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Better to Organize Papers before Someone Dies

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | Jan 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

Estate planning

Handling the decedent's final affairs.

When a family member passes away, there are some important papers and information that must be gathered. The smart way to address the issue is to gather the papers beforehand and have assistance from an estate planning attorney, according to The Balance in “Important Papers to Locate After Someone Dies.”

Asset Information:

  • Account statements, including bank accounts, investments, and retirement accounts.
  • Life insurance policies. You may be required to show the original documents.
  • Beneficiary designations. This could include payable on death accounts and transfer on death accounts.
  • Real estate deeds
  • Titles for cars and boats
  • Stock and bond certificates–if held in certificate forms.

Business Documents:

  • Corporate, LLC or partnership documents
  • Account statements
  • Contracts
  • Business licenses
  • Income tax returns

Contracts:

  • Pre- or post-nuptial agreements and amendments, if any
  • Loans
  • Leases

Bills:

  • Utilities, cell phone, credit card, storage unit bills
  • Property tax and mortgage bills
  • Lines of credit or any outstanding loans
  • Medical bills
  • Funeral bills

Estate Planning Documents:

  • Last will and testament, plus codicil(s), if any
  • Revocable living trust and amendment(s), if any
  • Legacy letter, if there is one

Tax Returns

  • Income tax returns – federal and state for the last three years
  • Gift tax returns -federal and state

Death Certificates –

  • You'll need to order several from the funeral home

In addition to these documents, locate the decedent's Social Security card and Medicare or Medicaid information.

Reference: The Balance (Jan. 1, 2019) “Important Papers to Locate After Someone Dies”

About the Author

Nina Whitehurst

Attorney at Law Nina has been practicing law for over 30 years in the areas of estate planning, real estate and business law She is currently licensed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Tennessee. Her Martindale-Hubbell attorney rating is the highest achievable: 5 stars in peer...

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