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Death of a spouse or loved one

As this is a very difficult time, we wanted to put together some reference material in order to help guide you in dealing with this terrible loss.

First steps

Your advisor can help you navigate through these tasks.

  • Contact your attorney to review your spouse's will and start the estate settlement process.
  • Obtain copies of the death certificate as well as your spouse's last Social Security and veterans' benefit statements. You should get 10 to 25 copies of the death certificate because many financial institutions require a death certificate to change or close an account.
  • Gather important documents and financial records (birth certificates, marriage certificates, life insurance policies) so you can transfer assets, close accounts and complete other tasks.
  • Locate all user names and passwords for electronic accounts.
  • Contact your insurance agent to assist you with any claims.
  • If employed, contact your spouse's employer for information on filing for benefits, especially health care.
  • If you're 60 or older, determine if you should start taking Social Security spousal benefits and whether you need to file an estate tax form.
  • Re-title jointly owned assets.

Review your current financial situation

Your financial advisor can help you navigate through this difficult time by assessing your financial situation, including:

  • Your current income.
  • Proceeds coming from life insurance policies.
  • What to do with any investments and retirement savings accounts that your spouse may have had.
  • Have you reviewed and changed beneficiary designations as appropriate?
  • Make necessary tax changes taking into consideration probate, gifting money to relatives or charities, and tax filing status.

The AARP has put together helpful information along with a checklist.

The Granite team can help. Please contact us.

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