Tools and Resources for Surviving Spouses

Losing a spouse or partner can be one of the most difficult events in anyone's life. While you are grieving the loss, you may also need to manage tasks related to financial obligations. We have compiled the following information and resources to help you navigate this challenging period and make the next steps as straightforward as possible.

The financial checklist below is a great starting point to determine a plan of action. It may be helpful to print a copy so you can cross off completed items and make notes to keep track of your progress:


Financial Checklist

First Steps

  • Request 10-12 certified copies of the death certificate
  • Find the will and estate information, and determine the executor/legal representative/administrator and beneficiaries


  • Social Security Administration (SSA)
  • Department of Veterans Affairs (if your spouse served in the military)
  • Human Resources Department at your spouse's employer, and/or spouse's union (if they had one)
  • Insurance: life, health, auto
  • Banks and credit unions
  • Credit Bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion)
  • Pensions and retirement accounts
  • Mortgage broker or property manager


  • Bills and Utilities


  • Online accounts, social media, and email
  • Memberships, subscriptions, prescriptions


  • Debts and assets



Where to Learn More

You can start with Schwab by visiting the Losing a Loved One page on Here, you can easily learn how to notify Schwab of your loss and begin the inheritance process, if applicable. You will also find a link for the Action Plan checklist, which provides detailed steps for inheritors and executors, and the Financial Inventory checklist, which is a comprehensive list of documents needed to settle your loved one's affairs.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau maintains a Help for Surviving Spouses section on their site, covering topics like dealing with your deceased spouse's debt. They also provide guides for couples on preparing for the unexpected and taking inventory of digital assets.

Additional Resources

Credit Bureaus




Social Security Administration (SSA)

Veterans Affairs

VA Main Information Line
800-MYVA411 (698-2411)

VA Benefits Hotline

VA Health Benefits Hotline

Federal Benefits for Veterans, Dependents and Survivors

VA Website