The Widow’s Checklist

by | Jun 26, 2020 | WWC WorthWhile Reading

After surviving the numbing grief of their spouse’s death, most widows tend to find themselves in shock and confusion.  They are not prepared to even think about tomorrow, let alone all the necessary tasks that must be dealt with.  They have just lost the most important person in their life and now they are expected to close out the records of that life.  Unfortunately, one of life’s harsh realities.


This is all understandable, so if you find yourself in this situation, we would like to offer some help in the form of the following to-do list.  We hope it might be helpful to you.


  • First, we suggest calling your attorney. He will be a valuable resource for the will and all the legal and financial considerations as they relate to processes and laws within your state and federal government.  You know, all the red tape.
  • Be sure to secure certified copies of death certificates. It is recommended to obtain multiple copies – about ten.  The funeral home you’re working with can help or you can order them from the vital statistics office in the state where the loved one died.
  • Contact the Social Security Administration. Please note that this cannot be done online, so you will need to call 800-772-1213 or visit your local Social Security Administration office.
  • Notify spouse’s employer, if applicable. Check on retirement or pension plans, life insurance policies and any health insurance coverage (can it be continued?).  Notify your employer, if applicable, since death of a spouse may trigger benefit decisions for you.
  • You may also want to check with the Veteran’s Administration, if your spouse was in the military. You might be eligible for some VA benefits.
  • Be sure to notify all insurance companies, including life and health, and don’t forget to update policies, like auto and home owner’s insurance.
  • Changing all property titles will be necessary.
  • You will also need to change titles on all jointly-held bank, investment and credit accounts and close accounts that were solely in your spouse’s name.
  • Send a letter to all three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. It is important that they have notification so that the account is closed and no further credit can be issued.
  • Another matter to tend to is taxes. Notify your accountant/tax preparer because they will be able to help you if the estate has to file a tax return – also a final tax return will need to be filed for your spouse.
  • Some little things that might slip through the cracks are his driver’s license, social media and e-mail accounts – just a reminder to cancel those.
  • Finally, we would like to suggest that you interview some fee-only Certified Financial Planner™ professionals and find someone with whom you feel comfortable and can understand. They will guide you in decisions you need to make and will be by your side in planning for your future needs.


We wish you all well!  Have a great weekend!