Losing a loved one is never an easy thing to go through. It’s an emotionally difficult time, and having to think about managing money is the last thing many of us want to do. But what if you lose a loved one, and you are in charge of managing their assets after they pass?
It can be a daunting task made even more challenging during the grieving process.
Consider taking these three actions to help make managing your loved one’s finances easier:
Obtain multiple copies of the death certificate.
When managing a loved one’s finances, you will need multiple copies of the deceased’s death certificate. Organizations such as government agencies, financial institutions and insurance companies will likely require a death certificate in order to pay out benefits or close an account. Typically, people need between 10 and 25 certificates.
The simplest way to obtain a death certificate is to get it from the funeral home or mortuary at the time of death. If you discover you need a death certificate down the road, you should check with the Office of Vital Records in the state where the deceased passed.
Contact the Social Security Administration.
If the deceased qualified for Social Security benefits, you may be eligible for either death or survivor benefits.
The death benefit is a lump sum of $255 and is paid to the deceased’s family. This benefit will typically be paid to the deceased’s spouse, but if there is no spouse, the deceased’s children, stepchildren or grandchildren may be eligible.
Survivor benefits are a monthly benefit available to widow(er)s, minor children and dependent parent(s) of the deceased. For those who are divorced, it’s possible to be eligible to claim the same benefit of a widow(er) as long as the marriage lasted for longer than 10 years and you haven’t remarried before the age of 60.
Seek legal and financial advice.
If you are the personal representative of an estate, you may benefit from working with an experienced lawyer. While you aren’t required to hire one, their experience can be invaluable. Not only can hiring a lawyer make this difficult task more manageable, he or she can also help make sure that you don’t make any mistakes that could cost you or the estate extra money. Additionally, if you inherit assets after the death of a loved one, a financial advisor can help manage inherited assets in an efficient manner.
In Part I of this series, I discussed strategies to help prepare your finances now in order to make managing your finances after you pass easier for your loved ones. If the unthinkable occurs, advance planning can reduce stress and confusion during a difficult time.