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Get your affairs in order
Old 12-11-2006, 07:03 AM   #1
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Get your affairs in order

In the recent SS spousal thread, I mentioned I had just helped an elderly relative with all the paperwork when they were newly widowed.
I thought I would post what I learned, some of which I did not know and some of which I just ignored.

A list of all your accounts and numbers to contact them should be listed. This in itself can be quite long, with 401k's, IRA's, bank accounts, stocks etc.
where you have loans, mortgages etc.
Your life insurance information, if any.
Titles to cars, deeds to houses, along with the letters banks send you to clear the title when you pay things off.
Marriage certificate to collect SS on spouses earnings.
Updated will
Burial wishes if you have any
a letter specifying if you want any of your kids to have anything specific in your house. ie, family china or jewelry.

either a safe or safety deposit box that someone knows where it is and how to get into it. In my case all my kids know. I don't know if a safety deposit box gets frozen upon death, in the situation I was involved in it did not as the spouses name was on it.


I am sure the military has specific things you need if you are the survivor.

This will make things so much easier for your survivors. Especially if you have spouse with kids at home who will be struggling to deal with emotional issues as well as financial issues.

Also, we went to an attorney specializing in wills to have a will written. I have seen many people use a do it yourself kit, but we felt that saving a few dollars now could result in headaches in the future. I don't know if that is the correct decision but I am comfortable with it.


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Re: Get your affairs in order
Old 12-11-2006, 07:28 AM   #2
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Re: Get your affairs in order

Quote:
Originally Posted by savedapile

This will make things so much easier for your survivors. Especially if you have spouse with kids at home who will be struggling to deal with emotional issues as well as financial issues.
Here is a sample letter posted by Bob_Smith two years ago.

http://early-retirement.org/forums/i...26570#msg26570

I thought it was a great idea and used it to create my own "In Case of Death or Incapacitation" letter which I update each December and give to our two daughters.

You don't really appreciate what a gift having something like this can be until you have to try to find all this information on your own.

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Re: Get your affairs in order
Old 12-11-2006, 09:47 AM   #3
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Re: Get your affairs in order

I am sorry about your loss. Thanks for reminding me that I need to update all this info and put it somewhere safe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by savedapile
either a safe or safety deposit box that someone knows where it is and how to get into it. In my case all my kids know. I don't know if a safety deposit box gets frozen upon death, in the situation I was involved in it did not as the spouses name was on it.
I've heard that a safe deposit box is the wrong place to put this stuff, because in many cases they are sealed upon death and only to be opened when the estate is being settled. So if you put a will in there, you have a catch-22.

There was a company selling adhesive, sealed, plastic envelopes for you to put your will & other information in and stick it to the inside of your refrigerator. The idea was that anyone going through your house after you die would be certain to run across it. I'm not entirely comfortable with that idea, but I can see their point.

Does anyone know first-hand about safe deposit boxes and wills? Where do you keep yours?
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Re: Get your affairs in order
Old 12-11-2006, 09:49 AM   #4
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Re: Get your affairs in order

thanks ReWahoo. I wasn't reading that far back and I did not see a more recent discussion.

I am interested in the answer to Baxters question as well.
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Re: Get your affairs in order
Old 12-11-2006, 10:15 AM   #5
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Re: Get your affairs in order

Quote:
Originally Posted by savedapile
thanks ReWahoo. I wasn't reading that far back and I did not see a more recent discussion.
Few of us read threads going back two years, I happened to recall it since I'm in the process of updating the "where to find everything" letter this week. In my opinion, it is an example of one of many gems of practical 'why the heck didn't I think of that?' information buried underneath the detritus of thousands of "Oh yeah!? Well your momma wears combat boots!" posts.

As to part of Baxter's question, we keep our original wills in a fire-resistant metal box at our house, with copies in my roll top desk. The letter mentioned above describes where they are located. I'm thinking of giving copies to our two daughters as well, since a fire could destroy both the originals and copies.

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Re: Get your affairs in order
Old 12-11-2006, 11:03 AM   #6
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Re: Get your affairs in order

Quote:
Originally Posted by savedapile

either a safe or safety deposit box that someone knows where it is and how to get into it. In my case all my kids know. I don't know if a safety deposit box gets frozen upon death, in the situation I was involved in it did not as the spouses name was on it.
I ran into this with my father who was living in Pa. He had added my name on his safety deposit box in the last year of his life. All of his important papers were in the box. I knew that Pa. would seal the box when notified of his death. So, after he died and before I notified the bank, I went to the bank and took everything out of the box. Then I gave them a copy of the death certificate. Saved a lot of trouble.

Grumpy
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Re: Get your affairs in order
Old 12-11-2006, 11:20 AM   #7
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Re: Get your affairs in order

Thanks Wahoo on linking to Bob_Smith's letter. It is also a good reminder to figure out where you have put all that stuff. The OP mentioned the marriage certificate. Neither Greg nor I have the least idea where our's is.

My FIL had his original will and other stuff in a safety deposit box in his own name only. One of his sons had a power of attorney. We pushed the limits after he died and sent the son with the POA in to empty the box, before the bank found that he had died. Once the bank finds out the sole owner has died they will refuse access because powers of attorney expire on death. It would have caused no end of problems if he wouldn't have been able to get into the box. We have a safety deposity box and we have a trusted friend who is able to access the box.

We keep our wills at our lawyers office and have told friends and relatives where the wills are.

I have heard horror stories of different children holding different original wills because old wills were not destroyed. I also have heard stories about relatives finding the original will, not liking what it says, and destroying it. Be careful out there.
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Re: Get your affairs in order
Old 12-11-2006, 11:26 AM   #8
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Re: Get your affairs in order

Quote:
Originally Posted by REWahoo!
Few of us read threads going back two years, I happened to recall it since I'm in the process of updating the "where to find everything" letter this week.
and I thought I found the answer to what do you do all day?
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Re: Get your affairs in order
Old 12-11-2006, 11:30 AM   #9
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Re: Get your affairs in order

Quote:
Originally Posted by grumpy
I ran into this with my father who was living in Pa. He had added my name on his safety deposit box in the last year of his life. All of his important papers were in the box. I knew that Pa. would seal the box when notified of his death. So, after he died and before I notified the bank, I went to the bank and took everything out of the box. Then I gave them a copy of the death certificate. Saved a lot of trouble.

Grumpy
My Dad did the same thing when Grandad kicked over. He was at the bank as soon as they unlocked the doors, and emptied Grandad's lockbox. As soon as the bank was notified of Gramps demise, they sealed the (empty) box.

Also, while he was at the bank, Dad put my name on his and my Mom's lockbox as co-owner or co-renter or whatever. When my Dad passed away, Mom and I still had access to the box...it didn't go into lock-down. And when Mom 'goes yonder' (may it be MANY years yet!!!) I'll have full access with no lock-down.

As a side note here....my aunt (Mom's sister) just passed away early this A.M. She didn't let anyone know much about her affairs, so we're starting the "joyous" adventure of trying to figure out her estate. Fortunately, her estate is QUITE small! She rented a small apartment downtown, didn't own a vehicle, and only had a small amount of money. Her boss, who has been a good friend of mine for years, has been helping her get all of her paperwork prepared for pension and SS, and has offered to tell us whatever she knows. My aunt was scheduled to retire on the 29th of this month. ....one more reason why I'm getting FIRE'd in the 1st week of April '07, @ 50!!! Life's TOO short!!
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