Order enough copies of the death certificate. The funeral director performs this service, but you can order them yourself from the state if needed.
Life insurance and social security
Make all life insurance claims promptly. You will need to provide the insurance company with a death certificate. Notify the Social Security Administration. You should be eligible for a death benefit, and may be eiligible for additional benefits.
Call and notify all credit card issuers with accounts in your spouse's name of his or her death. Follow each call with a letter requesting that the account be closed, and enclose a copy of the death certificate. Continue making payments due on jointly held credit cards, and have the accounts re-issued in your name only.
Banking and utilities
Have joint banking and investment accounts transferred to your individual name. If you are the designated beneficiary for your spouse's individual accounts, have those assets transferred to your name. Have any utilities in your spouse's name transferred to your name.
Change vehicles titled in both names or your spouse's name to your name, and update your automobile insurance coverage.
Probate and estate planning
Consult an attorney to review the need to probate your spouse's estate and to address any real estate title issues. You should also review your own will or prepare one if you do not have one.
Review your own life insurance, pension, IRA, etc. You may need to change your beneficiary designation. Review your own finances and make any necessary adjustments to your budget.
Insurance and your home
Have your homeowner's insurance agent issue an endorsement removing your spouse's name from the policy. If you carry a mortgage insurance death benefit, file your claim with the insurance company.
Carefully review any medical bills for the final illness. Verify all charges and verify that they have been submitted to Medicare or the appropriate health insurance company for payment.
Finally, beware of those who would take advantage of you at this vulnerable time. Protect personal information, such as bank account numbers, social security numbers, or credit card numbers. Make any necessary changes in your home to improve security, including changing or improving locks and programming telephone numbers for emergencies.
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