Experiencing the loss of a loved one can be a difficult and overwhelming process, especially given the number of formalities to consider and take care of in the aftermath. From dealing with assets and taxes of the deceased to collecting benefits and avoiding overpaying for funeral costs, we’ve got you covered to give you a few less things to worry about.
Here are a few things everyone should know in the event that they lose a loved one:
In terms of taking care of the deceased’s assets, there are a few elements to consider. Many things such as automobiles, bank accounts, insurance policies, and other things may still be under the person’s name. For example, things like bank accounts, credit and debit cards, and insurance policies may need to be altered and modified to ensure the proper situation and circumstance is being covered.
Specifically for bank accounts, a joint bank account will automatically shift the title to the surviving person. However, credit cards that are under the deceased’s name should be cancelled or reissued if shared between multiple people.
If the deceased did not leave a will before he or she died, the law will determine how their assets are distributed. Additionally, all jointly held assets will be distributed to a surviving spouse, if there is one and beneficiaries will receive any insurance policies and retirement accounts upon the death. Assets that were owned solely by the individual will be dealt with by the law, but generally the spouse and children are favored in these types of situations.
What about probate?
Probate is a court-supervised proceeding that authenticates a will, meaning that it ensures all allocations are made properly and any existing wills are validated. This process also notifies all inheritors, beneficiaries and creditors that the will has been probated. As a result of the complexities of the process, the probation of a will typically requires legal assistance.
Benefits / Insurance
In terms of Social Security benefits, you can contact a local Social Security office to see if your loved one was eligible for coverage and entitled to certain benefits. If they are, you or your loved one’s beneficiaries may receive a death benefit from Social Security that can go towards funeral costs. All it takes is a simple application from eligible spouses or children who are entitled to these benefits — and you should be able to apply the benefit towards any burial expenses. Additionally, the surviving spouse could also be entitled to Social Security benefits if they are 60 years of age or older.
Unfortunately, there are certain taxes that need to be paid upon the death of a loved one. Of these include federal estate taxes, state estate taxes, income taxes, and more. Here’s a breakdown of each:
Lastly, there are a few things to consider when thinking about funeral and burial proceedings. Specifically, there are some regulations of the Federal Trade Commission which mandate the following:
If you have issues with a funeral provider that you are unable to resolve with the funeral director, you can contact either your federal, state, or local consumer protection agencies, or the Funeral Service Consumer Assistance Program (FSCAP) (www.funeralservicefoundation.org).