What professionals do I need to contact to start the estate process?
Your attorney should be the first professional you contact, because he has a copy of the will or trust document. The financial planner or accountant can help you with the taxes and other financial help that you need. In addition, the insurance company should be contacted to begin receiving insurance proceeds.
What if there is no will?
Check with your county Probate Court for requirements.
What if I don't know any attorneys?
Ask a friend or professional advisor for the names of estate attorneys. Take someone with you to interview the attorney and ask for references.
How do I find an accountant or financial planner?
Ask friends or your estate attorney for names of financial planner. Make sure that the financial planner works on a fee only basis. Beware of financial planners who sell financial products, such as insurance or annuities.
What documents are needed to receive benefits?
You need a copy of the will or trust documents, husband's birth certificate, your marriage license, husband's death certificate, husband's social security number, and life insurance policy.
How do I contact Social Security?
Go to the nearest office or contact them online.
What if I can't find the life insurance policies?
The American Council of Life Insurance gives hints on how to check for policies.
What if my husband was a veteran?
Contact the Department of Veteran's Affairs.
Do I need to take my husband's name off the bank account?
No, it is a good idea the keep his name on the account during the first year, so you can deposit any checks you receive in his name.
Should I change names on my credit cards right away?
No, keep the credit cards in both of your names for some time.
Are there people I can talk with about my loss?
Yes. Check with your pastor or women's ministry director at your church. Many churches have groups for widows to share their experiences. Also, look for GriefShare in your area. Look online at griefshare.org for groups near you. Family and Marriage Therapists can also be helpful in dealing with loss.
Where else can I turn for additional resources?
Additional resources are often listed by hospitals, hospice groups, funeral homes, and senior centers.