When an employee covered under an employer-sponsored health plan dies, the covered spouse and dependent children need to consider their options for health coverage. If the spouse has an employer health plan available at work, the spouse and any dependents may be eligible to special enroll in that plan. Or, they may be able to special enroll in health coverage through the Marketplace.

The spouse and any dependent children also may be eligible to continue their existing health coverage for up to 36 months. The plan should notify them of their right to purchase extended health care coverage under COBRA. Most plans require eligible individuals to make their COBRA election of coverage within 60 days of the plan's notice.

The premature death of a spouse can undermine efforts for the partner to save for retirement, particularly if there are dependent children. That's why it's important to check your Social Security statement to find out how much children will receive if a parent dies. Maintaining adequate life insurance is also important. Be sure that you have properly named the beneficiaries for any insurance policies, retirement plans, IRAs, and other retirement vehicles.