Helping You Protect Your Family, Your Assets And Your Legacy

Getting your finances organized after your spouse dies

On Behalf of | May 22, 2023 | Estate Planning

Residents of New York have a lot of organizational work to do immediately after their spouse dies. To protect your finances, it’s important to organize paperwork and make some notifications as soon as possible.


The first step is to collect and organize paperwork. If your spouse left behind an estate plan grab these documents first.

You need to request up to ten original death certificates. Later, you will contact companies and government organizations to notify them of your spouse’s passing and make changes to accounts. You will need these original death certificates for some of the requests you make.

You also need to collect recent tax returns, especially the most recent. Collect bank statements, brokerage statements and any necessary paperwork for financial accounts. If your spouse had veteran discharge papers you will need to find those as well.

Use the tax return to see if there are accounts you missed. This document often includes information you may have overlooked. Then find the statements you need for those accounts.


You have likely been named the executor of your late spouse’s will. However, this will need to be officially approved by the probate court.

You will need to notify your spouse’s employer of their passing. You will also need to notify the IRS, the Social Security office and the Department of Motor Vehicles. Additionally, you’ll need to notify any financial institutions. The paperwork you previously collected makes this easier.

As the representative of your spouse’s estate, it will be your fiduciary duty to pay creditors and debts owed before you distribute assets to named beneficiaries. The first step to handling this task will be to go through the paperwork and create a detailed inventory.

Handling your spouse’s estate is a lot of work, especially as you navigate difficult emotions. Create a carefully organized plan and takes things one step at a time.