Planning can go a long way

May 2, 2014

Over the last two months, two clients have died, and their loved ones found the following to be of assistance at a time of great need. You might want to squirrel this list away with your important papers.

What follows is a checklist of things that need to be done immediately after the death of a loved one and soon thereafter. This is not an exhaustive list. Each situation is unique and your Financial Advisor may be the one person who can coordinate many of the necessary tasks.

1. Name a family spokesman. He/she should contact the funeral home. Before doing so, he/she should find out what the deceased’s wishes were regarding their funeral, or memorial service, and determine if all or part of the decedent’s funeral costs have been prepaid. He/she can refer to agreement documents the deceased may have kept or ask at the funeral home. Also, check with the cemetery to see if the deceased had a pre-paid plot and/or burial insurance. He/she should contact relatives, close friends and the deceased’s employer to let them know what the plans are. He/she will be responsible for a majority of the following. This responsibility may be split among various individuals.

2. Contact newspaper with obituary information. Make sure you include a charitable organization for donations if that is preferred over flowers.

3. Keep track of all donations, flowers, and cards received. Purchase sympathy acknowledgement cards, or use those sometimes supplied by the funeral home and send them to those on the list.

4. Arrange for care of pets, if necessary.

5. Locate the original copy of the will, if there is one.

6. Secure the decedent’s tangible property, such as silverware, dishes, furniture, artwork, etc.. The executor will need to have these items appraised and distributed according to the decedent’s wishes.

7. Contact the decedent’s financial advisors or brokerage firms. Change the registration of investment securities and make sure that if the deceased placed any orders, they are immediately suspended. Arrange for cash flow for family. (May need court authorization.)

8. Pay homeowners, car insurance and real estate taxes that are due immediately to protect assets. Make sure any homeowners or auto insurance policies offer coverage during the probate process and restructure any homeowners, casualty and life insurance policies as necessary.

9. Bills and bequests should be paid from a single checking account, either one the executor establishes, or one set up by an attorney, so that an accurate record of all expenditures can be kept. However, if the executor must pay off the decedent’s debts from his/her own funds, careful records should be kept so that he/she can be reimbursed from the estate.

10. The executor must distribute property to heirs and legatees. Generally executors do not pay out all of the estate assets until the period runs out for creditors to make claims, which can be as long as a year after the date of death. It is a good idea to retain a reserve for unanticipated claims and the cost of closing out the estate.

It is a good idea to retain a reserve for unanticipated claims and the cost of closing out the estate.

Unfortunately, we’re out of space. I will provide the second half in an upcoming edition.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for the individual. Randy Neumann is a financial professional with and securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC.