Death of a spouse – things to consider:

 Call Social Security if receiving benefits-1-800-772-1213

o Should get a death benefit check of $255

o Cancel spouse benefit

o Or get spouse benefit if larger than your own

 Call MetLife and any other life insurance company based on policies-Group Life Insurance

For questions about your MetLife insurance policy or to speak with a representative call:


Monday - Friday 08:00 AM - 11:00 PM EST


MetLife National Benefits Center

P.O. Box 14406

Lexington, Kentucky 40511

o Most Cat retirees have a life insurance policy

 Call Hewitt-1-877-228-4010

o Stop Cat pension check

o Or have reduced pension check if approved at retirement and not changed

o Stop supplemental insurance if currently receiving

o Ask about Cat stock or financial info if left at Cat and not transferred to financial advisor at retirement

 Call OneExchange(if on Cat supplemental plan)- 1-866-766-6087

o Advise of death and ask how to handle final hospital/doctor bill payments

 Check with banks on life insurance or payment cancellation upon death

 Need for death certificates

o The need to transfer cars, houses, bank accounts, financial accts, etc require “original” death certificates although some only need a copy. Cost at time is about $15 each and could be as much as $100-$150 each at a later date

 Contact financial rep if 401K’s, annuities, etc.

o Find out options on what is taxable and not and what is available immediately

 Find your will or contact your lawyer for a copy

 Check for any bank safe deposit boxes

Here is a list I found that is more generic but may be of help in timing of getting things settled.

What to Do When Your Spouse Dies: A Checklist For the First Year

By Marilyn McWilliams, JD

All marriages end – either in divorce, or someday when “death do us part.” When this inevitable and sad time comes, a widowed spouse may feel in a rush do everything – settle the bank accounts, file the will, make a plan.  But, in fact, the surviving spouse is often best served taking things slowly and carefully. 

Here’s a timeline of things to do within the first year:

As the shock and emotions settle in, remember that there’s not too much you need to do immediately.  You simply must:

•    Locate – but not necessarily go through – key documents: your marriage license, birth certificates for yourself and minor children, a will, bank records, insurance policies, and military records;
•    Notify friends and family;
•    Stack and store incoming mail – but don’t go through it;
•    Make funeral arrangements, if desired; and
•    Call you or your spouse’s health insurance company (or Medicare) to find out about coverage for you and your minor children; and
•    If there is a will, within ten days of the death, file (or lodge) the will within the County District Court where the deceased lived.*

Within the first month

•    Get state-certified copies of the death certificate;
•    Inform Social Security (if relevant) and/or any organization distributing defined benefits (such as the VA or an employer offering a pension) of your spouse’s death;
•    Apply for life insurance, VA, Social Security, pension or other relevant benefits;
•    Pay essential bills such as your mortgage or rent and insurances, but defer any large expenses; and
•    Plan a six-month budget.

Within six months

•    Identify and catalog your assets;
•    Work with an accountant, financial planner or lawyer to complete a financial plan;
•    If there is a trust, work with an attorney to begin administering the trust.
•    Consider reducing your living expenses but, if possible, delay any move for a year;
•    Consider joining a 
support group or obtaining grief counseling for yourself and your children;
•    Work with an accountant to understand – and file- your spouse’s tax returns; and
•    Understand if you need to pay estate tax.
•    Work with your attorney to understand if any assets should be disclaimed.

Within nine months

•    Ensure any federal and inheritance tax returns are filed; and
•    File any disclaimers.

At one year
•    Make sure your own 
estate planning is complete; and
•    If necessary, get life insurance to protect your children.

*The initial paperwork to probate an estate can be filed six days after the decedent’s death. You have up to three years to initiate the probate process

Two additional links that might help:

Checklist 1

Checklist 2