What New Widows Need To Know
There are some things that are essential for newly widowed spouses to know. So, for your own well-being, it’s important to set aside time to deal with the details of providing for yourself financially.
Let’s assume the will of your spouse has been read, probated, and the executor/executrix has performed all necessary requirements. If you’ve received any insurance, disability benefits, or inherited funds, you should put the money in a safe place for at least one year — in government bonds, for example, or a savings account insured by the FDIC.
Even if your will was drawn up appropriately before your spouse died, it’s best to review and update it as soon as possible to be sure that it now prescribes the distribution of your current assets and names guardians for any minor children. If your estate is sizeable, you should consult a competent estate-planning attorney. Be aware that surviving spouses can receive unlimited assets through inheritance without incurring any federal estate taxes.
Not all states use the same code related to so-called death taxes that is used by the federal government. If you have an attorney, ask about your state’s code. If you have no attorney, contact your state tax commissioner’s office for information.
You should apply for Social Security benefits as soon as possible after the death of your spouse. Dependent survivors of Social Security participants are eligible to receive some financial benefits up to the age of 18 and perhaps longer if they are full-time students.
If your spouse was a veteran and had a service-related disability, you may qualify for benefits, even if the death of your spouse was not service-related. Contact the Department of Veterans Affairs for details.
Written by Howard Dayton