Death Book

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills

Death Book

Postby Steady59 » Sun Jul 07, 2013 7:43 pm

I'm relatively new here and have learned lots since I've been reading. While researching investment policy statements, I came across mentions of letter of instruction. In our house, this is fondly known as the "death book". I stumbled onto the version my Dad put together before he died and it was invaluable to me, an immense time saver. As I went through the estate settlement process after his death last year, I kept track of what was helpful and what was missing and came up with the following general table of contents that could be used as a starting point for most people. This is not meant to be just a primer or introduction to the family finances but a good, overall write up of all household related documentation. Its a good rainy Saturday afternoon/Sunday morning project :). I hope some of you find it useful.

Personal Summary
Name, address, tele #s, maiden name if any, Mothers maiden name, DOB, Birth place, SS#, drivers license #s for all family members and lineals
Copies of all Wills, Trusts, Power of Attorneys, Health care proxies, Living wills, applicable amendments, etc.
Vital docs - marriage cert, service discharge papers, birth certs, passports, etc. (origs should be in safe deposit box)
Email account info and passwords
IDs and passwords to all on line accounts
Personal Address books
Personal telephone #s - home, cell, etc.
Location and list of safe deposit box content and key
Important contacts, i.e. Lawyer, Accountant, Financial Advisor (if any), etc.
List of pets, names, meds, feeding instruction, vet contact info
Computer IDs and passwords including Admin access
Electronic document location - Local, cloud, etc.
Router Info - wireless SSID and password; Admin ID/Password
Smartphone unlock codes

Benefits
Primary care info - Doctor contact info
Medicare and health insurance info for all
Social Security Benefit info for all
Long term care account info if any
Life insurance info (Company, actual policies, policy #s, value, bene and tele #) if any
Additional death benefit values and sources info if any
Annually: Validate Bene info is correct for all insurance and retirement accounts

Financial
Bank Account info and latest statements
Investment Account info and latest statements
Retirement plan accounts and statements
Credit card info and latest statements
At least two years of tax returns, both federal and state
Expenses by month and vendor, acct # and how paid, i.e. electronic, check, auto withdraw (important to know these), etc

Property
Residences - Estimated property values, copies of deeds, insurance info, keys, phone #
Cars/Trucks/Boats/RVs/Trailers- Estimated value, copy of latest appraisal if any, original titles, registration copies, insurance policy, maintenance history, preferred service person and contact info, keys
Contractor contact info for home repairs
Specific instructions for disbursement of more expensive personal property (should be included in Will or Trust also)

Upon Death Preparation
Funeral home preference and contact name
Obituary - actual text, where you want it posted. i.e. what newspapers, funeral home websites, magazines, etc.
Service and burial/cremation preferences, plot location
Casket/Headstone/urn preference and any arrangements/receipts if already made
Wording on stone/urn

Survivor tasks after death
Notify family and friends
Arrange for funeral home related tasks, obit, service/burial/cremation/after get together, etc.
Get at least 10 certified death certificates and 20 copies from the funeral home (provide copies whenever possible)
Notify Lawyer, Accountant, Financial Advisor
Call SSA to stop/change SS# benefits to surviving spouse if applicable
Call life insurance companies to request paperwork to start payout process

Legal
Lawyer should start required paper work and provide an instructional letter of required legal tasks and timeline to Executor and Trustee
Establish a budget for anticipated legal fees. Remember, you will be billed for every phone call and email question. Ideally, these expenses should all be paid/reimbursed from the deceased's estate
Keep copies of all paperwork and receipts for related expenses
Identify and begin Probate process if necessary
Last edited by Steady59 on Tue Jul 09, 2013 7:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
Steady59
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Thu May 23, 2013 3:05 pm
Location: MA

Re: Death Book

Postby LadyGeek » Sun Jul 07, 2013 7:44 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Finance (Not Investing) forum (estate planning).
To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.
User avatar
LadyGeek
Site Admin
 
Posts: 20086
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Philadelphia

Re: Death Book

Postby Blue » Sun Jul 07, 2013 8:02 pm

Very helpful thread/post. Thank you for sharing.
User avatar
Blue
 
Posts: 1034
Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2008 10:18 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby Allan » Sun Jul 07, 2013 8:06 pm

Thank you for sharing, this is very helpful. I'm sure there is other helpful information that could be included but your list looks fairly complete.

Allan
Allan
 
Posts: 647
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 9:15 pm
Location: Houston

Re: Death Book

Postby EmergDoc » Sun Jul 07, 2013 8:26 pm

Great post! Should be wiki'ed
1) Invest you must 2) Time is your friend 3) Impulse is your enemy | 4) Basic arithmetic works 5) Stick to simplicity 6) Stay the course
User avatar
EmergDoc
 
Posts: 10212
Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 9:11 pm
Location: Greatest Snow On Earth

Re: Death Book

Postby matjen » Sun Jul 07, 2013 8:34 pm

Excellent thoughts here. Thank you for sharing.
A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.
User avatar
matjen
 
Posts: 907
Joined: Sun Nov 20, 2011 11:30 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby LadyGeek » Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:24 pm

This thread is now in the wiki: Estate planning and Family strategic planning
To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.
User avatar
LadyGeek
Site Admin
 
Posts: 20086
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Philadelphia

Re: Death Book

Postby Texas hold em71 » Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:40 pm

Thanks! Have bookmarked it for a future weekend. Now to find a subtle way to send to my parents??
Texas hold em71
 
Posts: 544
Joined: Sat May 18, 2013 11:09 am

Re: Death Book

Postby jebmke » Mon Jul 08, 2013 7:19 am

As a TaxAide volunteer, I prepare tax returns for many widows and widowers. If you are married, do your spouse a favor and prepare a complete record of the tax basis (date and cost) for all your taxable investments, whether they are jointly held or individually held. You should make copies of all the forms 8606 (from the beginning of time) from your tax files and keep them in one place.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
jebmke
 
Posts: 2975
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:44 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby Steady59 » Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:08 am

Thanks for the suggestion, Jebmke.

My list is really just a starting table of contents that should morph and change by family as needed. I think I've captured the basic items that all families should at least consider and document. I'm hoping others will chime in with recommendations also.

One that I missed was to verify all beneficiaries on insurance policies. My Dad named his Dad as a bene on a policy he had back from 1957 before he married my Mother. We had to put that through probate which was time consuming and expensive. Verifying benes ahead of time will help to avoid this situation and more importantly, make sure that they are correct. I've heard of a couple of instances where a divorce happened and spouse #1 got the life insurance because the bene was never changed.
Steady59
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Thu May 23, 2013 3:05 pm
Location: MA

Re: Death Book

Postby Tom_T » Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:36 am

A few more technical items...

- If you're using a desktop computer, don't forget the ID and password to log onto the machine itself. Sometimes, one person's account is set up with administrator access, and the others are set up as lower-level users (at least in the Windows world.) You might not be able to perform certain functions if you are not logged in with the higher level of access.
- Is there a router connected to the computer? Get the router ID and password, and the ID/password to the administrator console.
- Smartphone unlock code
Tom_T
 
Posts: 1397
Joined: Wed Aug 29, 2007 2:33 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby Random Poster » Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:52 am

TodB wrote:Financial
Bank Account info and latest statements
Investment Account info and latest statements
Retirement plan accounts and statements
Credit card info and latest statements


I like the idea, but I'm not going through a "book" every month (or whatever) to provide the latest statement for each account. The account statements may be in their respective files, but they aren't going to be duplicated in a separate location (seems like a lot of hassle) and, in any event, may be online anyway. Seems to me that as long as you have set out the account information and log-in data, your survivors would be okay.*


* Assuming that the survivors are to receive any of the funds in the accounts, of course. :wink:
Random Poster
 
Posts: 1055
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:17 am

Re: Death Book

Postby Sidney » Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:58 am

Random Poster wrote:log-in data

In many (most?) situations it would be a problem for survivors to log in to an account belonging to the deceased.
I always wanted to be a procrastinator.
Sidney
 
Posts: 5897
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 6:06 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby Tom_T » Mon Jul 08, 2013 12:02 pm

Sidney wrote:
Random Poster wrote:log-in data

In many (most?) situations it would be a problem for survivors to log in to an account belonging to the deceased.

Why would it be a problem? In most cases, the company managing the site would have no idea that the account holder is deceased.
Tom_T
 
Posts: 1397
Joined: Wed Aug 29, 2007 2:33 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby Sam I Am » Mon Jul 08, 2013 12:07 pm

Message deleted.
Last edited by Sam I Am on Sun Oct 06, 2013 10:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
Sam I Am
 
Posts: 2063
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 7:58 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby dual » Mon Jul 08, 2013 12:18 pm

Tom_T wrote:
Sidney wrote:
Random Poster wrote:log-in data

In many (most?) situations it would be a problem for survivors to log in to an account belonging to the deceased.

Why would it be a problem? In most cases, the company managing the site would have no idea that the account holder is deceased.


IANAL but I think it would be illegal for anyone to make financial transactions such as selling/buying stock, withdrawals unless they were an authorized user for an account.

Also, keeping online account access information up to date would be a real chore plus a fairly big security risk. I change my passwords and online userids regularly.

What I do is to put a list of the financial companies where I have funds, their addresses and telephone numbers and my account numbers on the list. Then, after I die, my personal representative can contact the companies with a death certificate and other documentation to access the accounts.
User avatar
dual
 
Posts: 338
Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 7:02 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby Abe » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:16 pm

I am a member of the Funeral Consumers Alliance. Funeral Consumers Alliance is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting a consumer's right to choose a meaningful, dignified, affordable funeral. They do for funeral purchases what Consumer Reports does for products. There web site is here:
http://www.funerals.org/
They have a lot of useful information regarding death and funerals. Anyone can join for a small donation ($10.00 to $40.00). They send me a lot of information in the mail. One thing they sent was a booklet titled: "Before I Go You Should Know." My funeral and final plans. They are a national organization, but they have local Chapters. It is worth joining just for the information. Some of what I learned was: By law, funeral homes are required to provide you with an itemized price list. You are not required to have your body embalmed. In a lot of cases, it is not necessary. They also do surveys and provide me an itemized list of funeral cost that local funeral homes charge each year.
Slow and steady wins the race.
User avatar
Abe
 
Posts: 799
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:24 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby Murray Boyd » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:25 pm

This was in the NYT a while ago:

http://getyourshittogether.org/
User avatar
Murray Boyd
 
Posts: 788
Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2007 6:00 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby Sidney » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:27 pm

Tom_T wrote:
Sidney wrote:
Random Poster wrote:log-in data

In many (most?) situations it would be a problem for survivors to log in to an account belonging to the deceased.

Why would it be a problem? In most cases, the company managing the site would have no idea that the account holder is deceased.

Someone else logging in as the "deceased" has no legal standing. The assets are frozen. Until the assets are released to the beneficiaries, the living have no business going into the accounts. Joint accounts or accounts with POA and agency are obvious exceptions.
I always wanted to be a procrastinator.
Sidney
 
Posts: 5897
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 6:06 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby Sidney » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:29 pm

dual wrote:Then, after I die, my personal representative can contact the companies with a death certificate and other documentation to access the accounts.

This is often the recommended approach.
I always wanted to be a procrastinator.
Sidney
 
Posts: 5897
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 6:06 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby jebmke » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:35 pm

dual wrote:
Tom_T wrote:
Sidney wrote:
Random Poster wrote:log-in data

In many (most?) situations it would be a problem for survivors to log in to an account belonging to the deceased.

Why would it be a problem? In most cases, the company managing the site would have no idea that the account holder is deceased.


IANAL but I think it would be illegal for anyone to make financial transactions such as selling/buying stock, withdrawals unless they were an authorized user for an account.

Also, keeping online account access information up to date would be a real chore plus a fairly big security risk. I change my passwords and online userids regularly.

What I do is to put a list of the financial companies where I have funds, their addresses and telephone numbers and my account numbers on the list. Then, after I die, my personal representative can contact the companies with a death certificate and other documentation to access the accounts.

When my B-I-L died, my wife was instructed to inform the banks and VG, both of whom locked down the accounts. Once the court issued the administration docs and death cert, they both re-titled the accounts into the name of the estate and granted her access. We were instructed to not touch any financial assets until this process was complete.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.
jebmke
 
Posts: 2975
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:44 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby Random Poster » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:52 pm

jebmke wrote:
dual wrote:
Tom_T wrote:
Sidney wrote:
Random Poster wrote:log-in data

In many (most?) situations it would be a problem for survivors to log in to an account belonging to the deceased.

Why would it be a problem? In most cases, the company managing the site would have no idea that the account holder is deceased.


IANAL but I think it would be illegal for anyone to make financial transactions such as selling/buying stock, withdrawals unless they were an authorized user for an account.

Also, keeping online account access information up to date would be a real chore plus a fairly big security risk. I change my passwords and online userids regularly.

What I do is to put a list of the financial companies where I have funds, their addresses and telephone numbers and my account numbers on the list. Then, after I die, my personal representative can contact the companies with a death certificate and other documentation to access the accounts.

When my B-I-L died, my wife was instructed to inform the banks and VG, both of whom locked down the accounts. Once the court issued the administration docs and death cert, they both re-titled the accounts into the name of the estate and granted her access. We were instructed to not touch any financial assets until this process was complete.


In regards to the information suggested by the OP, I fail to see how there is any meaningful difference between seeing the most hard-copy recent account statement that is issued by the financial institution and going online and essentially doing a balance inquiry shortly before, or after, the time of another's death.

As to someone making financial transfers into/out of an account of an individual who is deceased but whom the bank is not aware of being deceased, I suppose that is a different matter, although I personally think the "correctness" of that action depends on who is doing the transferring, what their relationship was to the deceased, and what their standing is as a beneficiary from the deceased.

Rightly or wrongly, I really don't care if my only heir and beneficiary accesses any financial accounts once I'm dead to find out the balance amounts or to make some transfers into their own account. Everything is linked anyway, and the person in question should already have a pretty good idea of what the balance in every account that has my name on it is. If the financial institution finds that to be objectionable, well, quite frankly, that really won't be my problem and I'm sure that my heir/beneficiary can deal with it.
Random Poster
 
Posts: 1055
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:17 am

Re: Death Book

Postby Default User BR » Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:45 am

jebmke wrote:When my B-I-L died, my wife was instructed to inform the banks and VG, both of whom locked down the accounts. Once the court issued the administration docs and death cert, they both re-titled the accounts into the name of the estate and granted her access. We were instructed to not touch any financial assets until this process was complete.

If he would have had those accounts with a POD or TOD beneficiary, then this could have been simpler. Instead of waiting for probate, the beneficiary could have gone to the bank with a death certificate and gotten the money immediately.


Brian
Default User BR
 
Posts: 7501
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 7:32 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby Default User BR » Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:48 am

Random Poster wrote:In regards to the information suggested by the OP, I fail to see how there is any meaningful difference between seeing the most hard-copy recent account statement that is issued by the financial institution and going online and essentially doing a balance inquiry shortly before, or after, the time of another's death.

I would not advise accessing any deceased person's account for any reason. You do not have permission to access the account. The bank could consider it a fraud attempt. Even if you had POA in the past, that would end with the person's death.


Brian
Default User BR
 
Posts: 7501
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 7:32 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby Redstorm » Thu Jul 18, 2013 4:23 am

There was this also

To help your heirs, write a ‘Death Book’

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/to-hel ... 2013-02-26
User avatar
Redstorm
 
Posts: 124
Joined: Thu May 02, 2013 2:43 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby l2ridehd » Thu Jul 18, 2013 5:47 am

And keep this death book in a safe place labeled Uncle Teddies retirement letters or something a thief would pass by. Imagine if all this information fell into the wrong hands.
User avatar
l2ridehd
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2011 5:18 am

Re: Death Book

Postby reggiesimpson » Thu Jul 18, 2013 6:58 am

Excellent idea. Going to work on it as i type!
reggiesimpson
 
Posts: 1279
Joined: Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:47 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby dickenjb » Thu Jul 18, 2013 7:07 am

Not only should someone not transfer money out of probated accounts, doing so may permanently remove the option of "disclaiming" those assets. Disclaiming an inheritance is a powerful and often overlooked tool.
Philly Chapter Coordinator
dickenjb
 
Posts: 2941
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 1:11 pm
Location: Philadelphia PA

Re: Death Book

Postby island » Fri Jul 26, 2013 8:33 pm

TedB- Excellent thread, thank you for starting it and for all the contributions of others. Any other suggestions out there?

Sometimes I worry about the "what ifs...", because I don't have all this info at my fingertips so I'm definitely going to take your suggestions and work on my only little black book. Will share with my dad and other loved ones too.
Thanks again.
island
 
Posts: 677
Joined: Tue Jul 23, 2013 1:45 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby 1530jesup » Fri Jul 26, 2013 9:25 pm

Sam I Am wrote:I set up something like this and called it my Doomsday Letter. A copy of it is kept in daughter's safe.

However, I included how wife and I received all our bills, and how they were paid.

Everyone can tweak OP's outline as desired, great idea, IMHO.

Sam I Am


Four years ago (August '09) I sat down with the wife and reviewed all accounts, pay schedules, passwords and important documents. I then went in for major surgery (I survived :D ) but she had one less thing to worry about.
Today that is ancient info and I realize that many things need updating.
And, of course we should realize that just climbing out of bed in the morning could lead to dire results and having things in order would make it easier for the family to pick up the pieces.
Be well, Rich
efficiency is not all its cracked up to be, do you want to live your life in half the time it takes the average person? Rhymes With Orange | Rich
1530jesup
 
Posts: 927
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 11:19 pm
Location: South Florida

Re: Death Book

Postby tadamsmar » Tue Nov 12, 2013 1:51 pm

Sharing your password voids Vanguard's anti-fraud reimbursement commitment:

https://personal.vanguard.com/us/help/S ... ontent.jsp

There's not one legitimate thing that my loved ones could do with my Vanguard password. I don't want to start them off on the wrong path.

Here's the right path:

http://www.vanguard.com/us/whatweoffer/ ... it-account

You can set up an Agent Authorization if you want someone to be able to view your account. Or even do transactions on your account, but I am not sure that transactions should be performed on a dead person's account before reassignment to the executor or heir. Ask Vanguard about that.

See the section "Grant access to your account":

https://personal.vanguard.com/us/litful ... C&subCat2=
User avatar
tadamsmar
 
Posts: 6363
Joined: Mon May 07, 2007 12:33 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby tadamsmar » Wed Nov 13, 2013 8:27 am

I have a one page "death page" in my lock-box along with my wills and other important papers.

It's very minimal, it simply list the names of companies holding accounts that need to be inherited.

Also, a little bit of info about avoiding some of the pitfalls of transferring inherited accounts in the case were both my wife and I die at the same time.

I'd say it's better than the death book, if only because the death book spec. seems to be written by someone who does not understand the requirements of the process. I view most of it as not needed and some of it is harmful.

On thing an executor might need that's not in the death book are the records that would allow the executor to match qualified expenses vs HSA funds. In some cases, tax-free HSA withdrawals by the executor are to the advantage of the heirs, at least this appeared to be the case that last time I checked. In general, there a bunch of records needed for a tax audit. Of course, tax audits are unlikely for most of us, perhaps. The death book mentions 2 years of records, but one could, in principle, need decades of records on qualified expenses if you used an HSA like an retirement account.
Last edited by tadamsmar on Thu Nov 14, 2013 8:01 am, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
tadamsmar
 
Posts: 6363
Joined: Mon May 07, 2007 12:33 pm

Re: Death Book

Postby Steady59 » Wed Nov 13, 2013 11:01 am

The outline I provided were merely suggestions. Obviously, the content of your book will morph and change as your needs and estate make up dictate and also by how much your heirs are involved in your estate. My main goal for the book for my two 25 year old sons was to have much of our info centralized so that they would not have to search through reams of paper or electronic files to find data that could easily be documented in one place. When they get older, I plan to have conversations wth them and review the book in person.
Steady59
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Thu May 23, 2013 3:05 pm
Location: MA

Re: Death Book

Postby exoilman » Thu Nov 14, 2013 7:32 am

I need to do more after reading the posts here. :oops:

thanks
Sam
exoilman
 
Posts: 561
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2008 1:38 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: Death Book

Postby technovelist » Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:12 am

jebmke wrote:As a TaxAide volunteer, I prepare tax returns for many widows and widowers. If you are married, do your spouse a favor and prepare a complete record of the tax basis (date and cost) for all your taxable investments, whether they are jointly held or individually held. You should make copies of all the forms 8606 (from the beginning of time) from your tax files and keep them in one place.


Why would this matter? Doesn't the step up in basis at death take care of that, other than in special situations like annuities?
In theory, theory and practice are identical. In practice, they often differ.
technovelist
 
Posts: 1674
Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:02 pm


Return to Personal Finance (Not Investing)

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: 637jr, CoAndy, Drifting Along, EddyB, fdeanw, John3754, kaneohe, leonard, packet, Set40, stoptothink, tdonline, Toons, Utahdogowner and 108 guests