Losing a family member or loved one is overwhelming. In addition to navigating emotional pain, you may also suddenly face a long list of tasks to handle in the wake of their passing. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take that can help ease your stress. Following this checklist can help you navigate this difficult transition.
1. Review all estate planning documents.
It’s important to gather your loved one’s documents and review them together beforehand, if you’re able to do so. This may also provide clarity for certain pieces of information. These documents can include:
- Medical directives
- Life insurance policies
- Retirement accounts
As you look over these documents, make sure your loved one’s executor is ready and able to perform their duties. If they’re not, you may want to consider making a change. Your loved one’s life insurance policy may also provide an accelerated death benefit, which could help you keep them comfortable and cared for, in addition to covering funeral expenses. An estate planning professional can help you navigate these choices.
Gathering these documents can seem like a draining process, so consider simply taking it one step at a time. Consult with your loved one’s estate attorney or financial advisor to make sure that you have up-to-date copies of their documents. You may also want to check on potential benefits, like social security, and debts, like a mortgage, that will need to be addressed upon their death. As you research, it’s helpful to have your loved one’s birth certificate, SSN, or other important documentation handy.
2. Gain access to their financial accounts.
It can be very difficult to gain access to someone’s accounts after they’ve passed away, so it’s a good idea to have this discussion with your loved one as early as possible. In many cases, you may need court authorization, so keep in mind this may delay the process. If your loved one has online access to their accounts, you may consider asking for their passwords and keeping those filed away in a secure location.
Financial accounts are typically frozen after someone passes away, so be aware that you likely won’t be able to move or withdraw funds. However, an authorized representative or executor will help distribute assets according to estate planning documents. But knowing your loved one’s financial situation in advance can be incredibly helpful.
3. Prepare for end-of-life expenses.
Whether your loved one needs hospice or palliative care, or you find yourself needing to plan for funeral costs, it’s important to get a clear picture of upcoming expenses to the best of your ability. Talk with your loved one about their final wishes and funeral plans so that you’re fully aware of their requests and there aren’t any surprises.
Funerals can cost up to $11,0001 on average, depending on your loved one’s final wishes. In some situations, you can prepay for funeral costs or use money from a designated life insurance payout. However, not all policies provide immediate funding for this, so it is crucial that you read your loved one’s documents carefully.
The funeral home will also likely be the place to issue your loved one’s death certificate. We recommend you order multiple copies, since you’ll likely need to provide certified documentation to manage any of the above assets.
Even in the most challenging moments of life, SageSpring is here for you. If you need help navigating this season as a caretaker, connect with an advisor in your area today. We would be honored to walk this journey with you.
While we are familiar with the legal issues presented here, as Financial Advisors of RJFS, we do not provide tax or legal advice. You should discuss tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional.
The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete, it is not a statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision, and it does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of SageSpring Wealth Partners and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice.