What to Do After Losing a Spouse

Losing a spouse is a difficult and emotional time – dealing with financial and estate matters may be the last thing on your mind. However, it is important to take care of these important tasks as soon as you are able, to help ensure that your financial future is secure. Here are some steps to manage your finances and estate after the loss of your spouse:

  1. Review your joint accounts and assets: Make a list of all the joint accounts and assets that you and your spouse shared, including bank accounts, credit cards, investments, and properties. Close any accounts that were solely in your spouse’s name and update the remaining accounts to reflect your status as the sole owner. This should also include updating the beneficiaries on all your remaining accounts.
  1. Notify your spouse’s employer (if applicable): Take the steps to collect or transfer benefits that you should receive as beneficiary, including retirement or pension plans. If you or your children were covered through your spouse’s medical insurance, you will want to ask about continuing coverage. Notify your employer as well, since the death of a spouse may be a “life event” that could trigger benefit decisions.
  1. Contact your spouse’s former employers: There may be outstanding benefits for you, such as insurance policies, a pension, or an old 401k.
  1. Review your insurance policies: Review your life insurance policies and beneficiaries. Update the beneficiaries on any policies that listed your spouse as the primary beneficiary.
  1. Review your will and estate plan: It is important for you to revisit your will and estate plan with an attorney. Make sure that your will reflects your current wishes and that your estate plan is in order.
  1. Notify the Social Security Administration: Notify the Social Security Administration of your spouse’s death. You may be eligible for survivor benefits, and it is important to apply for them as soon as possible.
  1. Review your taxes: Review your tax situation with an accountant or tax professional. You may be eligible for certain tax breaks or deductions, and it is beneficial to take advantage of them.
  1. Contact the three major credit bureaus: Contact Equifax, Experian, and Transunion for copies of your spouse’s credit reports. Have a notification placed so that new credit cannot be taken out in your spouse or partner’s name.
  1. Seek legal help: Depending on the circumstances surrounding your spouse’s death, you may need to seek legal help. This might include creating a will, probating an estate, or filing for survivor benefits.
  1. Seek Professional Help: If you are not sure about how to manage your finances and estate, seek professional help from a financial advisor or attorney. They can guide you through the process and help you make informed decisions.
  1. Be mindful of your spending: After losing a spouse, it may be tempting to spend on things that you may not need, but it is important to monitor your spending and to keep your finances in order.
  1. Make a plan for your future: It can be hard to think about the future, but it’s important to have a plan for how you’ll manage your finances, your home, and your day-to-day life.


We understand that losing a spouse is a very difficult process. By following these steps and seeking professional help, you can ensure that your finances are in order and that your estate is properly managed. Please reach out to us if you have any questions about the steps above or if you would like some help getting financially organized.


Download our checklist to make sure you don’t miss any steps in ensuring your financial future is secure after losing a spouse. 

Written by,

Michael Agorastos, CFP®

Michael Agorastos, CFP®

Michael is a comprehensive, fee-only financial planner who began his financial services career with Insight Wealth Strategies in 2013. His primary areas of expertise cover retirement planning (e.g. cash flow analysis, developing retirement income strategies, stock option planning, corporate benefit analysis, etc.), investment planning, and high-level income tax reduction strategies for individuals and small business owners.

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Insight Wealth Strategies, LLC (IWS) and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.