5 things you should do immediately after losing a partner

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Losing a partner is a devastating experience. When you’re caught up in an emotional turmoil, the last thing on your mind is probably the financial moves you now need to make. But from a financial planning perspective, there are some actions you should take as soon as possible, while other things you can wait until you feel ready to tackle them. In today’s “Financially Savvy Female” column, we talk with Rachael Burns, CFP, Financial Planner and Founder of True Worth Financial Planning, about what women should do immediately after losing a partner and what steps to take. less urgent financial planning tasks. .

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What to do immediately after the loss of a partner

Here are the issues Burns said you need to address as soon as possible.

Update relevant agencies

“If your spouse was employed, contact their employer to guide you through retirement and any other spousal benefits available to you,” Burns said. “You will also need to call Social Security to report your partner’s death and see if you are eligible for survivor benefits. Be sure to inform all insurance companies where your partner had a policy.

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Gather your partner’s estate planning documents

This includes all wills and/or trusts.

“These can be held by an estate planning attorney or kept in a safe place,” Burns said.

Collect and pay all outstanding bills

You don’t want missed payment penalties or debts to add to your current stress. Make sure you don’t pay any bills that may be due during this time.

“Many bills can be set to automatic payments, so be sure they won’t be interrupted if bank accounts have been frozen after your spouse’s death,” Burns added.

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Contact the credit bureaus

“Make sure you get a list of all debts and open accounts belonging to your partner, and make sure no new credit can be taken out in your partner’s name,” Burns said.

Make sure you have access to cash

Before freezing or closing an account, make sure you have access to enough cash to get by in the short term.

“Estimate how much you’ll need to cover immediate bills, funeral/burial costs, and any other urgent items,” Burns said. “If you don’t have enough cash, consider selling other assets that can be sold quickly and easily without penalty or other losses.”

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Other items to put on your financial to-do list

“All of the following tasks are important, but can be postponed until you’ve completed the most pressing items and feel ready to tackle the next tasks,” Burns said.

Update ownership of assets and accounts

“You will eventually want everything transferred to your name,” Burns said. “Each asset will have its own process for updating it, so you’ll want to check with each financial institution or county registrar’s office.”

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Update succession plans

The loss of a partner will likely mean that you will have to review your estate plans.

“If you’re older or in poor health, it’s more time-sensitive,” Burns said. “Consult with an estate planning attorney to ensure you have a plan in place for how your assets will be distributed if you die, and also appoint someone to help you with medical and financial decisions should you become unfit. Verify your beneficiaries on any of your retirement accounts and insurance policies.

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Reallocate investments

“Review your investments to make sure they match your risk tolerance and investment goals, which may be different than your partner’s,” Burns said. “It may be more urgent if you have inherited some very high-risk investments that don’t match your investment preferences and comfort level.”

Consider meeting with a tax professional

“After the year your partner dies, you will be filing as a single person, so there may be strategies to optimize your taxes,” Burns said.

GOBankingRates wants to empower women to take control of their finances. According to the latest statistics, women hold $72 billion in private wealth – but fewer women than men consider themselves to be in “good” or “excellent” financial shape. Women are less likely to invest and are more likely to have debt, and women are still paid less than men overall. Our “Financially Savvy Female” column will explore the reasons for these inequalities and provide solutions to change them. We believe financial equality starts with financial literacy, which is why we provide tools and guidance for women, by women, to take control of their money and help them live richer lives.

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About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Prior to joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. His work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she’s been featured on “Good Morning America” ​​as a celebrity news expert.

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