While death is inevitable, losing your spouse can be especially traumatic, especially if his or her passing was tragic or unexpected. After the death of your spouse you may feel lost and experience intense grief, but there are several important things you have to do in regards to settling your spouse's final arrangements as well as his or her estate. If your spouse has recently died, take the following steps:
Contact a Funeral Home
Immediately following a death, most people focus on planning the funeral for the deceased. A funeral home can help arrange transport of the body, and go over all of the details of the funeral service with you to ensure that everything goes smoothly. If your spouse made it known that he or she wanted to be buried, a funeral home can organize the burial at the cemetery. Likewise, most funeral homes can take care of cremation if that was the deceased's wishes.
Obtain an Official Copy of Your Spouse's Will or Trust Documents
Before you can take care of settling your spouse's estate, you will need his or her will or trust to show that you have the legal right to do so. After getting a hold of the original will or trust, make several copies of the document to keep on hand in case they are needed at any point while settling the estate.
Get Copies of the Death Certificate
One thing that many people fail to realize is that they will need multiple copies of their spouse's death certificate in order to settle the estate and take care of financial details. You should be able to get several certified copies of the death certificate through the funeral home you used for funeral arrangements, and if you need additional copies, they can be purchased at your local vital statistics office.
The death certificate will be needed to access bank accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies. You will also need to send copies of the death certificate to the Social Security Administration, credit card companies, and any other creditors that your spouse may have had.
Apply for Benefits
After you have proof that you are the executor of the estate and have copies of the death certificate, you can apply for survivor's benefits from the social security administration. You will also then be ready to claim any life insurance policies that your spouse held, and collect any retirement accounts that may have been held by your spouse's employer. Contact a business, such as Foster-Warne Funeral Home, for more information.