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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.

Social Security
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 following information:
1. Certified copy of death certificate or Statement of Death (form SSA 2872)
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, dependent parent.
~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.
~Medicare

Insurance
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.

Bank Accounts
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
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 matters--are advisable.

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.

Retirement Accounts
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.

Life Insurance
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 of taxes.

Estate Taxes
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.

Wills
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.