilities in their name, it's important to have these bills and services transferred into your name. A financial professional can help get your bills organized and ensure you have a system that will get them paid on schedule.
- Identify and collect all relevant documents a financial professional will need to see.
- It's better to err on the side of bringing too much than not enough. Gather financial statements, tax returns, pension documents, beneficiary updates, and anything else that may help a financial professional get a better idea of your financial picture.
- Get some extra copies of the death certificate, which you'll need in order to file for Social Security benefits, life insurance, and some pension benefits.
- Reach out to these professionals during this time.
- This is a considerably stressful time for you, but reaching out to professionals such as a lawyer, accountant, banker, or financial professional can help you get an idea of next steps. Understanding your spouses will or determining where to allocate your assets can be a daunting task alone, but specialized professionals can assist you with making these decisions.
- Information to have available.
- In preparation for meeting with a financial professional, you should have bank information, investment allocations, total income and expenses readily available to discuss.
Though nothing can ease the pain of losing your spouse, having a solid financial plan in place can allow you to focus on what matters most in the future.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be appropriate for you, consult your financial professional prior to investing. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly.
The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax planning or legal advice. We suggest that you consult with a qualified tax or legal advisor.
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