The information below are items that may need to be addressed when a loved one passes. This is a general list and does not cover all items. For questions and more information please Email Us or call us at 616-887-1761.
Claims should be filed within the month of death or the following month at the nearest Social Security Administration office. Claims for the lump sum death benefit must be filed within two years after death or benefits will not be honored. The is no charge for the Administration’s assistance in the filing of claim papers. The Social Security Administration requires the following information:
- Certified copy of death certificate or Statement of Death (form SSA721).
- Deceased’s employment record for the past year (W-2 form).
- Personal income tax returns (if self-employed).
- If married, marriage certificate.
- Deceased’s Social Security card number.
- Birth certificates of minor children (under 18).
- Proof of age if over 60 (birth certificate or religious record recorded before age 5)
Contact the agents of all insuring companies as soon as possible. Agents will supply the necessary claim forms. All policies should be closely examined with agents – including lapsing policies to check for any extended coverage. Any survivors’ life insurance policies, which name the deceased as the beneficiary, should be changed.
Any titled, automotive vehicle, such as a car, truck or recreational vehicle, becomes a part of the estate when the deceased is the sole owner. For information regarding the transfer of title, contact the local license bureau or an attorney.
When a death occurs, a safety deposit box provides the tight security the name implies. Regardless of whether a safety deposit box is held in the deceased’s name, or jointly, the box may be sealed until an official takes inventory of the contents. Consult the bank regarding legal procedures.
Promptly contact issuing brokers. Stocks and bonds held solely in the deceased’s name must generally be probated; those owned jointly can be transferred to the surviving owner. Contact and attorney for consultation regarding tax problems.
Anyone who was a member of the military at the time of death, or honorably discharged from the military, is subject to a number of benefits, which should be investigated.
- Pension to the widow and minor children.
- Partial reimbursement of funeral expenses.
- Burial in national cemetery.
- Burial flag and grave marker.
- Contact local office of Veteran’s Administration for any additional benefits.
Documentation required for benefits:
- Copy of death certificate.
- Veteran’s discharge papers.
- Itemized funeral bill receipt.
- Marriage certificate.
- Birth certificates of minor children.
Consult your local Administration office about other proofs which may be acceptable.
Inquire about the following benefits:
- Lump sum death payment to surviving spouse or son or daughter entitled to benefits.
- Benefits to widow/widower over 60.
- Benefits to widowed with dependent children.
- Benefits to deceased’s minor children.
- Benefits to disabled widow/widower age 50-60.
- Very rare, but if no widow or children, benefits may be payable to surviving parent, if parent is receiving over 50% support from the deceased.
- If a widow/widower, 60-64, is receiving disability benefits based on his/her own earnings, it may be possible to obtain benefits based on his/her deceased spouse’s earnings.
- Call (800) 772-1213 nationwide for helps with questions about Social Security.
Consult an attorney or your bank to answer any specific questions. A bank account solely in the deceased’s name may require probate action or consent to transfer from a government agency. Some banks may permit a release from smaller accounts for the payment of funeral expenses. Consult an attorney concerning the legalities of a survivor withdrawing from a joint account.
Real estate jointly held by a husband and wife is transferred to the surviving spouse. The services of an attorney- as in all real estate matters-are advisable. Property, which is solely in the deceased’s name, or owned jointly by the deceased and a party other than the surviving spouse, may require probate action whether or not a will exists.
Savings bonds held in the sole name of the deceased must generally be probated. Bonds may be transferred to a named survivor, subject to estate taxes. Consult a tax advisor, banker or attorney.
Consult employers or an attorney regarding the status of retirement plans and survivor benefits. If the deceased was paying into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) – if self-employed or without an employer’s pension plan – the amount in the account will go to the beneficiaries. Consult the agent for the IRA (insurance agent, broker or bank) or an attorney.
Your estate, when evaluated for Federal estate taxes, will probably be much larger than you think. Generally included in your taxable estate are life insurance, real estate, stocks and bonds, personal checking and savings accounts, market value of business interests, household furniture, collections, autos and other tangible property. Be certain to consult an attorney periodically about current federal state and inheritance tax laws.
Other property may be included in your taxable estate such as gifts of property made by you or to you, property in trusts created by you and property in truss for you. Your estate will pay less taxes- and your survivors will receive more of your hard-earned estate-if you plan.