Should I take any particular steps with regard to the assets of the deceased?
Speak with your financial advisor to learn the best ways to handle the assets of your loved one. If you need a financial advisor, call our office. We’ll be happy to recommend someone.
Some general guidelines:
- Automobiles. Find out if the title of the car of the deceased needs to be modified by checking with the State Department of Motor Vehicles. You can generally do this online.
- Insurance Policies. If you are a surviving spouse, you may need to modify the beneficiary or beneficiaries on your insurance policies. It might also be advisable to lower the amount of life insurance coverage you carry if you have no other dependents. Review your home and auto insurance policies as well.
- Bank Accounts. A joint bank account automatically passes to the surviving spouse. However, you will need to advise the bank to change the ownership records. Unless it is a trust account, if the deceased was the sole owner of the bank account, the asset will need to go through probate, unless the account provided for Paid on Death (POD) designation.
- Safe Deposit Box. If you have a key and your name is already on the signature card, then you can clean out the contents. With a copy of the death certificate and a letter testamentary, you can close the account for the box rental. Otherwise, a court order is generally necessary to open a safe deposit box that is only in the deceased’s name.
- Stocks and Bonds. Inform your broker of the death, to have the titles changed on the ownership of existing stocks and bonds.
- Credit Cards. Cancel any credit cards that are only in the deceased’s name, after using estate funds to pay off the balance(s). If the cards are in both the deceased and surviving spouse’s names, the surviving spouse should inform the credit card company of the death and ask for cards to be reissued in only the survivor’s name.