Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
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LITeacher
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Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by LITeacher » Sun Aug 05, 2018 11:13 am

Hi,

I am helping my 92 year old grandmother with the list of things she needs to do now that my grandfather passed last week. She is 92 going on 60 (in that she is VERY with-it, think Betty White type, and luckily was the one who handled all of her household finances anyway, but I am helping her create this list and then will help her get through all the items). I was hoping you guys could help me go through each of these to-do list items to see if I missed anything, and maybe answer some questions:

1. Cancel grandpa's driver's license - is this necessary? What if she just skipped this?

2. Call Kia to discuss car lease - my grandfather's car lease is up in March. My grandmother does not drive, but she does not mind paying the monthly payment until March since I drive it when I'm visiting her in Florida, but does she have to call them and tell them my grandfather passed? Or can she just continue to pay it until March and then give back the car?

3. Check homeowners if policy needs to be re-titled - They are both listed on their homeowners - is this necessary?

4. Car insurance - is the car lease still insured even if my grandfather has passed as long as my grandmother pays the policy? She is planning on paying this until March

5. Change any life insurance beneficiaries on grandma's accounts

6. Notify grandpa's life insurance policies of his death and request claim forms

6. Contact AARP to cancel grandpa's insurance

7. Contact Credit Cards to close my grandfather's cards (but make sure she is not just an authorized user on the accounts)

8. Make sure enough money in primary bank account for them to claim last SS check if she's not entitled to it

9. Call SS to receive lump-sum death payment of $255

10. Call SS to bump grandma up to grandpa's SS benefit

11. Contact Veterans Affairs to receive $300 toward burial/funeral expenses and $762 plot interment allowance - he was a WWII veteran

12. Contact Experian, Equifax, TransUnion to notify them of death and check if there are any unknown creditors

HereToLearn
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by HereToLearn » Sun Aug 05, 2018 11:59 am

Does your grandmother have your grandfather listed as her beneficiary on bank, IRA, or brokerage accounts? If so, that should be updated.

I do not know the answers to some of the car-related questions you posed, but I would start with the leasing company and call to see if she can get out of the lease early. Do you visit often enough that leasing a car would cost less than renting when you visit?

Does she own her home? This next suggestion is only needed if you think she will sell the home before she dies, and if the house has more than $250K of capital gains. If so, she should obtain a RE appraisal on the house. The cost basis for the house will become 50% of its value on date of your GF's death plus 50% of the original purchase price (plus any improvements).

I do not recall the process for having the home's title transferred to one parent, or if that is even needed.

Does she need to redraft her will?

On CC: any recurring payments to transfer before closing cards?

IIRC, death certificates were needed to accomplish some of these tasks, but it has been a number of years now, and I cannot recall the details. I do recall requesting additional copies of the death certs.

LITeacher
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by LITeacher » Sun Aug 05, 2018 12:32 pm

Thanks for the info!

I did do some digging regarding the car insurance, and I thought I'd write here in case it affects anyone else. If the deceased is the only policyholder of the car insurance (which is the case here with my grandparents), then no one will be insured in that car until the policyholder is switched over to someone living. The website I read said that usually drivers can grant permission to other people to drive their cars, and they would then be insured under their policy. A deceased driver cannot grant permission (even if it was granted before their death), and therefore they may not be covered. Most car insurance companies will give a 30-day window to do this.

aristotelian
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by aristotelian » Sun Aug 05, 2018 12:42 pm

Is she up to all this? Might be easier to give somebody else power of attorney. At 90+, I would also start thinking about getting her affairs in order.

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One Ping
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by One Ping » Sun Aug 05, 2018 12:57 pm

LITeacher wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 11:13 am

7. Contact Credit Cards to close my grandfather's cards (but make sure she is not just an authorized user on the accounts)
So, thinking a little bit about this, a couple of questions come to mind.

If she is an authorized user, what happens to her ability to use those credit cards? Presumably, she can no longer do so.

If her access to those cards goes away, because she is only an authorized user, how does a 92-year old woman with (presumably) minimal income obtain a new credit in just her name?

I'm curious because I may have to deal with this situation in the near future.

One Ping
"Re-verify our range to target ... one ping only."

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BL
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by BL » Sun Aug 05, 2018 1:17 pm

This can be overwhelming for anyone no matter how "with it" she is. Tackle the urgent items and leave less essential things for later. Major decisions should be delayed up to a year if possible.

Get a number of death certificates. You may get some back after they copy them if you ask.

Hopefully she has at least one CC with her as primary owner.

Make a list of the urgent items. Help if possible. Perhaps some payments can be set up automatically if she is ok with the idea, but she may not be if she is used to handling things herself with a checkbook.

A POA is a good idea, again if she wants it. Giving up control is not always easy. Many banks and brokerages have their own paperwork requirements vs. a POA.

Get beneficiaries updated as needed.

Maybe set up a "round file" so someone else can double-check letters before dumping them. It is easy to overlook important letters sometimes, especially in early year when tax statements arrive.

Make a list of all accounts and locations. Check titles and beneficiaries on everything and change as needed. She should change his tax-advantaged accounts to her name. Get a copy/screen shot of cost basis/capital gains in taxable ASAP, and/or look up for date of death for anything with a step-up in basis. If simplification is needed, now may be the best time to sell some of it.

In rural areas there are sometimes capital credits to collect from mutual or co-ops such as utility companies.

Find out the options on the car lease. Better to get rid of it if possible.

Good for you for looking out for her.

LITeacher
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by LITeacher » Sun Aug 05, 2018 2:13 pm

aristotelian wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 12:42 pm
Is she up to all this? Might be easier to give somebody else power of attorney. At 90+, I would also start thinking about getting her affairs in order.
She’s not doing any of it herself. I will be doing it as well as my cousin- she’ll just have to be next to me or him while we make the necessary calls.

LITeacher
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by LITeacher » Sun Aug 05, 2018 2:18 pm

One Ping wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 12:57 pm
LITeacher wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 11:13 am

7. Contact Credit Cards to close my grandfather's cards (but make sure she is not just an authorized user on the accounts)
So, thinking a little bit about this, a couple of questions come to mind.

If she is an authorized user, what happens to her ability to use those credit cards? Presumably, she can no longer do so.

If her access to those cards goes away, because she is only an authorized user, how does a 92-year old woman with (presumably) minimal income obtain a new credit in just her name?

I'm curious because I may have to deal with this situation in the near future.

One Ping
My grandmother was the primary on most of her credit cards I believe- she is the one who handled the household finances (I think only 15k out of my grandmother’s 500k in liquid assets were in my grandfather’s IRA- everything else is in bank accounts, taxable CDs, and my grandmothers IRA). She has minimal income but is worth close to 800k with her properties, The cards on which my grandfather was the primary will have to be paid and then closed- she won’t be able to use them anymore I believe, but I’m truthfully not sure if there are any.

Not sure what people do if they have minimal credit and income but I imagine there are credit cards out there that would approve people, though maybe not the best rates or biggest credit limits, but most aren’t spending that much at that age.

mbres60
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by mbres60 » Sun Aug 05, 2018 2:34 pm

When my mother passed we found out that their credit card had her as primary and my dad as an authorized user. The payments were being automatically taken out of their checking account (in another state as we had moved them closer to my sibling before my mom passed). Because the primary was now deceased we did nothing because the only thing that could be done would be to close it. We used the card for purchases for my dad so needed to keep it open. When he passed two years later we sent in a death certificate and closed the account.

Yellowjacket1
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by Yellowjacket1 » Sun Aug 05, 2018 2:43 pm

What about contacting Medicare? Did he have any supplemental insurance you need to cancel?

Is there any safe deposit box at the bank? If so, may need to transfer it to your grandmother?

Any pensions in your grandfather’s name that need to be updated?

You may want to put contacting the VA as your last priority. My father-in-law passed away in February 2016. Wife (as his executor) filed for death benefit in April 2016. We are still waiting on that death benefit.

Dottie57
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by Dottie57 » Sun Aug 05, 2018 3:05 pm

One Ping wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 12:57 pm
LITeacher wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 11:13 am

7. Contact Credit Cards to close my grandfather's cards (but make sure she is not just an authorized user on the accounts)
So, thinking a little bit about this, a couple of questions come to mind.

If she is an authorized user, what happens to her ability to use those credit cards? Presumably, she can no longer do so.

If her access to those cards goes away, because she is only an authorized user, how does a 92-year old woman with (presumably) minimal income obtain a new credit in just her name?

I'm curious because I may have to deal with this situation in the near future.

One Ping
I think credit card companies will figure out grandpa is dead. Best to convert the cards to Grandma’s or open new accounts for her.

DippityDoo
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by DippityDoo » Sun Aug 05, 2018 3:21 pm

LITeacher wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 2:13 pm
She’s not doing any of it herself. I will be doing it as well as my cousin- she’ll just have to be next to me or him while we make the necessary calls.
Sorry to hear of your loss. With so many details to attend to, please don't forget that scammers scan obituaries in search of elderly targets. It happened in my family a couple years ago. Will your grandmother be able to recognize a con artist if she gets a call when you or your cousin aren't there? If you have any doubt, it might not hurt to tape a little reminder to the phone asking her to take a name/number but divulge no information to callers who aren't family.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Sun Aug 05, 2018 6:23 pm

LITeacher wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 2:18 pm
One Ping wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 12:57 pm
LITeacher wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 11:13 am

7. Contact Credit Cards to close my grandfather's cards (but make sure she is not just an authorized user on the accounts)
So, thinking a little bit about this, a couple of questions come to mind.

If she is an authorized user, what happens to her ability to use those credit cards? Presumably, she can no longer do so.

If her access to those cards goes away, because she is only an authorized user, how does a 92-year old woman with (presumably) minimal income obtain a new credit in just her name?

I'm curious because I may have to deal with this situation in the near future.

One Ping
My grandmother was the primary on most of her credit cards I believe- she is the one who handled the household finances (I think only 15k out of my grandmother’s 500k in liquid assets were in my grandfather’s IRA- everything else is in bank accounts, taxable CDs, and my grandmothers IRA). She has minimal income but is worth close to 800k with her properties, The cards on which my grandfather was the primary will have to be paid and then closed- she won’t be able to use them anymore I believe, but I’m truthfully not sure if there are any.

Not sure what people do if they have minimal credit and income but I imagine there are credit cards out there that would approve people, though maybe not the best rates or biggest credit limits, but most aren’t spending that much at that age.
So she'll need to contact the institution that holds that IRA and notify them of his death. Is she the beneficiary? Does she have her own IRA?

ColoRetiredGirl
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by ColoRetiredGirl » Sun Aug 05, 2018 7:22 pm

Get a number of death certificates as institutions may request a copy.

As far as the leased car, I would definitely called the leader. I would be surprised if they did not require full insurance coverage on the car. If something happened to the car or God forbid you get in a car accident in the car as an unauthorized driver, your grandmother will have a mess to deal with. Returning the car now and you renting a car would be the worry free and I would think cost saving option.

Jelloanddon
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by Jelloanddon » Sun Aug 05, 2018 10:40 pm

Might be better to schedule an appointment with SS to sign up for survivor benefits. Your grandmother will need to go and show death certificate, her ID and checking account deposit slip. As a FYI, they will not speak to you unless she is on the phone and gives them permission to speak to you. Just went through this with my mom. It was such as hassle because she’s 91,hard of hearing, and does not understand English very well.

To make matters worse, although the rep at the office said all the paperwork was fine, it took 4 months before she received the benefits. Had to call numerous times and they could not figure out why it was taking so long when everything was in order. Their computer system is horrendous. Every time I called they had to go through numerous screens to find what had been done previously.

She is lucky that you are helping her. If you plan to continue to help, I would suggest that you get added as someone who has authority to speak on her behalf- on everything! Utility bills, credit cards, medical records, Medicare, Social Security.

Medicare will allow you to this over the phone (she has to be on the phone) but SS won’t. We have to go into the office and sign forms. Also have to be on the checking account that the funds will be deposited in.

HereToLearn
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by HereToLearn » Sun Aug 05, 2018 10:51 pm

Jelloanddon wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 10:40 pm


She is lucky that you are helping her. If you plan to continue to help, I would suggest that you get added as someone who has authority to speak on her behalf- on everything! Utility bills, credit cards, medical records, Medicare, Social Security.

Medicare will allow you to this over the phone (she has to be on the phone) but SS won’t. We have to go into the office and sign forms. Also have to be on the checking account that the funds will be deposited in.
You can also create an online Medicare account very easily. Provides detailed access to claims. I have needed this when dealing with my mother's LTC plan. It is faster & easier than calling.

Agree about being added to accounts.

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Peter Foley
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by Peter Foley » Sun Aug 05, 2018 10:53 pm

A couple posters have advised to get extra death certificates. I will just throw out a number. We requested 15 when my mother died in 2009. I have 4 originals left. I think we only had one or two originals returned to us.

Katietsu
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by Katietsu » Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:44 am

Peter Foley wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 10:53 pm
A couple posters have advised to get extra death certificates. I will just throw out a number. We requested 15 when my mother died in 2009. I have 4 originals left. I think we only had one or two originals returned to us.
I found out that I needed very few. Local banks looked at original, made copy and handed it back. Life insurance companies, brokerages, etc all were OK accepting a copy and often were OK with a fax or uploaded scan. So we ended up needing just a few.

Katietsu
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by Katietsu » Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:55 am

LITeacher wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 12:32 pm
Thanks for the info!

I did do some digging regarding the car insurance, and I thought I'd write here in case it affects anyone else. If the deceased is the only policyholder of the car insurance (which is the case here with my grandparents), then no one will be insured in that car until the policyholder is switched over to someone living. The website I read said that usually drivers can grant permission to other people to drive their cars, and they would then be insured under their policy. A deceased driver cannot grant permission (even if it was granted before their death), and therefore they may not be covered. Most car insurance companies will give a 30-day window to do this.
This is dependent on the state. When my father passed away, the insurance coverage continued as he lived in a state where the insurance follows the car not the driver. The insurance companies were required by state law to give a 6 month notice of cancellation once they found out about the death of the owner. I suspect this was all mainly to protect against an unintended lapse in liability coverage and that potential harm to a third party.

Anyway, the point is that there are very wide ranging differences in state law on auto insurance.

NotWhoYouThink
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by NotWhoYouThink » Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:59 am

When my MIL died, we were able to handle the social security issues over the phone. We called, with FIL on the line, to schedule an appointment for a phone call. On the day of the appointment they called right on time, and got all the information to get the final payment made. Quick, professional, and no need for a trip to the SS office. They didn't need a copy of the death certificate or any banking information. They keep pretty close track of deaths, and the banking information was the same they had been using for payments.

donall
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by donall » Mon Aug 06, 2018 8:18 am

Your grandmother is lucky to have your help. It is so much easier if there is someone there for support.
- if an obituary is published, try to make it as vague as possible and do not include last names of children or any previous names. Concentrate on the person’s accomplishments and social aspects.
- assist with funeral etc.
- obtain about a dozen death certificates, often the funeral home will do this.
- return leased car, as insurance will probably end and the lease will end. Rent a car when you visit
- if you are working with a funeral home, they often call SS. Otherwise you can call and report death. Call SS to start process for death and widow benefits. This can probably be done over the phone.
- many entities check the SS death list, but I would still call Medicare and grandfather’s health insurance co to cancel the insurance.
- Call VA
- get last credit report from all three agencies. Follow directions to write letters informing credit agencies about death. Send by registered mail.
After that there is no rush as I assume most accounts were joint. There will be lots of things to do now such as determinig transportation for grandmother, etc. Some like to have lots of activity after a death while others like to do nothing.

LITeacher
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by LITeacher » Mon Aug 06, 2018 9:34 am

Thank you everyone - tons of things to keep in mind as we help my grandmother through this already difficult time! I appreciate it!

Spirit Rider
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by Spirit Rider » Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:34 am

NotWhoYouThink wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 6:23 pm
LITeacher wrote:
Sun Aug 05, 2018 2:18 pm
I think only 15k out of my grandmother’s 500k in liquid assets were in my grandfather’s IRA
So she'll need to contact the institution that holds that IRA and notify them of his death. Is she the beneficiary? Does she have her own IRA?
If she is the beneficiary of the IRA. her RMD divisor with be 4.9 and decreasing every year, resulting in 20%+ and higher RMDs. There are important steps to take sooner rather than later for maximum tax deferral:
  • If she is the beneficiary and there are contingent beneficiaries of younger generations. She should strongly consider disclaiming the IRA. This would allow the contingent beneficiaries you use their own ages for lifetime distributions.
  • If she is the beneficiary and there are no contingent beneficiaries of younger generations. She should assume ownership rather than rolling over to an inherited IRA. If she does the former and names the youngest generation as beneficiaries. They will be able to use their ages for much longer lifetime distributions. If she does the latter, no matter the age of the beneficiaries, they will have to use her divisor as the starting point.
I realize $15K is a small amount of money, but with ~1.5% RMDs and 50 years to retirement it could accumulate to a decent amount of money for some young people.

ChicagoBear7
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Re: Help! Death of Grandfather - creating to do list for Grandmther

Post by ChicagoBear7 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 10:48 am

If your grandfather had a will, in most states, it will need to be filed with the probate court in his county of residence - even if the will is not going to be formally probated. You can do this yourself at the court house or an attorney can handle this if you are going to probate the estate or otherwise have an attorney involved. I needed to provide evidence that my father's will had been filed when claiming some escheated property from the state.

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