Survivor Support

The loss of a loved one can bring with it many emotions and questions, and some of those questions will involve financial decisions that can be tough to address while grieving.

Having a guide to help you along the way can remove some of the financial stress and uncertainty that may arise, answer some of the questions you may have, and remind you of often-overlooked actions to take after losing a loved one. Having a plan in place will allow you to focus on grieving, growing, and healing.

If you have recently suffered the loss of a loved one, reach out to your Reilly Financial Advisors Senior Wealth Advisor. He or she is here to help you and can offer supplementary, more-specific checklist items in addition to the items offered below.

Priority Actions Financial Checklist

Steps to Take in the First Week or Two:

  • Notify the Social Security Administration of the death and inquire about benefits eligibility.
    • Web: www.ssa.gov
    • Phone: (800) 772-1213
  • Gather important papers. These include will and trust documents; employee benefits; tax returns; titles to property; a listing of assets and liabilities; statements for brokerage accounts, 401(k)s, IRAs, pensions, and annuities; and life insurance.
  • If you have a trusted advisor, contact them for professional guidance on financial accounts and planning. If you don’t have a trusted financial partner, engaging one is a good idea.
  • Ensure payment of recurring bills
  • Ensure the continuity of any insurance still required for survivors. Here are some examples:
    • Health
    • Property, casualty, and umbrella
    • Life
    • Disability
    • Long-term care

Steps to Take Within the First Few Months

  • Work on the estate settlement process.
  • Review the beneficiaries named for all financial accounts, and work on retitling accounts.
  • Work with your financial partner on decisions for pensions, retirement, annuities, or accounts requiring an election by the beneficiary.
  • Review the need for an estate tax return (not required if no estate tax is due).
  • For retitling property where no beneficiary was named, determine if probate is necessary.
  • Determine if you need an attorney for probate or estate settlement. Professional help may be needed for more complex estates with different types of property, significant liabilities, or disputes among beneficiaries.

Steps to Take Eventually

  • Work with your financial partner to create an updated financial plan with goals and resources based on your new circumstances.
  • Revisit cash flow and budget after you’ve had time to evaluate ongoing expenses and needs.
  • Review your estate plan and, if necessary, update beneficiaries on IRAs, trusts, and TOD accounts. Update trustees, powers of attorney, and advance directives where needed.
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