Paper Work for Widows

I recommend that you get a notebook to write out all the paper work for widows, things that have to be done and people you need to call. Often in the earliest stages of grief we have to deal with a lot of paper work.

Make a list of everyone that you need to contact:

  • Bank representative – mortgage, investments etc.
  • Insurance Agent –   review your own policies
  • Social Security Office – fill out forms for any payments due
  • Financial Adviser  – get some professional advice on investments
  • Your husband’s employer –issue last pay check/insurance
  • Cable company, Hydro, Phone – to change names on the accounts
  • Car or truck registration may need to be update
  • Vehicle insurance needs to be updated
  • Lawyer – your will is now outdated and needs to be redone
  • Funeral Home –you may want to preplan your own funeral
  • Add to this list as you think of other things

Don’t make any hasty decisions about money until you have the knowledge needed to be comfortable with your decision.  Take advantage of all the help that is available.   If there are any financial planning workshops in your area make an effort to go to them.

List all your debts and your assets so that you know exactly where you stand and if you need help go get it.  Your problems will not go away on their own and as you deal with them you will grow more confident in your abilities and knowledge.

Here is a list of how long to keep your papers:

  • Bank statements and canceled checks:  One year after tax filing
  • Birth or adoption certificates:  Forever
  • Contracts:  Until Updated
  • Credit card account numbers:  Until Updated
  • Marriage or Divorce papers:  Forever
  • Real estate deeds:  As long as you own the property
  • Life insurance policies:  Forever
  • Car, home insurance:  Until updated
  • Investment records:  Six years after tax deadline for year of sale
  • Loan agreements:  Until updated
  • Military service records:  Forever
  • Purchase receipts:  One month if on credit card, longer if it’s a gift
  • Service contracts and warranties:  Until sale or discard
  • Social Security Card:  Forever
  • Tax returns:  Six Years
  • Vehicle titles:  Until sale or disposal
  • Will:  Until updated
  • Keep for one year – utility bills, bank/credit card statements.
  • Keep for six years – investments statements, tax returns

Keep all receipts, for big-ticket purchases, with your house insurance policy encase you have to make a claim.

Save insurance policies, deeds, warranties and manuals until they expire or the item is sold. Keep a permanent file for big loans paid off (mortgage, car, personal loans etc). This way you can prove they are paid off if for some reason they were reported to credit bureaus as being unpaid.

Handle your paperwork just once when you receive it – either file it or throw it out.  Every month go through your purchase receipts to match them to your statements and then file until you do your taxes.

Mary Francis, The Sisterhood of Widows

4 Responses

  1. Joyce
    | Reply

    This statement was great!!!
    I usually though receipts out when I get home, this process would save a lot of frustration.

    “Every month go through your purchase receipts to match them to your statements and then file until you do your taxes.”

  2. Jayne
    | Reply

    This is useful information. I will save this. Thanks for sharing.

  3. mary samuels
    | Reply

    I have been doing this throughout the last year. I know I need to do all this, but I feel like I’m erasing him. :'(

  4. Mary Mahlmann
    | Reply

    My husband passed only 4 months ago, but I have felt the same. It is so hard to see his name no longer on documents. As though he never was.

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