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“What should I know about claiming death benefits?”

Posted by Nina Whitehurst | Jun 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

One of the most difficult experiences we go through is the death of our loved ones, and compounding the overwhelming grief are the funeral and burial costs.

As a probate lawyer, I know that this is especially true if the deceased was the main breadwinner, leaving the family without many financial options.

Almost immediately after a loved one has passed, the expenses start rolling in. I do have some good news, however: there are often ways to expedite the death benefits process to receive them quickly to help pay for it all.

I know it's only a small comfort, but it can really make a difference.

You can collect life insurance and annuities quickly, and they avoid the probate process with proper beneficiary designation.

The companies in charge of the policies will require a death certificate to start the release process, and you'll have to fill out many forms. I recommend consulting with your estate planning attorney to make sure the forms are filled out correctly.

You can claim Social Security benefits, such as death or monthly survivor benefits, quickly after your loved one passes as well. These benefits go to the surviving spouse and any dependent children.

However, such benefits may have eligibility requirements, such as age or disabilities. If you are unsure if you meet the requirements, I urge you to see an estate planning attorney without delay. Some survivor benefits are not retroactive if there's too long of a delay after the person's death.

Spouses of veterans may be eligible for benefits from the Veteran's Administration, and these benefits can be easy to claim, once again, if you meet the eligibility requirements.

There may be no way to avoid probate entirely, and in that case, working with an estate attorney can help you get through the process quickly which, if not properly handled, could take years to sort out.

If you need any help with probate or if you just have some questions about claiming death benefits, I invite you to contact our office to schedule a consultation.

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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