Handling Finances After A Loved One’s Death

Handling Finances  

        It is an unfortunate but all too common experience that, even while still dealing with the grief associated with the loss of a loved one, a person will be forced to make important decisions regarding the loved one’s finances.  If not made carefully, these decisions could result in a significant loss of time or money or both.  In this highly stressful situation, it is easy to see how anyone could get overwhelmed.  With this in mind, the following is meant to provide a very broad guide to handling the finances of a loved one after he or she passes.

 

       

   Financial considerations after a death can be broken down into several categories:  

  1. Often, the first bills are the funeral or memorial service, cemetery expenses and anything else associated with the final services.  There may be insurance to take care of this and our funeral home provides several ways for families to take care of the costs.  In order to pay these expenses as they arise, a separate bank account or credit card should be set up so funds are available when needed. 
  2. The deceased’s family must deal with his or her estate and will or trust.  It is important to remember that even if the deceased did not have a will or trust, if he or she left behind any property, there will be an estate that must be handled.  At this stage, a local attorney who knows the property laws of the deceased’s state of residence will almost certainly need to be involved.   
  3. With respect to the deceased’s income and any financial instruments that he or she owned (including a 401(k) and stocks and bonds, etc.), the survivors often notify the various banks and account holders of the death.  If any income or property taxes are owed, these may need to be paid.  The process of handling the deceased’s various accounts can be complicated, but most banks now have financial advisors specially trained to deal with this situation. 
  4. If the deceased left behind any bills – including a mortgage, credit card payments, and any medical expenses not covered by insurance – the creditors are often notified and the expenses will generally need to be paid on time.  If the deceased left behind a number of unpaid expenses, it might be best to seek the help of a financial advisor to budget any proceeds of the deceased’s estate. 
  5. If the death was unexpected, there is usually much more to be done by the survivors. Getting support from other family members and friends is very important during this difficult time. There may also be church, community or volunteer organizations that can help, if not with the financial affairs, at least with the other day-to-day needs that must be met.

 

          These kinds of problems are why more people are choosing to plan ahead even if they will live thirty more years.  It is worth the peace of mind, if they are a single parent or an individual with complicated finances, to have the final arrangements pre-paid and a will in place detailing assets.  The more preparation, the easier it is later for everyone and there will be an assurance that the money goes where the owner wants it to go.

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