The death of a spouse or loved one is a tough time. Even during this period of grief and emotional readjustment, important financial and logistical arrangements need to be managed.
This survivors guide was developed to help you manage the many details which need immediate attention. Remember this is your journey, and there is no right or wrong way to handle.
What to do CHECKLIST
You will need to give copies of the death certificate to many of the offices or agencies you contact. You can purchase certified copies of the death certificate through your funeral director or from the county health district. There will usually be a charge per document. You may save money by using a photocopy when possible, but many companies will require a certified copy. For most circumstances, you will want 10-12 copies but may need more later.
If your loved one was a veteran who received an honorable discharge, survivors might be eligible for a variety of benefits including burial expenses, plot allowances as well as grave markers.
The surviving spouse and dependent children of veterans receiving disability benefits may also be entitled to monthly payments. Check with your regional Veterans Affairs (VA) office and get a Certificate of Honorable (or other than dishonorable) Discharge and write to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
A Marriage Certificate
Copies of the marriage certificate are needed if the spouse of the deceased will be applying for benefits. Copies are available at the Office of the County Clerk where the marriage license was issued.
Birth Certificates for Dependent Children
A Copy of the Will
The lawyer of the deceased may have the will, or it may be in a safe deposit box.
There may be several types of insurance policies. These could include life, mortgage or loan, accident, auto, and any insurance provided by an employer.
Social Security Documents
If your loved one paid into Social Security for at least 40 quarters, they may be covered. Check with your local Social Security office or call 800.772.1213 to determine eligibility.
Federal Estate Tax, State Taxes, and Income Taxes
Guidelines for these are continually changing, and no two states are the same. For more information contact your state tax department or your families’ professional tax advisor.