Prevent Against Financial Woes After a Spouse Dies

Losing a spouse is only the beginning of what could be a long and emotionally draining process that also requires attention to your finances.

Many married couples rely on one person to handle the family finances. Often the other spouse is left in the dark, which is why experts say it is vital that both spouses are aware of all family debts.

Even more important, they insist, is making sure that in this technological age, both spouses have access to all computer passwords. When one spouse dies, especially the one who has been handling the finances, the other needs to gain access to various accounts to maintain bill payment and to pay off any creditors. Experts advise that all passwords and pass codes are written down with notations as to the account to which they belong. They should be kept in a secure place, such as a home safe. Without a login and password, it would be virtually impossible for the surviving spouse to gain access to an online account.

Other information should also put in a safe place, including:

  • E-mail addresses
  • Cell phone numbers
  • Social Security cards
  • Life insurance papers
  • Investment portfolios
  • Bank information

Experts also suggest that spouses understand the financial ramifications in the event one should die. Credit card debt, for instance, will go to the grave along with the deceased spouse unless the two had joint accounts. But in some states, such as Texas, both spouses are on the hook for what is seen as community property. This is any property, including autos, that was acquired during the marriage.