Sunday, January 15, 2006

survivors' guide for financial arrangements

The death of a spouse or a parent can be very difficult for a survivor. During this period of grief some very important financial arrangements must be made. Collecting the papers needed to file for various benefits and to finalize the estate should be the first step in arranging finances. One will need copies of the death certificate to send to many companies. Certified copies can be obtained from the funeral director or the county health department for a few dollars. One will also need copies of all insurance policies. There are many types of policies to be on the lookout for, such as life insurance, mortgage or loan insurance, accident insurance, auto insurance, credit card insurance, and employer-supplied insurance. One will also need the Social Security number of the deceased, of the spouse, and of any dependent children. If the deceased was a war veteran, one will also need a copy of honorable discharge, an item which can be obtained from the Department of Defense's National Personnel Record in Washington, D.C. A copy of the marriage certificate will be needed if the spouse is claiming any benefits. These copies can be obtained at the office of the county clerk where the marriage license was issued. Copies of the birth certificates of dependent children, if they are claiming benefits, should also be acquired. A copy of the will and a complete list of all property, including real estate, stocks, bonds, savings accounts, and personal property may be useful. After these papers have been collected it is necessary to determine what one is eligible for.
The deceased is covered by Social Security if he or she has paid in for at least 40 quarters. There are two types of benefits available if the deceased is eligible.
1. A death benefit to be used for burial expense. This payment is made to an eligible spouse or a child entitled to survivor benefits.
2. Survivor benefits for a spouse or children
a. Spouse age 60 years or older.
b. Disabled widows age 50 or older.
c. Spouse of deceased who is younger than 60 but who cares for dependent children under 16 or cares for disabled children.
d. The children of the deceased who are under 18 or those who are disabled.
These are only some of the guidelines for survival.
For a comprehensive booklet write:
AARP Fulfillment
P. O. Box 2400
Long Beach, CA 90801

For additional information write or call:
AARP
Consumer Affairs, Program Department
1909 K Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20049
(202) 872-4700

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