In the second part of our series on the topic of things you need to do when a loved one dies, we will explore some of the things that should be addressed within roughly six months of the death of a loved one. Again, these lists are not exhaustive. However, they can help you start to think about the various issues that need to be addressed.
Notify Social Security
Within one month after the death of a loved one, the United States Social Security Administration needs to be informed of their death. They will have to put various processes in motion that stop social security and other benefit payments from continuing. Failure to do so could result in identity theft, or even if liability for repayment of such benefits. Depending on your relationship with the deceased and their benefits, you could also be eligible for survivor benefits that can have a significant positive impact on your everyday life.
Address Financial Concerns
During this time period, you will want to make sure that any financial arrangements you have put into motion as a result of the death have been adhered to. This means you will want to make sure any credit account in the deceased’s name have been closed and that credit monitoring bureaus have placed a hold on issuing credit in the deceased’s name. You will also want to make sure that you have closed any of the deceased’s bank accounts, including online and in-person investment accounts. This may require you to transfer certain assets to you or other heirs depending on the directives of the deceased’s Will or other estate planning documents. You may also want to meet with your experienced estate planning attorney and/or a financial planner to prepare yourself for the potential tax consequences you and/or the deceased’s estate might face.
Facilitate Appraisals and Related Transactions
Depending on the deceased’s assets and how they have elected to distribute them, you may want to have property and other assets appraised to help you have a clear understanding of exactly what you are dealing with. This can give you a sense of your inheritance as well as help facilitate other aspects of the deceased’s Will. This may be especially important when it comes to real estate and other large assets, like cars and boats. If such assets have been left to you, you will need to know exactly what you want to do with them. Having them appraised to gain a better understanding of their value can help you make the most well-informed decisions moving forward.
Assets that you jointly shared with the deceased, specifically those held in joint tenancy, will need to be transferred to your name. This is very important, especially if you want to make modifications to such assets moving forward. If you eventually decide to sell any of these assets, it is also crucial that they be in your name for legal and other purposes. You may also need to remove your name from assets that you shared with the deceased if they are to be distributed to another heir. This will help facilitate such asset transfers more quickly.