What Would You Do If Your Spouse Died?

There are few things in life as traumatizing as the death of a spouse.

Whether your spouse passes suddenly, in an accident, or suffers from a long-standing illness, it’s hard to face life without your companion and partner.

And one of the most difficult things to work through is the money.

When you lose a spouse, there are financial implications — especially if you aren’t the primary breadwinner.

While it isn’t pleasant to think about the loss of a spouse, the fact of the matter is that you need to consider the possibility, and come with a plan to ensure that your finances survive the blow.

What are Your Options?

One of the first things you need to do, of course, is make sure that each spouse has enough life insurance to help meet your needs, including needs that crop up after funeral expenses.

In my family, since I am the primary breadwinner, we have a higher amount of coverage in life insurance for me — enough to pay off the mortgage and student and car loan debt, as well as provide some income.  However, we also have my husband covered so that if he should pass, I would be able to pay off my student loans and the car loan, and increase the amount of money going into my son’s 529 plan.

You should also consider other options, though.

Would you be able to take over some of the duties of your spouse?

In my case, I would either need to find the time for yard work, meal prep. four days a week, and laundry, or hire someone else to do it.  If I passed first, though, my husband would have to work out some sort of child care arrangement, and some house cleaning arrangement, since I am also the primary caregiver, since I work from home.

Non-working spouses need to assess their skills.

If your spouse died, would you be able to find work?  This is especially important if your life insurance coverage isn’t going to be enough to provide income for the next decade or two.

It’s also important to realize that there are some cases, such as in the event of suicide, that you might not receive a life insurance payout.  Consider your skills, and your ability to find employment; you might want to continue developing your abilities so that you can get a job later on, if you need to.

Sometimes, your options might include some other actions.

Could you move closer to family in order to get emotional support and child care help?  That might help you save some money — and your sanity.

Additionally, you should also understand how finances work.

Even if you aren’t specifically “in charge” of the budget, you should still know how to create and adhere to a financial plan.  Know about investing, spending, saving and how your finances operate.

This is information you will need to have if your spouse dies.

Waiting until you have to learn, and trying to learn while you are already in a difficult position, can be a recipe for disaster.

In the end, you need to consider the unthinkable, and make a plan.  That way, you will be a little more prepared for what no one can truly prepare for.

What else should you consider in the event of a spouse dying?

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Published or updated December 30, 2014.


  1. It would be devastating! Emotionally, it would be very difficult, but life insurance would replace the income and make it easier to deal with the emotions.

  2. Regrettably, this is one of those things that have to be considered. As I’m the primary income in the household, I’m very well insured.

  3. Although we all know it will happen, we many times ignore the implications to our loved ones peril…. Even terminally ill people will many times ignore the obvious and let the family figure it all out.

    Don’t let the probate judge make your financial decisions! Plan, plan, plan.

  4. This is something that so many people hesitate to think about because of fear or lack of information. It’s also important to have a will so that your wishes are carried out in the way that you want. Knowing that you have a plan in place definitely provides peace of mind.

What Do You Think?