The death of any loved one can be hard, but the death of a spouse can be especially tough. In most cases, spouses appoint each other to handle final arrangements with the funeral home, as well as to take care of important financial decisions. This can be very stressful, especially if you have never planned a funeral or settled an estate. If your spouse passes away before you do, take the following steps:
Retrieve Important Final Documents
While most spouses talk with each other about their final wishes, after your spouse dies it is important to consult his or her will or trust documents for specific instructions regarding his or her burial or cremation. If you do not have an official copy of the will or trust documents, contact your lawyer.
Contact the Funeral Home
Whether your spouse dies in the hospital due to illness or injury, or passes naturally at home, you will need to contact your preferred funeral home to arrange burial or cremation. Most funeral homes offer a wide variety of services, so they can also assist you in planning a viewing and arranging your spouse's funeral. Many funeral homes have chapels on site where the funeral can be held, or the funeral home can arrange to transport your spouse to your church if you prefer that the services are performed there.
Obtain the Death Certificate
In most cases the funeral home that you work with will file for a death certificate, and you can then get certified copies from them. You will need copies of the death certificate for the life insurance company and Social Security Administration. You may also need a copy of the death certificate if you plan on selling the home that you and your spouse shared, or any other joint property that is in both of your names. It is a good idea to obtain several more death certificates than you think you need so you don't have to order additional copies in the future.
Avoid Making Big Financial Decisions Immediately After Your Spouse's Death
Dealing with the death of a spouse is emotionally devastating, and it is in your best interest to give yourself time to mourn and grieve before making any big decisions. If you have collected a large life insurance settlement, or received other monetary death benefits, place those funds into an account until you feel like you are ready to talk to a financial professional who can help plan your future.
For more information about funerals, contact a professional like Farone & Son Inc.