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Getting a grip on administering your late spouse's estate

When you are in the midst of your grief following a spouse's death, carrying out even the simplest of tasks can be too difficult. You might prefer to stay in bed all day mourning your loss. However, you may be the one tasked with the responsibility of administering the estate.

If you find yourself in this situation, the following tips can help you stay on track and manage the estate properly.

Do these things first to prevent identity theft.

  • Use a tool to punch a hole in the decedent's driver's license, state ID and/or passport.
  • Place a fraud alert on your spouse's Social Security number with all three major credit agencies and run his or her final credit report.
  • Cancel ongoing subscriptions, including digital accounts.

Organize the paperwork.

  • Estate administration is a bit of a paper chase, so it's best to start gathering documents together that the insurance companies and others will need.
  • Keep the primary credit account open for the first few months to be alerted to automatic renewals.
  • Gather together any medical bills, as well as those for your spouse's final expenses.
  • Fill out any forms required by the pension fund administrator.
  • Obtain several certified copies of the death certificate. People usually order fewer than they actually will need.

Turn to professionals for advice and guidance.

Understand that it is fine to admit that you need assistance administering your spouse's estate. Not everyone is cut out to manage these tasks, especially when mired in grief. A Massachusetts estate planning attorney can take over the more onerous tasks that are clearly out of your wheelhouse. He or she will make sure they are done accurately and in a timely manner.

Source: The Balance, "How to Close Affairs After the Loss of a Loved One," Dana Anspach, accessed Dec. 08, 2017

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