Tip of the week: a death in a client’s family, part 1
With the death of a loved one, whether expected or not, clear-headed thinking often goes out of the window, and many practical steps that need to be taken may be overlooked.
Here’s a list of actions you can suggest to clients under these circumstances, supplied by the experts at H.D. Vest. Note that the list is not all-encompassing, but it represents a good place to start. Also, responsibility for the various actions can be divided among family members and close friends of the deceased.
1. Contact immediate family. Depending on the number of family members, your client may need to ask for help with this task.
2. Explore whether the loved one intended to donate organs. This is often a very difficult topic to broach, but arrangements need to be made almost immediately to ensure the viability of donated organs. Check the deceased driver’s license or their advanced health care directive.
3. Arrange the care of dependents and pets. If the deceased had any dependent children or pets, make arrangements for their care until permanent plans are put into place.
4. Begin funeral or memorial arrangements. It may be helpful to get other family members involved if the decedent did not make their wishes known, or if the decedent made an unreasonable request. Factors to consider:
- Did the deceased make any written or verbal wishes?
- Did they prepay any funeral costs?
- Are they eligible for VA benefits? Veterans, service members and their dependents can be buried in a national cemetery for free, or the estate may be eligible for a burial allowance.
- What is affordable? Contact the funeral home to determine costs.
- What will help the family most with the grieving process?
5. Submit an obituary to the deceased’s local paper and, if appropriate, pertinent social media. If your client wishes to have charitable donations made in lieu of flowers, you can make that known in the obituary.
6. Call the deceased’s employer, if they were working. Notify them of the death and request information about benefits and any pay due. Ask whether there was a life insurance policy through the company.
7. Track any donations, flowers or cards received so acknowledgments can be sent after the funeral.
8. Secure the deceased’s physical property, i.e. jewelry, artwork, furniture, etc. It is the executor’s responsibility to have these assets appraised, inventoried and filed with the probate court within 90 days following death. This will be a very difficult task if the articles have already been distributed.
Although it may be difficult to approach a client during a time of crisis, the client will appreciate your desire to be helpful, whether or not they choose to have much of a conversation with you at the time.
HD Vest Financial Services® is the holding company for the group of companies providing financial services under the HD Vest name.
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