Q:

What are some things you need to do after your spouse dies?

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Quick Answer

Important things to do after a spouse dies include consulting a lawyer, obtaining multiple copies of the death certificate, obtaining letters of administration and notifying financial institutions and government agencies of the death. While these steps can be complicated, they are necessary to protect the deceased’s assets.

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Full Answer

Even if he chooses not to hire a lawyer, the deceased’s spouse should consult one about the various complications that arise following a death. While it may seem expensive, hiring a lawyer can often help the survivor save money by avoiding financial pitfalls and liabilities. Lawyers can help take some stress off a grieving spouse by dealing with the financial and legal side of the matter.

An important step is to obtain multiple copies of the deceased’s death certificate. This is one of the most crucial documents for navigating the deceased’s finances and other affairs, and organizations such as banks, employers and unions will not discuss a deceased’s affairs without them. The surviving partner also needs to obtain letters testamentary, also known as letters of administration. These documents prove the person has the right to handle the deceased’s affairs.

Once a widower has secured the necessary documents, he needs to inform various organizations of the deceased’s death. Social Security, employers, insurance companies, credit card companies, utility companies and creditors all need to be informed. Doing this stops bills mounting up, secures insurance payments and even activates Social Security survivor benefits, where applicable.

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