When a spouse dies in Oklahoma the loss is devastating. This time can be a whirlwind of emotions and activity. Even in this challenging time of personal loss, though, there are some essential things to pay attention to. This might begin with final arrangements, such as working with a funeral home for a viewing memorial and making decisions. A whole host of other decisions need to be made as well. Although they do not have to made in hast, finding quiet time to make a checklist of things that need done will make the processes a little bit more barrable.
Check Your Estate Plan
When a spouse dies, even unexpectedly, they may have an estate plan. Many spouses might know something about their partner’s estate planning. Sometimes this estate planning involved a will or a trust, or both. Sometimes there is no will or trust and that is okay too. If they exist, you want the original versions of these documents and a letter of instructions if your spouse left one. In these legal papers, you will find information about whether you or someone else is to serve as the personal representative of your spouse’s estate. If your partner assigned this role to you, several legal responsibilities go with it.
Still other times your spouse may not have a will or you cant find the will. That’s okay, its more common than people expect. In this situation start thinking of the names and relations of al potential heirs and other family members who will need notice of your spouses death. This does not mean that today you have to call them or do anything outside of what you normally do. Just put this information on your checklist.
Get The Death Certificate
This is painful but when a spouse dies you have to order the death certificate. Its among the first things you need to do and it is straight forward. You obtain them from the County Clerk in the county where your spouse lived. Usually it takes a few days and a few calls but you can get it. Sometimes the funeral home you use will help and get it done for you. There is a small charge paid to the clerk. When you order the death certificate you should order 5 or 6 original copies.
Inform Your Spouses Employer
If your spouse was employed at the time they died, you will need to contact the company and inform the human resources department of your spouse’s death. You will probably need to complete some forms to finalize details about retirement and other benefits. If your spouse was self-employed or owned a company, you will need to evaluate the company and determine if it will continue without them and if there is a plan for a successor to take over the operations and continue the company’s business.
Government agencies will also need notice of the death. The Social Security Administration will retire your spouse’s social security number and inform you of any benefits you may be entitled to as a surviving spouse. If your spouse had served in the military, the Veterans Administration will also need to know about the death. Any other agency your spouse had dealings with must be informed of their passing.
Gather Important Documents
As part of resolving the estate of your spouse, you will need to have copies of relevant documents held in their name, such as wills and trusts, insurance policies, investment or retirement accounts, any bank accounts held separately in their name alone, any property holdings or real estate held by your spouse separately, a current credit report, and account statements of any credit cards or lines of credit that your spouse held apart from your common household accounts. Ideally, if your spouse left a letter of instructions or you are familiar with things they owned separately from the marital estate owned in common with you, you will know about any safe deposit boxes and may have records of their computer passwords and access information to important accounts and websites.
Resolving Accounts With Creditors
If you and your spouse kept separate finances to any degree, you will have to determine what needs to be paid that your spouse was responsible for taking care of. If you are not the personal representative of your late spouse’s probate estate, you may not be responsible for this role. Still, your advice and guidance will surely be helpful for the probate administrator and legal counsel.
Tulsa Oklahoma Probate Lawyers
When a spouse dies your world appears as an absolute turmoil. Handling their estate plan is the last thing you think of but is very important. Last wishes of a spouse who has passed on can present complicated legal and personal issues. Experienced estate planning and probate attorneys at Kania Law Office can help to guide you through the process. Call us at 918-743-2233 or contact us online to schedule a Free initial consultation.