AFTER A LOVED ONE DIES, their affairs need to be set in order. You might find yourself dealing with life insurance, planning a funeral, paying bills, closing accounts and more. The list of things you need to do after someone dies can seem endless, especially during a time when you are also grieving.
Here is some information that may help
- Get organized.
- Take inventory.
- Determine if probate is needed
- Identify the executor.
- Get a death certificate.
- Contact your financial institutions
- Take a step back.
- Don't make major decisions for a year.
1. Get Organized
Start by making of list of everything you need to do so you can check off the things you have accomplished and make a note of what still needs to be done. Without a list you could start tackling tasks and then forget who you talked to and where you put information or documents. Try a binder a binder, enlist the help of a family member or friend to log emails and phone calls and make a checklist. Taking the time to get organized is really important.
2. Take Inventory
You will need to look at your spouse's Will and estate plan. Gather the documents you will need. If your spouse handled all finances it will be overwhelming figuring out which bills they pay from which accounts. If it is all online, that can make it more challenging to track things down, figure out passwords and find out how to access those accounts.
Tax returns and bank statements can be a good way to locate various types of financial assets.
3. Determine if Probate is needed
It's possible that you can avoid Probate. Assets owned jointly [including personal properly] and assets passed through a beneficiary designation avoid probate. Assets which are titled [such as bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, vehicles and real estate] which were owned solely by the deceased spouse pass to his/her estate. This requires the will to be probated and an executor to be appointed in order to secure the assets. Most states have a threshold in which Probate is needed. Pennsylvania, NJ, MD and Virginia state Probate is not needed if the person passes with no real estate and an estate valued at less than $50,000. Delaware is $30,000. Check your state
4. Identify the Executor
Determine who will handle the Estate. This is the person who will handle the final financial affairs.
5. Get a death certificate
All financial institutions will require one.
6. Notify financial institutions
You will need to inform various institutions that your spouse has passed away. [CPA, attorney, financial advisor, bank, Pension company, life insurance company, etc], if you have one," Brown says. The funeral home will notify Social Security.
7. Take a Step Back
Take the time to process your emotions and grieve with other family members. Make sure your loved ones are OK.
8. Avoid Making Any Major Decisions
Try not to make any major financial decisions for a year, like selling a house or making a lump sum investment. You are emotional and looking for advice. It's easy to get pressured into making a decision that might not be right for you. Give yourself permission to be emotional and not make any decision because you recognize you are grieving and your head isn't clear.