Losing your husband is one of the most difficult experiences you can face. It’s a time of profound grief, and the idea of dealing with legal matters can feel overwhelming. You might be unsure of where to start or what steps to take next. We’re here to guide you through this challenging time, helping you understand what needs to be done and providing you with the support you need.

First, take a deep breath. It’s okay to feel lost right now. You’re not alone, and there’s help available to guide you through this process.

Let’s break it down together, step by step, so you can manage what needs to be done without feeling too overwhelmed.

7 Steps: What To Do After a Spouse Dies

my husband passed away what do i do

1- Notify Authorities and Obtain the Death Certificate

One of the first things you’ll need to do is notify the appropriate authorities. This usually means contacting your husband’s doctor or hospice if he passed away at home or the hospital staff if he was in a medical facility.

However, if your husband was not expected to die, but dies suddenly, always call 911 responders.

The death certificate is an essential document, and you’ll need multiple copies for various legal and financial processes. Usually, a funeral home can help you get multiple copies of this document.

2- Review the Will and Contact an Estates Attorney

If your husband had a last will, now is the time to review it. This document outlines his wishes regarding his estate and can provide guidance on how to proceed.

It’s wise to contact an attorney in probate and estate planning to help you understand the will’s directives and navigate the legal system.

If there isn’t a will, the state laws will determine how the estate is distributed.

3- Contact a Funeral Home and Make Plans

my husband passed away what do i do

After the death of a spouse, you’ll want to notify friends, family, and your spouse’s employer. 

You’ll likely work with the funeral home to publish an obituary. Before posting anything on social media, call your close family and let them know. 

However, to prevent the need to call or text every acquaintance, you can make a tasteful post on social media accounts, letting others, including distant family members, know that your spouse has passed away.

When a spouse passes, it can feel like the work is never done. However, leaning on professionals can help you have just enough light for the step you’re on.

4- Inform Financial Institutions, Insurance Companies, and Social Security

You’ll need to inform banks, credit card companies, mortgage holders, life insurance companies, and other interested parties, such as the Social Security Administration, of your husband’s passing. Also, check if any life insurance policies were held at your spouse’s place of work or other organization.

  • The Social Security Administration may provide a lump sum death benefit for you or your children. In addition, depending on your income, you may receive monthly death benefits after a spouse’s death.
  • You’ll need to freeze credit accounts, close credit cards, and begin any necessary claims processes. Freezing your late husband’s credit file with the three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, can help prevent fraud in his name.
  • Each institution will require a copy of the death certificate, so it’s beneficial to have several copies on hand.

5- Understand and Settle Debts and Taxes

my husband passed away what do i do

When someone passes away, usually their estate goes through a process in North Carolina known as probate. Probate begins when a spouse or other close relative brings the will to the courthouse to be probated. The court then appoints a personal representative to settle the estate.

However, as a spouse, you may be able to settle the estate on your own if your husband left everything to you. Part of managing your husband’s estate will involve identifying and settling any outstanding debts. This might include mortgages, car loans, credit card debts, or other liabilities.

Additionally, you’ll need to address any taxes owed, including filing a final tax return for your husband. This can be complex, and having an estate administration attorney can be very helpful.

At Hopler Wilms, and Hanna, our experience in estate administration can make all the difference for you as you handle going through bank statements, retirement accounts, and estate planning papers. We also act as financial professionals helping settle the estate and assist you in expediting the processes involved.

We can help you apply for the yearly spousal allowance while probate is moving forward. Often, we can also help you complete a shorter, faster version of probate as a surviving spouse. 

Get in touch with us to start settling your late husband’s estate.

6- Seek Emotional and Practical Support

my husband passed away what do i do

Grieving is a long and personal process. It’s important to seek support from friends, family, and professionals. Consider joining a support group or speaking with a counselor. 

Transitions Grief Care is available to the 8 counties in and surrounding the Raleigh Durham area.

Practical support, such as help with day-to-day tasks or legal matters, can also be invaluable during this time.

Remember, it’s okay to ask for help and to take things one step at a time. By understanding these initial steps, you can begin to manage the practical aspects of your loss while also giving yourself the space to grieve.

We’re here to support you every step of the way.

7- Manage the Distribution of Assets

Depending on the will and state laws, you’ll likely be the one who will distribute your husband’s assets to his beneficiaries. This can include real estate, personal belongings, financial accounts, and other properties.

As estate administration and probate attorneys, we assist in ensuring the probate process is done legally and in accordance with your husband’s wishes.

Our Experienced Estate Administration and Probate Attorneys Can Assist You

my husband passed away what do i do

When you’re navigating the aftermath of your spouse’s passing, handling legal and financial matters can feel overwhelming. Our experienced estate administration and probate attorneys are here to help you through this difficult time, ensuring that you have the support and guidance you need to manage your spouse’s affairs.

Comprehensive Assistance with Legal Matters

The death of a spouse brings numerous legal responsibilities, from obtaining death certificates to settling the estate. Our attorneys will assist you in gathering all necessary documents and filing the appropriate forms with the probate court.

We’ll work closely with you to ensure that all assets, including property titles and retirement accounts, are properly managed and distributed according to the will or state laws.

Guidance on Financial Matters

Dealing with financial matters after your spouse dies can be daunting. You’ll need to inform financial institutions and close accounts, such as credit accounts and loan accounts, in your spouse’s name.

Our attorneys can help you navigate these processes, working with financial professionals like your financial advisor or tax preparer to ensure that all financial aspects are handled correctly. We’ll also assist you in accessing life insurance policies, death benefits, and other benefits that may be due to you as the surviving spouse.

Personalized Care for Your Unique Situation

Every family’s situation is unique, and we’re committed to providing personalized care that addresses your specific needs. Whether you need help with immediate decisions or long-term planning, our attorneys are here to support you.

We’ll work with close family members and friends to ensure that all aspects of your spouse’s estate are handled with care and compassion.

Taking the Next Steps Together

Facing the death of a spouse is never easy, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Our experienced estate administration and probate attorneys are here to guide you every step of the way, providing the support and experience you need to navigate this challenging time.

Together, we can ensure that your spouse’s wishes are honored, and that you have the peace of mind to focus on healing and moving forward.

Reach out to us today to learn more about how we can assist you during this difficult time. We’re here to help you manage the legal and financial responsibilities so that you can focus on what truly matters – taking care of yourself and your family.

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