Checklists

Executor Checklist No Comments

Determine Whether the Case Will Go to Probate When probate becomes needed depends frequently on the size of the estate and if there is no existing Will. If assets that are assigned to beneficiaries make up most of the estate, you may not need probate. Some states allow streamlined probate proceedings. No probate is needed if:  All real estate and assets are jointly owned.  All bank accounts are in “payable on death” format with named beneficiaries.  You can transfer funds retirement plans to named beneficiaries.  You can transfer real property to surviving spouse.  You can transfer assets held in trusts to named beneficiaries.   Decide Whether to Hire a Lawyer If the estate has many different types of real estate, significant tax liabilities, or the potential for disputes among inheritors, hiring a lawyer may be a good choice. In most cases, executors are able to handle their duties without a lawyer, especially if the executor is the main beneficiary and doesn’t expect any complications. You can hire a lawyer for two reasons: You’d like the attorney to guide you and answer questions, but still let you do all the work. In that case, it will be helpful for the lawyer to do any research you need and to review documents as you complete them. You’d like the lawyer to do absolutely everything required. The lawyer will be paid, either by charging a flat rate fee at an hourly rate, out of the estate proceeds.   You May Need Additional Help To get help, if you decide not to hire an estate attorney, you can: Ask probate court clerks basic questions about court procedures, but they cannot give you any legal advice. Consult court staff lawyers, if available, to look over all the probate documents. They may notice errors and allow you to fix them and resubmit. They may even tell you how to fix them. Refer to books written for laymen about settling estates. Find a good one that assumes you know nothing about estates, and guides you step-by-step through the entire process.   File the Will and Notify Beneficiaries If there is a Will, you must file a copy with the local court. File the Will — Ask about probate fees. You should ask the court to list you as the responsible person on the documents. Update the Beneficiaries — Provide updates at this time and at regular intervals and milestones. Beneficiaries need copies of the notice of the probate filing. Update the Excluded Relatives — If there are close relatives who are not named in the Will, but would have been beneficiaries if there had NOT been a valid will, it is a good idea to send them a notice, too. Be tactful and considerate. Obtain Copies of Death Certificates — Insurance companies and financial institutions ask for original copies of death certificates to transfer funds and close accounts. Locate Assets — Locate, identify, make an inventory, and provide security for the decedent’s assets. You are responsible for

Post-Funeral Checklist No Comments

When a loved one passes away there are a number of steps that must be taken. Many of these steps involve preparing for the funeral. The funeral service and related celebrations of life are an important way to honor the person who passed away. Unfortunately, after the funeral is over there are still a number of very important tasks that must be completed. This is a checklist created to remind you of details that need to be completed after suffering the death of a loved one. Each item may not apply to you personally, but are helpful to consider. This checklist may offer explanation or help during this difficult time.   Checklist Thank You Notes Complete thank you notes to acknowledge flowers, food, spiritual remembrances, memorial donations or special services.   Finalize Paper with Lawyer Meet with the family lawyer to begin Estate/Trust/Probate details. Give your lawyer a copy of the Will (where appropriate) and certified copies of the death certificate. Probating an estate can become a long process, and it’s best to get it started immediately. Codicil the will. If you have lost your spouse, it may be that you had agreed mutually to dispose of all possessions to each other if one of you were to die. Now that this has occurred, and you are about to receive these assets, you might want to designate new beneficiaries in the case of your death. Set up a meeting with your lawyer to make these adjustments.   Complete Full Notification of Death Complete the full notification of death. Call the deceased’s employer to learn if any death benefits may be due to the family. In many cases, death benefits will be owed from previous employers as well. Contact civic, social, religious organizations, fraternal, U.S. Post Office, voter registration and any subscriptions to remove the deceased’s name.   Clear Social Networks and Subscriptions  Disable social networking sites like Facebook. Contact telephone, cable, utility, newspaper and magazine companies. Transfer accounts where desired and cancel others.   Take Stock and Make a Plan for the Future  Create your unique plan for the future. Complete an advanced funeral plan for yourself with the help of your chosen funeral home director. Also, take the time to organize all your important papers, and remove those papers of the deceased that are no longer pertinent.   Insurance Companies  Contact all relevant insurance companies. Now is the time to apply for benefits, stop or change your coverage. Ask for help from your local agent when filing your claim. Remember to send a copy of the certified death certificate with your claim. Remember, these are basic instructions and the insurance companies may have their own protocol. These insurance companies may request proof and detailed information so be prepared. There are many ways of settling insurance claims. It’s always a good idea to have legal counsel to smooth the process along. Also, funeral directors and insurance agents are often good sources of information. Be thorough and wrap up loose ends

Survivor Checklist No Comments

Death is a trying, emotional issue that everyone encounters eventually. The death of a loved one can be especially taxing on a person’s psyche. Suddenly, a unique person is forever gone from the world. Sadly, when a human being dies, the survivors face a gauntlet of legal matters to attend to, even as they deal with grief, sadness, shock, and all the other crushing emotions. For some of these tasks, a close relative or friend can assist and see them resolved. Others require the attention of the executor or administrator of the estate, who is charged with carrying out the terms of the will.   Checklist Immediately After Death… At this point, some people are shocked at the abrupt death of someone who had been so lively a day before. Others are experiencing some form of relief after watching their loved one suffer for so long. Despite these intense and difficult emotions, there is work to be done. Set about finding the will, and then… Notifying society of the death is an important place to start. Inform the family doctor of the development. Notify the health insurance company or employer in order to end coverage to the deceased and continuing coverage for others on the policy. Notify the Social Security office if the deceased was receiving Social Security payments. If there is a will, contact the executor so they can obtain the probate. If there is no will, elect someone to deal with the deceased’s affairs and contact the Probate Registry in order to apply for letters of administration. Check the will for special requests, and begin the funeral arrangements. Determine if the deceased bought a burial plot at the cemetery. You might desire to buy an adjacent plot for yourself and the family to ensure everyone is buried together. Make a list of friends and family who should be contacted. Allow your immediately available friends and family to help you make the list and contact those nominated. Write and submit an obituary to the local newspaper. Specify if you prefer charitable donations in lieu of flowers, and nominate the organization, if so. The obituary serves as a notice to society, including creditors, of the deceased’s passing. Is the deceased a veteran? If so, he or she might be eligible for free burial at a national cemetery. Even if you choose to bury somewhere else, you might remain eligible to receive payments for funeral and burial expenses. Other benefits from Veterans Affairs might include a ceremonial American flag, headstone, and presidential memorial certificate. Contact Veterans Affairs at 1-800-827-1000 or at http://www.cem.va.gov/bbene/benvba.asp. Record everyone’s donations, flowers, and cards. Keep a guestbook at the funeral, and keep receipts for all travel expenses, which may be tax deductible. Ask for 15-20 copies of the death certificate, as this document is important in administering estates. Ask a neighbor to watch your house during the funeral, as unsavory folk in the past have used newspapers to find people gone from their homes for funerals. Cancel

Estate Planning Checklist No Comments

Estate planning is simply creating a set of instructions on how you want to distribute your money and property when you die. Estate planning is not just for the wealthy. Even the average person may have reason to plan their estate. For example, you need an estate plan if: You have ever purchased life insurance, You have a retirement or savings account, You own your own home…

Funeral Planning Checklist No Comments

Planning a funeral or memorial services involves many factors. You need to cover all your bases to make certain that every aspect ranging from legalities to directives are discussed in detail. Every funeral or memorial service involves the preparation stage. You need to lay the foundation to make certain important people are involved, covered and know what to do. Print up the funeral planning checklist below to make things easier.   Checklist Specify Your Wishes Everyone has desires as to how their funeral or memorial services should be. It is important to remember that your wishes are not legally binding unless they are in writing. Here’s what you need to do: Make a list of all the important people in your life. List them from most important to mentionable. Open up your mind and think about everyone who plays a role in your life. Make a list of your wishes. Do not concern yourself with assigning tasks to anyone at this time. Realize that satisfying your wishes is part of the grieving process. Here is a list of items to consider:  Do you want to be cremated or have a funeral service?  Do you want a burial plot in a particular cemetery?  If cremated, where do you want your ashes to end up? Is it a particular ceremony or location?  Do you want an elaborate life celebration or a quiet, intimate affair?  Think about your eulogy and obituary. Is there anything pertinent you want  mentioned?  How many bearers do you want?  Do you want a viewing?  Can anyone attend your viewing? Who is off limits?  Do you want a religious ceremony?  What kind of funeral do you want? Specify details.  Specify your budget. This prevents overspending during all phases.  Do you want to donate your body to science?  Do you have any unsaid words you would like to say?  Where do you want your flowers to go after the ceremony?   Break Your Wishes Into Specific Tasks Look over your list of wishes. Think about which person best suits the needs. Write that person’s name next to the task. For instance, assign the writer in your list the task of writing your obituary. If you want a religious ceremony, choose a ministry professional to oversee.   Assign Someone as Your Executor This person is usually the one emotionally closest to you. They will ultimately be responsible for setting your estate. Is it your husband, wife or other close family member? Is it the retirement community’s social service representative? Put it in writing on your wish list. Understand that many government entities will not give power to your partner if you are in a same-sex relationship. You will need to do this yourself by assigning the responsibility to your partner in writing. Update and amend your wish list as needed. It is a document in the making. Make a photocopy and distribute it as desired. Keep your wish list with your will.   Prepare a Will A will is the legal