stand4hope Posted July 14, 2006 Share Posted July 14, 2006 Several people have asked about the things that need to be done when a loved one has passed. I'm posting this in General because what is done BEFORE is more important and what will make it easier after. And, I am a strong advocate that everyone should take care of these things below even if they are NED, cured, or don't have any disease at all. Don and I did these things long before he was diagnosed with cancer. I just wrote all of this below to one of our members in an email, so I thought it was a good idea to share it: I cannot give legal advice. I am a paralegal and have done these things for others on my job, but have also done all these things first for my in-laws, then my parents, and of course Don. I have to be careful how I word things because my lawyer/boss/friend could get sued for malpractice if I give “legal advice”, and I could get sued for practicing law. He told me the way that I can help people without violating paralegal and lawyer ethics is to tell people what Don and I did in advance and what I did after. The things we did applied only in Indiana. The procedures and laws are different in each state, but I have found they are almost always very similar. Here are some things we did: Before Don and I had standard wills – everything went to each other first. If we died simultaneously, then everything went to our son. If our son was already deceased, then to our brothers and sisters share and share alike. We had powers of attorney for each other (both durable and real estate). We had blank HIPAA medical authorizations, signed but not dated, so we could get info on each other if it ever became necessary. We had Living Wills and Appointment of Health Care Representative documents signed and dated. We had everything jointly held so we did not have to probate in court in Indiana. It is called “Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship” – frequently abbreviated JTWRS. That’s how we had the deed to our home, our vehicles, our securities and our IRAs. What that means here is that we both owned 100% of everything, so if one died, the other owned 100%. So, at Don’s death, I owned everything 100% and Don’s estate was nearly zero. At the time of his death, our statute said we had to probate if the value of the estate is greater than $25,000. Since Don’s estate was nearly zero, I didn’t have to probate. I did the same thing with my mom and dad. Then, when Mom died, Dad didn’t have to do anything in court. Also, when Mom died, Dad and I put everything he owned (trailer, lot, truck and checking account) in his and my name as JTWRS. When he died, I owned everything and not even a large credit card balance had to be paid because his estate was worth zero. Dad didn’t have much, but what was left I split equally with my brother and two sisters. That was what Dad wanted and we agreed to when we set up everything. He did have a little more than $25,000 net worth, which was mostly absorbed by paying for things we had to do to sell the trailer and pay some for his funeral bill because he didn’t have enough life insurance to cover it. If we had not put everything in JTWRS, I would have had to open an estate, and even though I work for an attorney, the costs of probating would have consumed every cent that was left after those things I just mentioned were paid. Don and I also had credit cards in both our names. Guess what? I owned those 100%, too, so I still had to pay or make payments on those. I still have not removed his name from those credit cards and don’t have to. I guess if we had known in advance we probably could have closed those accounts and moved the debt to a new credit card just in his name only, but I think a bank would have seen right through that and my butt would have been called into court. One other thing about the way Dad and I put his things in both names. There are some laws/rules in regard to doing things like that are done "in anticipation of death" – especially with Medicaid. I’m sure that Dad’s credit card company probably closely checked the date we put Dad's assets in both our names. It’s easy for them to do – all they have to do is check with the recorder’s office to get the date. Fortunately, Dad didn’t die for five years after Mom’s death. I’m not sure, but I think most places here have a 3-year “lookback” – especially Medicaid. After (with JTWRS) 1. Life Insurance: I called the life insurance companies, got the necessary paperwork, followed their instructions and filed a claim. They all required an “original” certified death certificate. (I think I ordered 10 when I arranged the funeral). A couple of the ins. companies required an affidavit that I was the survivor identifying myself as the beneficiary. 2. License Plates: There was a form affidavit that I had to complete that I found online at our BMV that was needed to get the vehicles in my name. I completed that form and took that form and an original death certificate to the license branch. I also called the BMV ahead of time to be sure that I had everything I needed before I went and waited in the long lines. 3. Deed to the house: I haven’t done anything with this and don’t have to until the house is sold or I refinance. When that happens, all I will have to do is provide a copy of the death certificate and sign an affidavit that will usually be provided at closing. 4. Bank accounts: I haven’t done anything with these either to remove Don’s name. The banker told me I didn’t have to. When, or if, I remove his name from bank accounts, I’m sure all I will need is the death certificate and maybe an affidavit that I’m sure the bank will provide. 5. IRAs and 401K (I was the beneficiary): I simply called the institutions and they sent me instructions, papers to sign, and of course I again had to provide the death certificate and an affidavit. After (without JTWRS) Since our possessions were above the $25,000 level, if we had not had everything joint name or JTWRS, I would have been required by law to contact an attorney who would have opened an estate and probated Don’s will. If he had not had a will, the laws of intestate succession (instead of testate succession [with a will]), in Indiana, would have applied. I still would have had to do some of things listed above, but I also would have had attorney fees, filing fees, notices would have to have been published to creditors, and it would have taken many months to close the estate and make distribution. If you are paying medical bills or debts, you might not have to do that, depending on the situation. I would suggest you contact an attorney that is experienced with probate and debtor/creditor laws about your requirements as far as paying those bills, especially if it is difficult for you to make those payments. Hope that helps some of you. Love, Peggy Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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