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Investing Specialists

A Checklist for Surviving Spouses

These nine steps can help ease a very painful transition.

The death of a spouse is one of the most traumatic events people can face in their lifetimes. Unfortunately, the pain is often compounded by the plethora of financial and administrative tasks that typically face surviving spouses. If the surviving spouse has taken a hands-off approach to the family's financial affairs prior to this point, this transition period can be even more stressful and drawn-out.

In a previous column, I wrote about what your spouse must know about the household finances, even if he or she isn't the main financial decision-maker. I've also written about how to widow-proof (or widower-proof) your portfolio so it can run itself for a period of time if need be.

The nine steps outlined below can help surviving spouses prioritize the many financial tasks and decisions that might confront them after losing their partners.