LOSS OF A LOVED ONE
Most of us have known families who've experienced the unexpected death of a loved one. Their emotional struggles were compounded by the numerous decisions that had to be made. While it's not an easy subject to discuss, you should consider the benefits of talking to your loved ones about death-related decisions. Preparing your family for the event of your death, and being prepared to carry out the wishes of other loved ones is comforting and will help you and your family maintain financial stability during a difficult situation. Here are some suggestions to help you plan ahead for yourself or if you want to help plan for another family member.
Make decisions about funeral or memorial services
To begin, you should consider options and discuss preferences with family members. You can then prepare a written list of requests or instructions to be given to appropriate persons or stored where it can be found quickly when needed. A reliable financial advisor can help you prepare for the expenses that accompany these services.
Be aware of legal and financial procedures
Significant paperwork is involved in filing for various benefits and finalizing the estate, following a death. Copies of the death certificate must be given to many offices and agencies. Most families need 10 copies. It is important to store any and all paperwork in a secure location. Provide copies of the originals, and information about the location of the originals, to people selected to deal with the various after-death arrangements. Important papers may include:
- Letters of instruction
- Insurance policies
- Marriage certificate
- Birth certificate
- Social Security number
- Employment information
- Financial records (i.e. income tax returns/statements, bank/loan statements etc.)
Property/estate considerations: Having a will that clearly spells out the distribution of both real and personal property eliminates lengthy and expensive legal proceedings. It also ensures that the deceased's wishes will be carried out. Insurance Policies: Try to gather all the details of insurance plans in a central location. Such policies may include: life, mortgage, auto, and health and disability insurance. Claims should be filed as soon as possible if finances are a concern.
Social Security benefits: If you or your family members are covered by Social Security, survivors may be eligible to receive a death benefit check that can assist with burial expenses. Additional survivor's benefits may also be available for the spouse or dependent children. To get more information on applying for Social Security, you should visit the federal government web site at www.ssa.gov .
Employee Benefits: In the event of death, you should contact the employer of the deceased about possible survivor benefits and collection of payments from life, health, or disability insurance policies that were held. A final paycheck for vacation may be due. If the deceased had retired prior to the time of death, the former employer may need to be contacted regarding the details of the survivor's benefits under the pension plan.
Planning your own after-death arrangements while you are still young and in good health, can help spare your family and friends unnecessary stress when death occurs. Additionally, these plans can also help to lessen the financial burden that your family will face and prevent them from accruing debt while they are in the grieving process.