December 19, 2007 at 7:14 am #18384edithMember
Two weeks before my husband died, we made our last trip together to Virginia, where his family is from (we live in MD). He knew that it would be his last time so I finally agreed to make funeral arrangements. I never liked it but it’s something I had to do, to give him the best of everything ’till the end. He had picked out the songs that he wanted to be played, Bible verses to be read, the church, pastors, pall bearers if his navy friends wouldn’t be able to attend in uniforms (which they did, flew to Va. from all over the US). I asked his friends if they could speak at his memorial service and some of them volunteered. My husband has 4 sisters and all of them were in-charged of something; catering, making sure that all the pall bearers were coming in uniform, flowers, every detail needed.
For insurance, IRA’s it will be paid to the beneficiary, it doesn’t matter what the “will” states and if the benefiacy is a minor, the money will go in a trust. If your dad and mom owns a house and the title has “right of survivorship”, it will go directly to your mother. In the state of Maryland, you don’t need to open up a estate if the assets is less than $30,000, all you need is a “Letter of Administration” which you could get from your court house (cheaper than talking to a lawyer).
Social Security pays $255 (think it’s called “burial benefit”). Get at least 10 copies of Death Certificates, you would need it. Close all accounts; bank, credit cards, etc.
It has been 4 mos. since my husband passed away and I’m still doing paper works.
When that time comes, it would be very difficult to function but you have to be very strong, don’t fall apart. With the help and support of my sisters-in-law, we were able to give my husband a very beautiful memorial service. He would have been proud. I fell apart coming back home to an empty house (My husband was buried in Va) but I had to get myself together for my girls and I had to start making calls!
Agencies to call; Social Security, Insurance agents, Banks, IRA’s, for militaries- Department of Veterans Affairs, Dept. of Defense, Tri care, SGLI, VGLI, get a new ID card. Get the “WILL” probated if needed, call your court house for help or hire a lawyer. Talk to your CPA, regarding taxes. For spouses that are left behind, if the husband or wife was listed as your beneficiaries, you have to make changes. A good book to have is Suze Orman’s “Women and Money”.
EdithDecember 18, 2007 at 10:01 pm #18383stacieMember
Thank you for your post. You bring up a lot of valid concerns. This is on our list of pages we would like to add to the website. I wish we had something for you right now, but we are not able to work through the pages as quickly as we would like.
I know this won’t help you right now, but as the pages become available we will let you know.
StacieDecember 17, 2007 at 2:29 am #18382jmoneypennyMember
One more thing! I realized I didn’t address your question about social security – I’m pretty sure that the funeral home takes care of that, also they will take care of applying life insurance money to the funeral costs, so if your father has a policy, keep it handy.
That’s all from me!
JoyceDecember 17, 2007 at 2:23 am #18381jmoneypennyMember
I know how hard this time is for you and I see you’re a realist, like me, and you know that you will be punched in the gut when your father passes, even though you know it will happen. I am so sorry you’re going through this. But you’re absolutely right to plan ahead, and I wish I had done more of that with my mother. She wouldn’t discuss what she wanted, except cremation and a pastor to say something nice.
As far as the financial matters, if there is a will, then you should make sure you know where to find it. If there isn’t a will, it’s usually not too complicated as long as you don’t have any evil family members (most of us have at least one!) who will try to muscle in on even a small amount of inheritance. If it’s just you, your siblings and your mother, then I guess that your mother gets everything – maybe something for the children, but I’m not sure. My mother only had her 2 daughters, and we were adamant about splitting everything exactly in half, so it was fairly easy (though my mother’s sister did steal money my mother had in my grandmother’s name, the token evil family member -and it still burns me up to think about it – stealing from my 90 year old grandmother, who is still alive!) You have to get to a lawyer eventually and declare someone the administrator of the estate – your mother may want it to be you, so then you’d have to deal with disbursing the money. A lawyer can do everything for you and advise you on most stuff.
The one thing that I realize now is SO important is the actual funeral. I never liked funerals, never saw any sense in them, but when my mother died I wanted my mother’s funeral to be a TRIBUTE to a wonderful person, it was a very significant ceremony to me suddenly, and you just don’t have the time and/or energy to make it as beautiful as you would like. The night before the funeral, we were trying to pick out photos to display at a Powerpoint presentation and pick songs that my mother liked. I was so distraught that I just told my sister to pick out the photos because I just couldn’t bear to look at them. And I thought of some music, but to this day I kick myself that I didn’t think of “Morning Has Broken” or “Here Comes the Sun” – 2 songs that are so uplifting and that my mother loved so much. You just don’t think of these things when the person is alive, and when you’re blinded by grief, you can’t think clearly.
Also, if you will have a clergyperson saying anything at the funeral, find out if there’s someone your father would like or that he or you have a relationship with. My mother and I are not religious at all – she believed in God but not organized religion – so she wanted something nice and Godly but not too sectarian. I wanted the hospice clergy person, as my mother had talked to him and really felt inspired by him, but my sister got a recommendation for another guy and his eulogy was HORRIBLE! I felt like getting up and leaving in the middle of it – not for myself and my own beliefs, but because my mother would have HATED it. We even told him beforehand what my mother believed, and he just preached what HE believed, and he didn’t even know my mother beforehand, so it was like an insult to her memory.
So please think about what you would like said about your father and how you will want to honor him at the funeral – and maybe start writing something now, if you want to say a few words, too. I know it’s terrible to have to think of these things when he’s still alive and it’s very upsetting, but I wrote a quick eulogy for my mother 15 minutes before her cremation ceremony because I had no time to think before that and I didn’t even realize that I would want to say something. But I desperately NEEDED to say something in her honor and the result was fine, but could have been better if I had thought of it before.
Sorry I did my usual rambling – hopefully a teensy bit of it may be helpful to you. We’re all here for you in your time of need and I hope all your prayers about your father come true.
I wish you some peace and solace,
JoyceDecember 16, 2007 at 6:39 pm #18380devoncatParticipant
I have no advice, just a hug. If you are member of a church, perhaps the office there has something. A nursing home might also have such information. Sorry, I know i am stretching it a bit, but I have never been through this. I am in the process of harrassing my sisters exboyfriends brother for legal advice. So maybe there is someone (even remotely) involved with your family that might be in the know.
Please remember you cant do it all yourself. You will need help or just an ear maybe. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts.
KrisDecember 16, 2007 at 6:24 pm #18379pderatMember
Richard-this is a very good site with some fundamentals:
I experienced all this 20 years ago when my first husband died. It is a very difficult time but it is always better to be prepared so there is no chaos at the actual time of death. If you have hospice or palliative care they will take over much of this for you or at least direct you which is very helpful. My thoughts are with you and your family during this very difficult time.
PatriceDecember 16, 2007 at 5:09 pm #973fathersonMember
Intellectually and now emotionally, I believe that the time of my dad’s passing is imminent. No matter how much our family tries to prepare ourselves for it emotionally, I know that it is still going to feel almost unbearable when it does. Since I don’t know that I will be able to think rationally or pragmatically when that time comes, I was hoping to get some advice on things to do with respect to legal, financial, administrative. Does anyone have a checklist on things to do before a family member passes and also things to do after (e.g. with respect to insurance, social security, reporting to other agencies, etc.)
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