When your spouse dies, there are many items you need to address. Your to-do list grows daily. But your emotions may limit what you can handle at the time.

Set priorities on which tasks are important and which tasks can wait until a later time. Ask yourself, “how will this impact me if I don’t address this item now?”

Finances may be the last thing on your list. But there are two very important items you need to address sooner rather than later.


1- Notify your banks and other financial institutions.

For all your financial accounts, notify the financial institutions of the death of your spouse. The reason this step is important is to make sure you have access to money.

If you’ve been involved with managing your household finances, then you’ll know which financial institutions to contact. Make a list and go through it one by one.

If it’s too much to handle, ask a family member to help you. But know you may need to be on the phone or go to the office in person, as you’ll need to provide information for security reasons.

If you haven’t been involved with your finances, then start by going to your financial advisor. If you can’t remember the name of your financial advisor, look at the top of your most recent financial statement.

If you don’t have a financial advisor, look for bank statements. Your spouse may have received these items electronically.

Another place to look is wherever your spouse keeps tax records. Your financial statements would have been needed for tax filings and your spouse may have kept these documents together.


2- Pay bills.

List all bills that need to be paid. The reason this step is important is to avoid late charges and accrued finance charges, as well as to keep your utilities on in your home.

Start with all expenses relating to your home. Your spouse may have a list of these items. You can also look for paper statements or emails with payment reminders.

Some expenses may be set-up on autopay. Your statement or email reminder will note it you’re set up on autopay.

Here is a list of home expenses to begin:

mortgage or rent

home equity line

homeowner association fee

home insurance (it may be included in your mortgage payment)

property taxes (it may be included in your mortgage payment)









pool care

pest control (termite may be separate)

Next, look for vehicle expenses such as car payment and auto insurance.

After those items, look for credit card payments and other debt that require monthly payments. Your credit card statements will help you identify other ongoing expenses setup on autopay.

As you’re going through this list of expenses, make sure you have your medical, dental and vision insurance paid current.

After your spouse dies, there are so many items to take care of while working through your emotions. It’s easy to put things off, but you do need to address your access to money and payment of bills sooner rather than later. For a more comprehensive list of items to address see our post “What to Do When Your Spouse Dies.

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Niv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, RICP®,CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include developing spending plans, comprehensive financial plans, divorce financial reviews, retirement plans. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me.’”