Handling Finances When a Spouse Dies

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After a spouse’s funeral at Moraine, OH funeral homes, one of the first things the surviving spouse will need to turn their attention to is handling finances. If all financial accounts (including credit cards, investments, and retirement/pensions) are held jointly by both spouses, taking care of this aspect of post-death matters is much easier. However, many times even the closest of spouses don’t have all their financial assets in both of the spouses’ names, which can complicate things for the surviving spouse.

There are several documents that the surviving spouse will need to get death benefits. These include life insurance and social security benefits (in many cases, one spouse will receive higher social security benefits than the other spouse – if that spouse dies, the surviving spouse is entitled to those benefits). You will also need these documents to handle financial assets, to pay off debt, and to manage all the financial accounts.

One of the documents you will need is a certified death certificate. The funeral home will take care of getting the death certificate, and will ask you how many copies you need. Since you will need this for access to and management of all financial benefits and assets, get at least 20 copies (if you’re handling a large estate from your late spouse, you may need additional copies).

You will also need the original copy of your spouse’s most recent will. You will keep the original and the financial institutions will make copies, but a copy of a will is not considered valid for taking over an estate.

A marriage license is another document that you will need manage and handle all the finances after your spouse has died. If you can’t find your marriage, you can get copies from the Clerk of Court in the city or county of the state you were married in.

Other documents that you will need include your spouse’s last Social Security statement, your spouse’s insurance policies, your spouse’s discharge order from the military (if there is one – this document is known as the DD-214 and it can also be used to claim veteran funeral benefits), your spouse’s last veteran’s benefit statement (if applicable), and all your spouse’s most recent bank, retirement, and brokerage account statements.

If you spouse had funeral burial insurance and/or life insurance, these policies can pay for funeral expenses. The funeral home will work with the insurance companies to take care of this financial obligation.

For bank accounts that were jointly-held by you and your spouse or that are designated as payable-on-death (POD) to the surviving spouse, you will already have access. For other bank accounts without a POD designation, if you’re the executor of your spouse’s will, you should be able to get access. Otherwise, you will likely have to petition the court to appoint you as the administrator (estate will have to be probated).

Next, you’ll need copies of the certified death certificate to claim assets like life insurance (benefits are usually paid within two weeks of a claim) and accidental death (if applicable) policies. Everything else in the estate will need to go through probate before assets can be distributed.

Be sure to cancel all credit card accounts in your spouse’s name. Also cancel any automatically recurring events, such as prescription refills. Be sure to notify health insurance providers of your spouse’s death to cancel any premiums that were being paid.

If your spouse was a retired military veteran (20 or more years of service), you are entitled to Survivor Benefit Plan payments (55% of your spouse’s retirement pay if they retired at 100% disability). If your spouse was on active duty when they died, you may receive a one-time tax-free payment of $100,000. You can also apply for a Dependency and Indemnity Compensation benefit if your spouse died in the line of duty or as a result of a service-related injury or disease.

If you need more guidance after funerals at Moraine, OH funeral homes, our compassionate and experienced staff at Glickler Funeral Home & Cremation Service can help. You can come by our funeral home at 1849 Salem Ave., Dayton, OH 45406, or you can contact us today at (937) 278-4287.

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