Other Benefits to Check Into: Part 5 of Financial Considerations When You Lose Your Spouse

Updated: Feb 3, 2020

Rabbit holes – you feel as if you, like Alice, are falling into them, tripping over them, being overwhelmed by metaphorical rabbit holes of to-do’s and to-don’t’s as you proceed through this difficult time.

You aren’t trying to be greedy or grasping here, but you want to make sure you receive all the money and benefits you are entitled to as a result of losing your spouse. Some of them are obvious and relatively easy to get going, but today we’ll look at some of the more obscure benefits you might not think of and briefly cover ways to get them. In our series on how to manage finances after the death of a spouse, we’re exploring tips from FINRA, a reliable financial source. Today, Tip 5: Other Benefits to Check Into.

Life Insurance

Term, universal, and whole life insurance pay a benefit after the death of the insured. If your spouse was insured, you will need to find the policy or at least the name of the insurance company and notify them of his death. The amount of time this can take and the number of calls or visits to the insurance agent can be surprisingly high. Insurance payments can be made monthly, quarterly, or yearly, and he may have randomly added in life insurance from different companies over the years, so you want to make sure you don’t miss any policies. Additionally, as discussed below, his place of employment, if he was a full-time, benefitted employee, will probably have covered him for $50,000 in life insurance and he may have been paying for more.

At Work

Check with his employer (probably the HR person, office manager, or benefits admin department depending on how big the company is) and expect to make many calls to get things straightened out. It can be helpful to enlist the help of a friend or to pay a CFP® financial planner to make these calls with you. Besides the company life insurance listed above, there may be unpaid salary and bonuses, vacation or PTO pay, funds in a medical flexible spending account, accidental death insurance, or stock options that are due to you. We’ll discuss the 401(k) in the next article.