How to Keep Your Finances Afloat After the Death of a Spouse

By Mark Scott

The death of a spouse is one of the most devastating losses that you could experience. But in the middle of grieving, you are likely to also experience severe financial hardship due to the loss of the extra income associated with your spouse’s death.

Fortunately, there are ways to keep your finances afloat after the premature death of a spouse.  

Give Yourself Grieving Room

When you lose your spouse, you may immediately begin to worry about the heavy financial burden resulting from his or her death. For that reason, experts warn that it is tempting for many to take on too much at once. Trying to get a new job while also dealing with your grief can be a major mistake.

Instead, give yourself time to grieve. While grieving, you can consider your next step to ensure that your finances stay afloat. 

Determine the Importance of Each Financial Task  

Not every potential financial task needs to be taken care of immediately. Personal finance experts recommend that you sort your financial responsibilities by level of urgency. Trying to take care of everything immediately can be overwhelming. 

Instead, fit your financial obligations into categories based on whether they need to be taken care of immediately, soon, or later.

Notify Credit Bureaus of Your Spouse’s Death

One step that is easy to miss when your spouse has just died is the need to notify credit bureaus about your spouse’s death. This step can benefit you in three ways:

  1. Creditors will receive death notices when they try to report any failed payments on accounts that your spouse alone owed. 
  2. You will not receive threatening notices from creditors as often, which can greatly reduce your stress levels.
  3. Your own credit files will be updated with your joint accounts now being solely in your name, which could benefit your long-term credit goals.  

Make Sure All Accounts Are in Your Name

While credit bureaus can take care of certain issues, when it comes to making sure that every company has your joint accounts in your name, you will need to be responsible for making the changes.

You should make sure the following accounts are taken care of and put in your name if you previously had a joint account with your spouse: 

  • Retirement accounts
  • Life insurance
  • Safe deposits
  • Bank accounts.

Understand What Your Cash Flow Currently Is 

When your spouse dies, your cash flow situation will change immediately. You need to sit down and take a good look at your finances, which includes looking at how much money is coming into your household. 

You might need to liquidate some funds or seek other means of obtaining financial support. By contrast, you could postpone worrying about your finances immediately if your cash flow is in good shape. 

Contact an Attorney for a Wrongful Death Suit 

It may be that your spouse died as the result of someone else’s negligent actions, like a careless driver or negligent doctor. If that is the case, then you could sue the person responsible or file a wrongful death claim with an insurance company. 

You may also be able to obtain legal funding for a wrongful death lawsuit if you lack the resources to conduct the litigation. The best part about this type of funding is that you don’t have to repay the loan if you lost the case.

If you believe that you have grounds for a wrongful death suit, you should discuss your case with an attorney who specializes in wrongful death suits to determine if you are eligible to file a lawsuit. Look for a lawyer that offers a first free case evaluation and works on a no-wi-no-fee basis if your budget is tight.

About the Author

markMark Scott With a law degree under his belt and years of experience, Mark Scott set off to make the law more accessible to all. He decided to help people lost in the maze of legal terminology to find their way. Mark writes clear and concise pieces and gives simple advice that is easy to follow. On account of positive feedback from readers, he decided to dedicate more of his time to this goal and became a legal columnist. In his writings, Mark covers a wide array of topics, like how to seek legal counsel, or how to deal with different procedures. Furthermore, he directs his readers toward other trustworthy resources for more in-depth information.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.