Death of a Loved One
It’s never easy when you lose a close relative. You need time to grieve, time to gather your thoughts, and time to heal. This is not the best time to be making major financial decisions – which is why advance planning can be so important. Still, there will be issues you’ll have to deal with sooner than later, so consider the following guidelines when handling finances, property titles, debts, and more in the wake of a loved one’s passing.
- Avoid making any major financial decisions right away unless you absolutely have to. If you receive an insurance settlement or other payments, park the money in a CD or money market fund until you’re emotionally ready to explore longer-term alternatives.
- Make sure dependents are covered by health insurance. The deceased’s employer can give you details about continuing coverage for up to 36 months under COBRA.
- Bank accounts, credit cards, auto titles, the deed to the family home, and other assets that are in the deceased’s name or jointly held need to be retitled in the survivor’s name. Be prepared to deal with some red tape, such as the need for a death certificate and a signature guarantee from a bank officer for some documents.
- Don’t pay any large debts incurred by the deceased without consulting a lawyer. You could leave yourself short of cash for living expenses or a financial emergency. These debts are generally handled by the executor of the estate, and creditors can wait until the estate is settled.
- Identify and secure financial resources, such as life insurance policy proceeds, a deceased spouse’s 401(k) plan, and veteran’s benefits. If the deceased person was employed, get in touch with the former employer to ask about any money owed to survivors, such as a final paycheck or vacation and sick leave pay.
- Don’t hesitate to seek professional advice regarding your future financial security. Attorneys can help with estate tax returns and many other issues. Your First Midwest Financial Consultant will be here to help you with investment decisions whenever you’re ready.
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