Things you should know...
The Death of a Loved One
The time immediately following the death of a loved one can be days
of intense sorrow and emotional stress. During this time, the family
must make a number of difficult decisions.
The Funeral Director can instruct and guide the
family through the difficult problems of this trying time--and with
his knowledge and experience, he can sympathetically relieve the family
of needless concerns.
The Funeral director handles the details associated
with the death certificate and the burial permit. He can obtain additional
copies of the death certificate, which may be required for setting claims.
Claims should be filed as soon as possible at the nearest social Security
Administration office. claims must be filed within two years after death
or benefits will not honored. There is no charge for the Administration's
assistance in the filing of claim papers.
The Social Security Administration requires the
1. Certified copy of death certificate or Statement of Death (form SSA
2. Decedent's employment record for the past year (W-2 form).
3. Personal income tax returns (if self-employed)
4. If married, marriage certificate.
5. Decedent's Social Security card number.
6. Birth certificates of minor children (under 19).
7. Proof of age if over 60 (birth certificate or religious record).
Note: Consult your local Administration office about other proofs which
may be acceptable.
Inquire about the following benefits: Lump sum
death payment to surviving spouse or son or daughter entitled to benefits.
~Life pension to widow over 60.
~Pension to widowed with dependent children.
~Pension to decedent's minor children.
~Very rare, but if no widow or children, pension may be payable to surviving,
~If a widow, 60-64, is receiving disability payments based on her own
earnings, it may be possible to obtain benefits based on her deceased husband's earnings.
Contact the agents of all insuring companies as soon as possible. Agents
will supply the necessary claim forms.
All policies should be closely examined with
agents-including lapsed policies to check for any extended coverage.
Any survivors' life insurance policies, which name the decedent as a
beneficiary, should be changed.
Consult an attorney or your bank to answer any specific questions. A
bank account solely in the decedent's name may require probate action
or a consent to transfer from a government agency. some banks may permit
a release from smaller accounts for the payment of funeral expenses.
consult an attorney concerning the legalities of a survivor withdrawing
from a joint account.
Real estate jointly held by a husband and wife is transferred to the
surviving spouse. The services of an attorney--as in all real estate
Property, which is solely in the decedent's name,
or owned jointly by the decedent and a part other than the surviving
spouse, may require probate action whether or not a will exists.
Consult employers or an attorney regarding the status of retirement
plans and survivor benefits.
If the decedent was paying into an Individual
Account (IRA)--if self-employed or without an employer's pension plan--the
amount in the account will go to the beneficiaries. Consult the agent
for the IRA (insurance agent, broker or bank) or an attorney.
If your family is to receive the full benefit from your life insurance
program, insurance coverage should be regularly updated and coordinated
with your plans for distributing property and other assets. Life insurance
provides an estate with a ready source of cash required for the payment
of estate taxes--and can eliminate the need to sell assets for payment
Your estate, when evaluated for Federal estate taxes, will probably
be much larger than you think. Generally included in your taxable estate
are life insurance, real estate, stocks and bonds, personal checking
and savings accounts, market value of business interests, household
furniture, collections, autos and other tangible property. Be certain
to consult an attorney periodically about current federal and state
inheritance tax laws.
Your estate will pay less taxes, and your survivors
will receive more of your hard-earned estate, if you PLAN.
Estate taxes can be reduced significantly if the decedent has prepared
a well-conceived will through an attorney. Also, your property and the
savings of a lifetime can be given to the people you select and you
can provide for the preservation of family heirlooms and for the continuation
of a business.