REPORTING DEATH OF SPOUSE ABROAD
* Federal Benefits Unit at +49-6990-555-1100.
* Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System at 800-538-9552.
* Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) at 800-827-1000 for military retirees receiving disability compensation.
* Office of Personnel Management at 888-767-6738 if the member was a current or retired federal civilian employee.
* VA at 800-669-8477 for retirees enrolled in a VA-sponsored life insurance policy, such as National Service Life Insurance.
* Office of Servicemember's Group Life Insurance at 800-419-1473 for retirees enrolled in Veteran's Group Life Insurance.
In the event when a spouse passes away, retirees should review and update all their documents and accounts. Be sure to update beneficiaries to any accounts or life insurance policies.
Here are some recommended steps to help assist with your personal affairs.
1. Make funeral arrangements
Did your spouse purchase a cemetery plot or make other pre-arrangements? If not, you will need to select a funeral home. In either case, you will need to meet with the funeral director. Be sure to obtain multiple copies of the death certificate from the funeral home.
2. DEERS ID Card
Contact the local DEERS ID Card office to update your record. An original copy of the death certificate is required.
3. Update insurance policies
In most cases, spouses are listed as a beneficiary to a retiree’s life insurance. Make sure to update your beneficiary to all your insurance policies.
4. Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP)
If you elected SBP at the time of retirement contact DFAS or your local Retirement Services Officer so that you can suspend your premiums payments.
5. Contact Spouse’s Current and Past Employer
If your spouse was employed at the time of death, you may be eligible for group life or accident insurance benefits, depending on the cause of death. In addition, there may be retiree life insurance in force. You may also be entitled to a lump sum or monthly payment from the company pension plan or other savings plans. Contact previous employers if you think there could be accrued pensions that were never paid out.
6. File Life Insurance Claims
If you are the beneficiary to any life insurance, contact the life insurance companies to make a claim. They will request a copy of the death certificate and other documentation to validate your claim.
7. Contact Banks, Credit Unions, etc…
You will continue to have access to joint bank accounts. Any account in your spouse’s name alone typically will not be accessible to the executor (who may be you, as noted above) until the will is probated. However, if there was money in your spouse’s account, the bank will likely advance funds to pay for the funeral if you present a bill.
8. Close Other Accounts
To help prevent fraud, provincial health insurance coverage must be cancelled. Turn in your spouse’s driver’s license to the closest Ministry of Transportation Office along with a copy of the death certificate. Close credit card and other charge accounts, and take your spouse’s name off joint cards and accounts. Contact appropriate government offices regarding your spouse’s social insurance card and passport.
9. Wills and Powers of Attorney
Review your will and power of attorney. If changes are necessary, have your lawyer prepare new documents for your signature.
10. Review your Real Estate
If you and your spouse owned your home jointly, you will retain full ownership and the value of the property will not form part of the estate for probate purposes. However, ask your lawyer whether you need to transfer it into your name as sole owner. If you want or need to downsize, don’t rush. Try to delay this decision until you are emotionally and physically ready.
11. Preserve your Assets
If your spouse dies, you may become a target for fraud artists who is less interested in your wellbeing than your money. Ask for time to think over any financial proposals and discuss them with your advisors. And when you are ready for romance again, consider having your lawyer draw up a pre-nuptial agreement that will protect you and your heirs, before you take the plunge and remarry.