Preparing in advance will smooth the path for the spouse who is left behind.
The Importance of a Will
Before I share some of the legal steps to take when a spouse dies, I want to discuss the importance of having a will. As I have illustrated on all my platforms: my website, newsletters, videos and articles, preparing a will and a continuing power of attorney is a crucial step to take for your future. Planning ahead will allow you to guard your personal interests if you lose your ability to make decisions for yourself, and to establish what you would like to do with your assets after your death.
In recent months I’ve had quite a few new, younger clients, who’ve realized that there is no age too young to have these important documents prepared. Case in point, is the preventable tragedy that has befallen young Eitan Biran whose parents, brother and great grandparents died in a tragic accident.
I automatically make a will for my divorce clients. The importance of having such a document cannot be overstated when one starts a new chapter in their lives, especially if it includes a new partner.
You don’t need an attorney to make a will. But, I do recommend you consult with one even if you’ve decided to go it alone. Here are some basic guidelines for writing your own will.
Don’t Forget the Joint Bank Account
I want to add one more point regarding bank accounts, before we get to the steps to take after a loved one dies. In light of recent experiences we’ve had in our office, I strongly recommend that spouses who have a joint account, arrange with their bank to sign a “arichut yamim” or “long life’ document. This will prevent the freezing of the joint account, thereby preventing the remaining spouse access to the funds for funeral expenses and the like.
Before your spouse dies, it’s wise to check on their pension funds and if they have more than one, which is often the case. In order to see where all the pension funds are located, you can go into the government website https://itur.mof.gov.il/#/main/home?org=shuk. For 20 NIS, you have access to a complete list. Please note that this can’t be done after a person passes away.
After Your Spouse Has Died
After your spouse dies, in order to be able to divide his or her property, an inheritance order must be presented regardless of whether or not there is a will. So one of the first things you need to do is get the death certificate.
The bank or pension accounts that exist, but are not active, can be found on the “Har Hakesef” website https://itur-mof.org.il/. You can access this list up to 10 times and even after death. This will give you the information you need in order to find out if their pension can be transferred to your place of work if your spouse died before receiving it.
Another government site you should be familiar with is the “Har HaBituach” website https://harb.cma.gov.il/. This site allows you to find all types of insurance. You’ll see the insured company, the policy number, its cost and more. In order to receive the details of the policy and the amount of coverage, the site refers to the personal area with each of the insurance companies. This information can also be obtained for a deceased person. Once you determine if the deceased had life insurance you’ll be able to find out how to claim the funds.
The remaining spouse needs to go to Social Security to request a residual end or a residual grant.
If your spouse died in a nursing home be sure to check with their administration office to ask if there are any remaining funds that were deposited when your spouse took up residence there.