Page 13 - Scene Magazine June 2022 4706
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 Get help with the funeral planning. Line up relatives and friends to be pallbearers if needed. It may be helpful to assign some- one to develop pictures displays or a video for the service, write the obituary, keep a list of well-wishers, write thank-you notes, and to arrange the post-funeral gathering. Keep in mind that people want to be helpful and these are ways they can do just that.
Fortunately, most funeral homes take care of the first and most important notification, Social Security. If the funeral home does not assist with notifying Social Security then you will need to as soon as possible at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800- 325-0778). It is also important to know that another person, such as a spouse, may be eligible for survivors benefits based on their record. Finally, Social Security might be able to pay a one-time payment of $255 to help with funeral expenses. The tasks to receive it take a bit of time but it may be worth it.
Social Security will then take care of notifying Medicare, which includes all levels of care. You can report the death to Medicare directly at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778). You will need the person’s Social Security Number and Medicare Number.
Within a Few Days:
Secure the Property – Lock up the
deceased’s home and vehicle. Ask a friend or relative to water the plants, get the mail and throw out the food in the refrigerator. If there are valuables, such as jewelry or cash, in the home, lock them up. You have to watch out for valuable personal effects walking out as many close and distant family alike may feel they are entitled to certain effects and want to be sure they get them.
Provide Care for Pets – Make sure pets have caretakers until there’s a per- manent plan for them. Send them to stay with a relative who likes animals or board them at a kennel.
Forward Mail – Go to the post office and put in a forwarding order to send the mail to yourself or whoever is working with you to see to the immediate affairs. You don’t want mail piling up at the de- ceased’s home, telegraphing to the world that the property is empty. This is also the first step in finding out what subscriptions, creditors, and other accounts will need to be canceled or paid. The person’s mail is a wealth of information. Going through it is a practical way to see what the person’s assets and bills are. It will help you find out what you need to take care of.
Notify Family Member’s Employer – Ask for information about benefits and any paychecks that may be due. Also inquire about whether there is a compa- ny-wide life insurance policy.
Shortly thereafter and beyond: Secure Certified Copies of Death
Certificates – Get 10 copies or more. You may be surprised what you will need one for. You’re going to need death certificates to close bank and brokerage accounts, to file insurance claims, and to register the death with government agen- cies, among other things. The funeral home you’re working with can get copies on your behalf, or you can order them from the vital statistics office in the state in which the person died.
Find the Will and the Executor
– Your loved one’s survivors need to know where any money, property or belongings will go. Ideally, you talked with your relative before she passed and
she told you where she kept her will. If not, look for the document in a desk, a safety deposit box or wherever she kept important papers. People usually name an executor (the person who will manage the settling of the estate) in their will. The executor needs to be involved in most of the steps going forward. If there isn’t a will, the probate court judge will name an administrator in place of an executor.
Legal Documentation and Steps
– If an attorney helped to create legal documents they can also assist with your next steps. As an example, the reading of a will or the distribution of a trust or other assets. The way that a trust is set up will impact several of the next steps.
If legal documents do not exist con- tacting an attorney that specializes in the execution of a will, or distribution of as- sets can be helpful. While you don’t need an attorney to settle an estate, having one makes things easier. The executor, or the person that will be in charge of clos- ing an estate should pick the attorney.
If your loved one had a CPA, contact them. If not you may want to hire one. The estate may have to file a tax return, and a final tax return will need to be filed on the deceased’s behalf. Getting the tax- es right is an important part of this.
Probate is the legal process of exe- cuting a will. Your attorney will know what steps to take. If you do not have an attor- ney to help act on your behalf, you’ll need to do this at a county or city probate court office. Probate court makes sure that the person’s debts and liabilities are paid and that the remaining assets are transferred to the beneficiaries. Previously setting up a trust may change the way this process works for you.
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