Thursday, May 27, 2010

Things to Do When a Loved One Dies*

Do you have a revocable living trust?  If so, your Successor Trustees might appreciate the practical suggestions contained in this article.  These are some things to consider in the first few weeks of the administration of a Living Trust after death.

If a residence will be vacant for an extended time, your Successor Trustees should:
  • Consider changing locks
  • Remove valuables from the residence and store them safely
  • Install an inexpensive security system with a motion detector which will dial out if there is motion
  • Arrange for mail to be forwarded
  • Discontinue phone, cable, and internet service, etc.
  • Advise the property and casualty insurance agent that the residence will be vacant and make appropriate arrangements for insurance
  • If title to the property is in trust, name the trust as the insured on the property and casualty insurance policy.
Successor Trustees should determine the immediate cash needs for any beneficiary and identify accounts where cash is available.  They should also determine if any immediate expense must be paid, but should be advised to not make payments without first discussing it with the attorney.  

Successor Trustees should cancel charge accounts, credit cards, and magazine subscriptions and ask for refunds, if applicable.

They should make certain that property and casualty insurance coverage continues on personal effects, automobiles, real estate and any goods in storage.  If any of these items are titled in the name of the Trust, the Trust should be the named insured.  

Trustees or beneficiaries of a safe deposit box should not remove the contents, but rather the box should be inventoried in the presence of a bank officer and only then should contents be removed. 

Personal and financial records, including: checkbooks, statements, tax returns, and insurance policies should be collected.  Individuals who owe money to the deceased should be contacted and arrangements made for continued collection.

The Social Security and Veterans Administration (if applicable) should be contacted and advised of the death.

Social Security or Pension checks received after the date of death should be held.  If direct deposit to an account is used, the deposit should be noted and the attorney informed.

The successors or trustees will want to decide about the employment of domestic help, security guards, or any other type of assistance that might be required for a dependent beneficiary.

Your successor must be prepared to demonstrate to third parties that they are in fact authorized to act on behalf of the Trust or Estate.  The attorney will be able to provide documentation.

As I mentioned before, these are just a few of the things that need to be done after a loved one dies.  It is important for your successors to hire and work with an experienced estates attorney to efficiently and properly administer your estate in order to make sure all your wishes are followed.

I hope you find these little details helpful and that you share them with your successors and loved ones.

*Adapted from The Planning Partners Press

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