Dealing with the loss of your spouse can be very traumatic. When you’ve lived life in tandem with someone, it’s easy to get caught up in the emotional upheaval of learning to live on your own again. For your future financial security, it’s important to keep a clear head during a trying time. There will be many financial settlement issues to take care of, but with grace and a little patience, you’ll get through it.
Keep organized and keep active
It’s hard to deal with mundane things like administration in the midst of grief. But keeping active, even in the organization of your and your spouse’s estate, can help take your mind off things. To get the process started, you’ll need a number of documents. In some cases, you may need certified copies. For example, you’ll need several certified copies of the death certificate along with your spouse’s Social Security number to apply for life insurance proceeds, transfer pension benefits and apply for Social Security benefits. You may also need your marriage certificate and your spouse’s birth certificate and copies of insurance policies. Since you’ll be doing many of these things for the first time, it could be helpful to get advice from an estate-planning attorney. They can be really helpful when you review things like the will and start the settlement process.
Do it now
Although it’s difficult, dealing with settlement issues now can help protect your future financial wellbeing. Here’s a list of things you should be checking into:
- Contact Social Security to see if you or your children are eligible for benefits.
- Apply for insurance benefits and any pension benefits.
- Review your budget and make adjustments to your expenses and income as needed. You may have immediate extra expenses, such as funeral costs, along with normal bills. If you’re short on cash, you may be able to get insurance payments within a few days. You also may be able to delay certain expenses by explaining that your spouse died and you are waiting for insurance proceeds.
- Update your financial accounts to your name and change beneficiary designations.
- Review your insurance policies and make coverage and beneficiary adjustments based on your revised needs.
Talk with someone
Coming to terms with your loss is difficult, but there is still much to live for and look forward to. Make sure your finances continue to meet your needs as you step into the next chapter, and meet with one of our financial advisors to review your investments and talk about your goals. They’ll help guide you in making some of the most important financial decisions for your future.
This material is provided for general and educational purposes only; it is not intended to provide legal, tax or investment advice. All investments are subject to risk. We recommend that you consult an independent legal or financial advisor for specific advice about your individual situation.
The tax information herein is not intended to be used, and cannot be used by any taxpayer, for the purpose of avoiding tax penalties. Taxpayers should seek advice based on their own particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.
Securities and investment advisory services offered through Voya Financial Advisors, Inc. member SIPC.
Neither Voya nor its affiliated companies provide tax or legal advice. Please consult with your tax and legal advisors regarding your individual situation.