1. Obtain Death Certificates
  1. Contact Attorney who set up wills/ trusts, your Financial Planner and your tax preparer.
  1. Your Attorney will determine if an estate needs to be set up for the deceased spouse; Your Financial Planner should work as a team with the attorney to make any necessary transfers and changes and your tax preparer needs to be kept abreast.
  1. Notify employers of the death and find out about how to keep health insurances, and also see what you may need to do to transfer any pension assets, etc.
  1. If a Federal Government employee – Contact OPM re pension benefits, health insurance, Thrift Plans, other benefits Contact any company providing a pension.
  1. Contact Social Security and notify them of the death – if you are eligible to collect start the process of determining whether your benefit or spousal benefits are higher
  1. Contact life insurance companies and start making death claims
  1. Contact Annuity companies and make claims
  1. Contact credit card companies and let them know of the death. Try to put all credit in your name
  1. Contact utilities to put everything in your name
  1. Convert joint bank accounts to your name
  1. Discuss with your attorney about transferring ownership of home and other real property to your name.
  1. Think about the second car and what you would like to do about it. Call your Car Insurance company and notify them
  1. Begin to establish a budget/ Review portfolios to see if it is still relevant to your new status and evaluate your income needs. If you are the spouse of a Federal Retiree, your pension income will likely decrease by close to 50%. 
  1. Transfer spouse’s IRA accounts per beneficiary
  1. Change beneficiaries on your IRA’s, life insurances, and other instruments as needed
  1. Review your own estate documents and redo as needed. Be sure that you have appropriate people identified in your Powers of Attorney.
  1. In general, resist the temptations to jointly title assets with your children/other relatives
  1. Remember that in the year of the death you will be filing a joint tax return. In year two and beyond you will be filing either Single or Head of Household if you have dependent children.  Budget for that possible increase in tax liabilities for year two. Also, there might be other types of returns needed for the estate.  We can help with all of these.