Page 19 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - March 2017 - 24-03
P. 19

Senior Times - March 2017
Page 19
Losing a loved one is an emotional and stressful time. There are family and friends to contact, decisions to be made regarding the funeral arrangements, as well as legal and financial obligations to be considered. The best way to approach this is to take things slowly and one step at a time. For the first several days one will be consumed by making funeral arrangements, being present at the ceremonies and attending
to the many family and friends who have gathered to share their condolences. It is after these events have transpired and everyone has gone back to their respective homes that the other side of the loss arises, dealing with the legal and financial issues.
In some instances, the family may have been expecting the death; the individual may have been under hospice care and some pre-planning of their final wishes has taken place. However, many times the death is sudden and unexpected, and nothing has been discussed or planned. In either scenario, the reality of the death and the emotions that follow make it all the more troubling to deal with the legal and financial issues at hand.
The first thing that needs to be done is to obtain certified copies of the death certificate.
Your funeral director will assist you in getting these and you will want to order several more than you think that you may need for reasons that follow. The certified copies will be needed for life insurance, pension benefits, bank accounts, IRA’s and other investment accounts, as well as vehicle titles and deeds just to name a few.
Once you have the death certificates in hand it is a good idea to gather all the pertinent financial information in one place such as:
• Copy of will and/or trust
• Life insurance policies
• Health insurance information
including Medicare
• Automobile insurance information/
loan statement
• Credit card statements
• Investment accounts such as
IRA’s, 401K, Mutual Funds,
pension information
• Copy of most recent checking
and savings account statements • CD and Money Market
accounts statements
• Most recent mortgage statement
if there is one
• Last two years of income tax returns • Marriage and birth certificates
• Social Security statement
• Medicare statements
This sounds overwhelming but it will
simplify the process if you have all these items, or at least a list of them in a file.
Now the work of contacting each of these parties either by phone or mail begins.
If there is a will or trust in place a phone call to the attorney that prepared the document will greatly ease your burden, however, not everyone has taken these steps in advance.
Many of the items on your list can
be handled by one contact, such as the insurances and investment accounts. You will want to notify all financial institutions as well as government agencies such as
Social Security. Your funeral director should notify Social Security of the death however; the next of kin is responsible for applying for the lump sum survivor’s benefit, which is payable to the surviving spouse if applicable. Also there may be ongoing monthly benefits for the surviving spouse and children so you will want to talk to them directly.
Another thing to consider is to cancel any subscriptions, memberships or services that are no longer needed. If married transfer all utilities into the name of surviving spouse and pay any final bills including property taxes and income taxes.
Be aware of the possibility of identity theft. When cleaning out a loved
one’s home, don’t toss documents,
but shred them.
Dealing with the death of a loved one is stressful enough. But not knowing what to do with someone’s finances after the person has passed away poses an additional burden on a grieving family. Ideally we would all have a list compiled of these items and kept in a safe place for our family.
Publisher’s note: When dealing with the loss of a loved one it is difficult to know how to respond when well-wishers ask if there
is anything they can do. Let me take this opportunity to turn this scenario around and put the burden on the well-wisher. Come to your friend or loved one with suggestions rather than an, “If you need anything.” Most times they are too consumed by just the little things they must get done to keep moving forward in this thing called life to quickly create a meaningful way for you to help. Come prepared and ease their burden just a bit more.
Danford M. Byrens
Financial Representative 269-441-1444
Before investing, you should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses. We can help you with those decisions. We are qualified financial advisors. Give us a call.
15 Capital Ave NE Ste 104 | Battle Creek, MI 49017 |
Securities offered through Harbour Investments, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC
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