Death is a topic that nobody really wants to talk about, even with the realization that its our ultimate destiny. This reality doesn’t make the aftermath of a loved one’s death any less heartbreaking. At 994 Group, we’ve unfortunately had multiple clients pass, and we’ve learned that the overwhelming logistics of dealing with the death significantly adds to the trauma of loss.
What happens in the aftermath of a loved one’s death? Preparing for a funeral and burial or cremation is only the first of countless steps which can last for months or even years. Notifications to financial institutions including banks, mortgage companies, investment firms, and utilities directing termination or transfer to beneficiaries. Real estate deeds need to be reassigned, even if the property will be sold. Life insurance companies and pension administrators need to be contacted to commence the payment of death benefits. Do you know who to call for these updates or account numbers to reference? What will the institutions require in order to process the update? Is it necessary to go through probate? Where is a copy of the latest will or estate plan? Who is in charge!?
The difficulty of these updates is amplified by the institutions’ varying requirements. A death certificate, power of attorney, and/or other documentation will be required. It can take weeks, or even months during a pandemic, for a death certificate to be processed. If a power of attorney for a representative of the deceased to operate on their behalf posthumously is not prepared in advance, it may be necessary for a probate judge to sign off on new assignments—even in cases in which a will assigning assets to heirs was prepared. What happens if it takes months to get access to accounts, even if you know where to find them?
Mortgages, loans, and other financial obligations must continue to be paid even after death, and failure to do so can cause a default with risk of collections. Could your family afford to pay these costs without access to your funds? Even spouses could experience delays related to account access if not titled jointly.
We strongly encourage all clients to have a current estate plan in place, but after supporting those who have lost loved ones without one, we developed a tool to provide a comprehensive list of necessary account information, contacts, phone numbers, and access information for personal assets and liabilities ranging from bank accounts and real property to social media accounts; we named it The Final Gift. This tool was designed to complement, not replace, a properly executed will or estate plan. It’s one final act of love and compassion so richly deserved by your loved ones. We’re happy to share a free copy; please contact us at Transform@994group.com with your request.
994 Group does not offer legal or tax advice. Please consult the appropriate professional regarding your individual circumstance.