When a death occurs in the family it is important to realize your attorney AND your accountant will play a vital role in administering and eventually closing the decedent’s financial affairs. The first step is to contact these professionals.
The next step is to locate paperwork. Below is a list of document copies often needed to settle an estate or trust.
- Account statements – Including bank, investment, retirement, annuity accounts, and credit card statements. Attempt to obtain the most recent copy possible.
- o At a certain stage in life it may make sense to include lineal descendants as authorized signers on checking accounts
- o It may make sense to included TOD (transfer on death) for brokerage investment accounts
- Life insurance policies
- Beneficiary designations (particularly for retirement and IRA accounts)
- o Please note retirement account designated beneficiaries supersede those designated in a will
- ▪ Example: IRA beneficiary is listed as person “A” and the will states IRA beneficiary is person “B” in this case the IRA would be inherited by person “A”
- Deeds for real estate and titles for automobiles
- Bond certificates
- Loan balances
- Loans, leases, and any applicable nuptial agreements
- Last will and testament with any applicable codicils
- Revocable living trust with any applicable amendments
- Online logins to any and all digital assets or financial institutions
Copies of bills are necessary for multiple reasons including tax purposes and identifying how they are to be paid going forward. You may need to open an estate or trust checking account to begin handling these expenses (consult advisor/attorney).
- Credit card
- Real estate tax
- Personal income tax returns (three most recent years)
- Death certificates – These should be originals and we recommend ordering at least ten
If the decedent owned or partnered in any business ventures or rental properties, documents needed may include:
- Corporate, LLC, or partnership documents
- Account statements
- Contracts, titles, licenses
- Tax returns (for one to three years when applicable)
This message did not cover when probate may be required, who is responsible for a decedent’s debts, and tax ramifications of receiving an inheritance. For these and other questions please contact your GBE advisor!