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If Your Spouse Passes Away

  • Make an appointment with Social Security to review your benefits. While your deceased spouse’s Social Security will end, you may be entitled to an increased monthly retirement benefit due to your spouse’s passing. 
  • Call your insurance agent to change your homeowner’s insurance and car insurance to your name alone. 
  • If your deceased spouse had any life insurance, call the insurance company to get Claim Forms. You will need to complete these forms and return them with the original policy and a death certificate. The life insurance proceeds will be paid within a couple of weeks. If you need help completing these forms, just let us know. We can prepare the forms for you. Also, certain Life Insurance Companies (MetLife, Prudential and John Hancock) had shares of stock attach to some policies. 
  • Call the pension benefit department if your deceased spouse was receiving a pension. It is possible that there is a remaining survivor’s pension or death benefit. 
  • For any joint bank accounts or joint investment accounts, you only need to provide the institution with a death certificate to have your deceased spouse’s name removed from the account. 
  • If your deceased spouse had an IRA or 401K, contact the institution holding the account. They will need a death certificate and you will need to make a payment election. Most often it is best to roll-over this account into your own IRA, but you should consult with your financial and tax advisors first. 
  • Review your own Will, Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy. You probably have your deceased spouse as your Executor and Agent. This is an important time to review these Estate Planning tools. 
  • At this time, you may also want to change beneficiaries on your life insurance, annuities, IRA or 401K. If your spouse was named as primary beneficiary you will want to amend such beneficiary designations.