Things to Do Should I Predecease You: A Love Letter
By ELIZABETH CHRISTIAN
A longtime Covenant Presbyterian member—who wants to stay anonymous—recently wrote a love letter to his wife. This note was not hearts and flowers, it was not sentimental language, but it spoke “I love you” louder than anything imaginable.
The letter was a list of things his wife should do if the husband dies first. Not an easy conversation, but one we all should consider having. With the author’s permission, I share his checklist below. I’ve left blanks where you may want to fill in information. None of these will offer enough space, so you might create your own document and fill these in appropriately.
THINGS TO DO SHOULD I PREDECEASE YOU
- Get Death Certificates. You will need to provide death certificates to be able to transfer ownership of accounts or access survivor benefits. You would obtain these from the funeral home or the crematorium. Make sure you order enough (probably eight or 10) original death certificates as some organizations will not accept copies. You also want to know how long it will take to receive the certificates. Without the certificates “in hand,” you may not be able to do some of the items below.
- Contact Social Security. The Social Security card of the deceased (number xxx-xx-xxxx) is located in _________. Contact Social Security in Austin (800-772-1213) to stop monthly Social Security benefits for the deceased and start monthly survivor benefits for the spouse.
- File Life Insurance Claim. Contact the deceased’s life insurance company to obtain the benefits. The original of the policy is located in ___________.
- Contact the Employer or Previous Employer of the Deceased.
- Report the death of the deceased.
- Determine if there are surviving spouse pension payments.
- Determine if there is a life insurance benefit.
- Contact the Deceased’s Health Insurers. Determine how to terminate the deceased’s medical, drug, eye and dental charges.
- Call the Long-Term Care Insurer. Find how to stop long-term care coverage for the deceased. Check to see if there is any refund.
- Check on the Safe Deposit Box. Location of the key and safe deposit box number is ____________. Delete the deceased’s name as having access.
- Follow Up on Investment Assets and Bank Accounts. Location, account numbers where they are held: ___________________________________________. Have them transferred into solely your name.
- Follow up on Insurance Policies. Location of home, auto, life, and long-term care policies: _____________________.
- Decide Whether We/You Sell the House. Married couples filing jointly can exclude $500,000 of profit on the sale of their home. Keep in mind that the basis “resets” upon death of the first spouse—talk to your accountant to be sure you’ve got current information
- For single filers the exemption is $250,000.
- Profit = sales price – (original cost + all improvements + cost of selling).
- This is worthy of a conversation before the first spouse passes on.
We hope you find this helpful. If you do, cut it out and talk it through with your loved ones. Read every word how it’s meant to be read—infused with love.
For more information about Covenant Presbyterian Foundation, please visit covenant.org/foundation/ or contact Duane Dube or any Trustee: Elizabeth Christian, Everard Davenport, Larry Faulkner, Megan Poore, Helene Maham, Kristin Schell and Scott Ream.
Covenant Presbyterian Foundation supports Covenant Presbyterian Church by assisting donors to be Faithful to Generations, during and beyond their own lives, by receiving and growing their gifts, and using them to help fulfill the donors’ glorification of God.
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