Closing The Estate
Contact the agents of all insuring companies as soon as possible. Agents will supply the necessary claim forms. Most policies will require a certified copy of the death certificate to accompany the claim. All policies should be closely examined with agents -including lapsed policies to check for any extended coverage. Any survivor's life insurance policies, which name the decedent as a beneficiary, should be changed. We can also assist you in the filing of insurance claims.
A bank account in the decedent's name may require probate action or consent to transfer from a government agency. Some banks may permit a release from smaller accounts for the payment of funeral expenses. Usually this can be done quickly via a special request to the local probate. We can assist you with this filing. Safety deposit boxes may be accessible if held jointly or to the decedent's estate executor. Most banks require a certified copy of the death certificate to make changes to ownership.
Stocks & Bonds
Promptly contact issuing brokers. Stocks & bonds held solely in the decedent's name must generally be probated; those owned jointly can be transferred to the surviving owner. Savings bonds held in the sole name of the decedent must generally be probated. Bonds may be transferred to a named survivor, subject to estate taxes. Again, requests may require a certified copy of the death certificate.
Consult employers regarding the status of retirement plans, survivor benefits and claim forms required. The human resource department should be able to help. It is also good to ask if there are any benefits payable on death that were part of the retirement plan. If the decedent was paying into an IRA - if self-employed or without an employer's pension plan - the amount in the account will go to the beneficiaries. Consult the agent, broker or planner handling the IRA.
Your funeral director will notify the social security administration of the death so that they can make any adjustments.
Real Estate jointly held by a husband & wife is automatically transferred to the surviving spouse. Property, which is solely in the decedent's name, or owned jointly by the decedent & a party other than the surviving spouse, may require probate action whether or not a will exists. Consult your attorney for further clarification.
Any titled automotive vehicle, such as a car, truck or recreational vehicle, becomes a part of the estate when the decedent is the sole owner. Contact your Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for information regarding the transfer of a title.
After experiencing the loss of a loved one, families become aware of the many decisions which have to be made in a short period of time. To avoid this for other family members in the future and to make certain their personal wishes are carried out, many people decide to preplan funeral arrangements for other after a death. Pre-funding can reduce any future financial requirements for family members and is an appropriate part of adjusting the estate to support a surviving spouse. There may also be tax benefits to separating the cost of future funeral expenses from the estate at this time.