The death of a close family member is a difficult experience on many levels. Aside from the grieving itself, it seems there is no "pause button" to process the process. No, many decisions and action steps cannot wait.
If you have lost a loved one, then you will want to read a recent article in the Des Moines Register titled "Important financial steps to take following a death."
The article contains a helpful checklist to help guide you through the matters that will need attention.
Here are some of the initial tasks:
- Contact family members, friends, and clergy;
- Make funeral, burial, or cremation arrangements (there may be final wishes detailed in his or her will or estate planning documents);
- Notify family and friends of final arrangements;
- Contact the deceased's workplace, union, and professional and volunteer organizations;
- Talk to your employer about bereavement leave;
- Place an obituary in the local paper;
- Notify your Estate Planning Attorney; and
- Obtain certified copies of the death certificate (needed when applying for benefits and settling the estate).
You should also take a look at your loved one’s financial records to see if you can locate his or her estate planning documents. While you are at it, be sure to collect deeds, insurance policies, titles, marriage certificate (if relevant), birth or adoption certificates of children, and military discharge papers.
Report the death to the Social Security Administration. If your loved one was receiving benefits via direct deposit, ask the bank to return funds received for the month of death and after that to Social Security. Do not cash any Social Security checks received by mail, and return them ASAP.
The original article recommends making a list of assets and placing safeguards on them to protect any property. See to it that the mortgage and insurance payments are paid while the estate is being settled.
Within one or two months after death, you should meet with your estate planning attorney to determine if probate is required and update your estate planning documents.
These are some very valuable steps to keep in mind when a loved one dies. Read the original article for more information. If you have not organized and planned your own estate, then there is no time like the present.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.
For more information about estate planning in Overland Park, KS (and throughout the rest of Kansas and Missouri) and to download free tools to help you organize your estate, visit my estate planning website.
Reference: Des Moines Register (August 19, 2014)"Important financial steps to take following a death"