Other Facts About Estate Settlement

You also should be aware of the other procedures involved in estate settlement.

Here is a quick review of some of them. Your attorney, as well as the organizations mentioned, can provide more details. Contact us to discuss your specific situation so that we can find ways to help!

  • Transferring property. When thinking about transferring your property, what probably first comes to mind are large assets, such as stock, real estate and business interests. But you also need to consider more basic assets:
  • Safe deposit box contents. In most states, the bank seals the box as soon as it learns of the death and opens it only in the presence of the estate’s personal representative.
  • Savings bonds. The surviving spouse can immediately cash in jointly owned E bonds. To cash in H and E bonds registered in the deceased’s name but payable on death to the surviving spouse, they must be sent to the Federal Reserve.

Do you think that you or the surviving spouse may be eligible to receive benefits?

It may be possible! The following benefits may provide additional income or death benefits a surviving spouse:

  • Social Security benefits. For the surviving spouse to qualify, the deceased must have been age 60 or older or their children must be under age 16. Disabled spouses can usually collect at an earlier age. Surviving children can also get benefits.
  • Employee benefits. The deceased may have insurance, back pay, unused vacation pay, and pension funds the surviving spouse or beneficiaries are entitled to. The employer will have the specifics.
  • Insurance they may not know about.
    Many organizations provide life insurance as part of their membership fee. They should be able to provide information.

Do you think you may have potential estate taxes?

The next step is to understand some estate tax basics. First you need to get an idea of what your estate is worth and whether you need to worry about estate taxes, both under today’s rates and as exemptions increase over the next several years.

How much is your estate worth?

The first step is to list all of your assets and their value, including cash, stocks and bonds, notes and mortgages, annuities, retirement benefits, your personal residence, other real estate, partnership interests, life insurance, automobiles, artwork, jewelry, and collectibles. If you are married, prepare a similar list for your spouse’s assets. And be careful to review how you title the assets, to include them correctly in each spouse’s list.