Life insurance jumps to mind when discussing death, but during the planning phase, you will need to address all other insurance: Home owner's/renter's insurance; liability insurance; auto, motorcycle, RV and boat insurance; and health insurance.
The proceeds of a life insurance policy do not become part of the deceased's estate, but rather are paid to the listed beneficiary. And, in many states, the spouse of the deceased is automatically the beneficiary, unless he/she has given written agreement otherwise. Whether it is a separate policy that you have paid for yourself or one that has been taken through your employer's benefits offering, remember to:
I cannot reiterate how important this last point is. Before my friend passed, she made her ex-husband the beneficiary of one of her IRA accounts. The problem was that he had predeceased her by about 15 years, and the bank wanted a copy of his death certificate. He had a common name - along the lines of 'John Smith' - so looking for the information in the public records would have been a challenge. I was very lucky in that she had saved one copy of his death certificate with her insurance papers in her personal files. That death certificate saved the estate (and me) time, money and legal issues.
Speak to the insurance representative and explain the situation before any changes or transfers are made. They will be able to provide specific alternatives to address individual circumstances.
All assets, including real property and its contents, become part of the estate upon the owner's death. If you are living in a rental property, the rental property itself does not become part of the estate, but its contents do. And, in many metropolitan areas, the risk of theft and/or vandalism increases once the obituary is published.
For all of these reasons, the home owner's and rental property insurance need to be maintained until these assets have either been liquidated or distributed to the designated beneficiary to protect the assets.
This hold true for liability insurance, which is frequently included in both home owner and rental insurance. If the property is still being used by a family member after a person's death, there will continue to be visitors and deliveries, which opens the possibility and potential for injury and liability lawsuits.
As with life insurance, remember to apply the same discipline in your documentation of insurance policies for Home Owner's, Renter's, and Liability insurance:
Also, for all of the insurance policies, speak with the lawyer to ensure that the estate will continue to pay the premiums during the period in which the estate is being settled. If possible, this should be included in the will.
These items are valuable assets of the estate. Any of these can be stolen, and like the house - if someone else is entitled to use them after the death of the owner - there is potential for accidents and/or injury leading to loss of an asset and/or liability for the estate.
As a result, the insurance for all vehicles needs to be maintained until these assets have either been liquidated or distributed to the designated beneficiary to protect the assets. What's something exciting your business offers? Say it here.
If you are the only one covered under a specific health insurance policy, then you will need to contact the insurance provider, either directly or through your employer, to obtain information on how to cancel the coverage upon your death.
However, check with the insurance agent or broker to see how any outstanding medical bills would be handled prior to cancelling the coverage. Leave this information in your death planning document.
If there are dependents covered under the existing policy, you will need to contact the insurance provider and confirm what steps would need to be taken immediately once the primary policy holder has passed. Would the dependents still be covered, or would it be necessary to find another provider? This is especially critical for:
We highly recommend that you discuss this with the insurance provider during the planning process to prepare for these types of special coverage.
Again, for all of the insurance policies, speak with the lawyer to ensure that the estate will continue to pay the premiums during the period in which the estate is being settled. If possible, this should be included in the will.
What is your full legal name?
Before death, the three most important documents are a Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Proxy, and a Living Will.
But none are valid after your death
These are the critical elements of what you leave behind and your bequests
During your life circumstances change. Remember to update pre-planning documents and your final wishes periodically.
Have you open
Step-by-step guide on what to do first. Calls, paperwork, care arrangements, etc.
Where do you start? Physical remains, funeral options, death certificates, memorial services and more
Next hurdle - how to handle financial records and accounts
Key reminders on securing residences - owned or rented, apartments or houses - after a loved one's death
What you need to know to protect and eliminate the deceased's digital presence
Don't forget magazine subscriptions, memberships and more
Funny, helpful and special stories that others have shared to help yo throug the process
For each section, download and personalize a pdf checklist