What to do After the Death of a Spouse

One of the hardest things that we do with clients is help process the death of a loved one like a spouse or a partner. Here’s some common tasks that need to be dealt with:

What to do After the Death of a Spouse - Insurance, Investments, Social Security, and More

Retirement Assets and Other Investments

If you were the beneficiary on any 401(k)s, IRAs, Roth IRAs, or brokerage accounts you will need to contact the plan administrators or custodians to start the process of getting the investments transferred to your name.

Depending on the type of account, you may be able to receive the assets in an inherited account (such as an inherited IRA), or into your own name in and merged with your other retirement assets.

Spouses in particular have more options and considerations in how to receive the assets that will impact taxes, RMD schedules, and more.

Life Insurance and Other Insurance Policies

If your spouse of loved one had any life insurance policies, you will need to contact the insurance company and provide a death certificate to receive your benefits.

Most life insurance is usually received tax free and therefore does not cause a lot of tax problems. But, there are many other decisions you will have to make on what to do with that money.

For more, see our blog posts here on investing inheritances.

Impact to Social Security

Depending on your age and the age of your spouse, you will have options with your social security benefits.

You may be eligible for survivor benefits, which will be available to you until you begin your own Social Security benefits.

If you and your spouse had already begun Social Security, you will receive whichever benefit was highest. However, you will not receive both. For many households, the death of a spouse results in a large reduction in total Social Security benefits.

This means your investments may now play a bigger role in your retirement, withdrawals may need to be increased, which can lead to more tax issues and concerns about the longevity of your retirement assets.

Other Assets

Your house, your cars, and bank accounts a few of the assets that may have to be retitled in your name.

It may also be important to contact insurance companies and have your spouse removed from the accounts as well.

Digital Logins and Online Accounts

Many households have one spouse who primarily takes care of most of the ongoing monthly bills. Make sure you have the login information for any utilities so that critical monthly bills can be paid without interruption.

If you are unable to find information, contact the utilities directly.

Update Estate Documents and Beneficiaries

Most spouses list each other as the primary beneficiaries to their assets. Now, you will want to make sure your accounts are updated to go to someone other than your spouse.

You may also want to consider any updates to Wills, Trusts, Power of Attorney, and other estate planning documents.

Were Here to Help

If you have just experienced the death of a spouse please do not feel like you need to figure this out alone. We are here to help.

Please reach to schedule a free, no obligation 30 minute meeting with us. We will be glad to help you get started and provide more detail on the items above.

You can call us at: 319-393-4020

Or, schedule a meeting using our online calendar, here: Schedule a Meeting

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