After a Loss: Managing a Loved One’s Affairs and Your Inheritance
By Keith Reed
You've just lost your parent, and it's a difficult, stressful time. You're grieving, yet there's so much to do: funeral arrangements to make, family to care for. And as painful as it may seem, there is also urgent business concerning your finances. Here's a checklist, by no means complete, to help you get started:
• Contact your loved one's places of employment. Find out whether he or she was covered by employee group insurance. You should also ask about any pension benefits, accrued vacation or sick pay, and credit union accounts.
• Contact any unions and service or professional organizations your loved one belonged to. You might be eligible for benefits through these groups.
• Gather your loved one's bills. Some loans and service contracts are covered by credit life insurance that pays off the balance in the event of a customer's death.
Security for Your Future
If you've been left a significant inheritance, you face further decisions for the long term. Some people choose to use a small part of the money to pay debts, or buy something they might not otherwise be able to afford.
Keep in mind, though, that your loved one probably intended to provide security for your future as well. After your loss, other family members may be even more dependent on you. You may decide to use your inheritance to provide security for them, just as it was provided for you.
Life insurance can play an important role. A single premium policy can guarantee* your children a financial legacy that's generally free from federal income tax. Life insurance can also offer living benefits, like the option of borrowing against a policy's value.**
Life can change swiftly and unpredictably, so it's always wise to have your affairs in order. The best time to make arrangements for tomorrow is today.
* Guarantees backed by the claims-paying ability of the issuer.
** A policy's cash value may be accessed via policy loans and/or partial surrenders. Policy loans accrue interest at the current rate. Loans and partial surrenders reduce the death benefit and cash value. Policy loans and withdrawals may be subject to regular income tax and may carry a 10% IRS penalty tax if the policyowner is not yet 59½.
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