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What to Do in the First 48 Hours When You Lose a Loved One

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© The Stelter Company The information in this publication is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in examples are for hypothetical purposes only and are subject to change. References to estate and income taxes include federal taxes only. State income/estate taxes or state law may impact your results. California State University, Los Angeles University Advancement 5151 State University Drive Los Angeles, CA 90032 T (323) 343-3075 • F (323) 343-4225 Finding Important Documents After the funeral, determine whether your loved one had a will. It is wise to check safe-deposit boxes, home safes or files of important papers. When you find the original will (not a photocopy), contact an attorney experienced in probating wills. The attorney will then read the will and work with the executor to file it with the local probate court. If you cannot locate the will, contact your loved one's attorney. Other Documents You Should Locate [ 1 ] Trust documents [ 2 ] Property deeds [ 3 ] Bank and brokerage account statements [ 4 ] Insurance policies, annuities and retirement accounts [ 5 ] Recent income tax returns [ 6 ] Birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce decree and military discharge paperwork [ 7 ] The most recent bills, such as credit card, mortgage and utility statements [ 8 ] Vehicle titles and registrations [ 9 ] Safe-deposit boxes and keys Are You Eligible for Benefits? If you are the next of kin, chances are you are a beneficiary, and benefits are due to you. Be sure to contact the following: • Social Security—The funeral home will generally assist a surviving spouse or, in a few cases, a child in applying for Social Security's $255 death benefit payable on behalf of the deceased. Social Security also needs notification to discontinue any benefits the deceased may have been receiving. Visit www.socialsecurity.gov for more information. • Veteran's Administration—If your loved one was a veteran, visit www.va.gov/opa/persona to learn about benefits. • Life Insurance—You will need to determine whether your loved one owned any insurance policies. Contact the agent or the home office of the insurance company to file a claim. One method to determine if any policies may exist is to check bank records for any life insurance premiums paid in the last year or so. TAKE TIME TO GRIEVE A well-known and important rule to follow is to postpone any major decisions until at least a year has passed since your loved one's death. After a year, you'll have a clearer state of mind when making choices about your life, your residence and your finances.

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