Probate – When Someone Dies #5
“Coping with the loss of a loved one is difficult. We hope this information will help you focus on what you need to do and what you may wish to delegate to friends and family. This brochure will provide you with some basic information on what you may need to know in the first few days following a death. You should establish an early relationship with your attorney to assure that all matters are properly addressed. Seeking your attorney’s advice before you act may avoid more costly legal services later.
Take Care against Unethical Persons
In the period following the loss of a loved one, be careful before accepting any telephone or mail solicitation. Carefully scrutinize invoices for validity, as it is possible to receive fraudulent invoices. Avoid lifestyle changes for a period to allow for reflection on how the loss will affect the surviving family and friends.
Avoid Immediate Collection of Benefits
Avoid transferring title to assets or making claims as a beneficiary until considering whether either a tax or non-tax reason exists for refusing to receive an asset. Even though the account executive wants to be helpful, you may lose an important tax advantage if you accept an asset. An attorney can help you find the best approach.
Veterans Benefits and Social Security
The mortuary may assist you with the paperwork for both VA and Social Security benefits. For information on VA benefits, call the nearest VA listing for Benefits Information and Assistance. For Social Security benefits, call the Social Security Administration immediately. Call (800) 772-1213. Be prepared to identify the deceased’s:
• relationship to you
• Social Security or VA claim number
• date of birth
• date of death
• place of death
• surviving spouse or next of kin
• medical history that bears on whether the death is service related or not
If you do not know the VA number, then provide:
• service number
• dates of active service
Your call will stop the monthly payments. Usually the VA will automatically withdraw any payments made via direct deposit after the date of death. If this does not happen, you must return the check for the month of death.
Social Security monthly benefits are available to the surviving spouse and to children under 18 and certain disabled children. Benefits include a lump sum death benefit. Ask for the “Social Security Survivors” brochure.
Veteran’s benefits may be available to the surviving spouse. Benefits may include a lump sum death benefit; if death was service connected, a continuing monthly payment to the surviving spouse, and financial assistance with funeral expenses and cemetery plot, or burial in a national cemetery. Ask for the “Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents” publication.”
Our office has helped many grieving families and friends with the difficult matters that need to be handled after a loved ones death. We understand the pain of the loss can make these matters extremely stressful and we try to assist in a way that alleviates some of the pressure.
The above excerpt was from a pamphlet is published as a public service by the Colorado Bar Association. Its purpose is to inform citizens of their legal rights and obligations and to provide information regarding the legal profession and how it may best serve the community. Changes may have occurred in the law since the time of publication. Before relying on this information, consult an attorney about your individual case.
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