Tag Archives: beneficiary

Have you collected the Social Security benefits to which you may be entitled?

You worked hard your whole life and paid money into the Social Security program evey month. So did your spouse. And now that you are both retired, you are relaxing, enjoying life and collecting a benefit check every month.

But Social Security benefits are not just for retirement. They are for widows and widowers, too. That’s right. Some of the money you paid into Social Security during your working life goes to survivor’s insurance from which you may one day be entitled to collect benefits. The amount of those benefits is based on lifetime earnings.

It is important to know that the surviving spouse is not the only one who can collect benefits. Surviving minor or disabled children are eligible as well.

Diesmart has received questions from widows and widowers who want to be sure they have collected all of the pension benefits to which they are entitled. However, they usually either forget or don’t know that they are leaving money on the table when they don’t file for Social Security survivor benefits as well.

Don’t forget to contact the Social Security administration to find out what steps you need to take to collect benefits to which you are entitled. www.ssa.gov/survivorplan/ifyou.htm

For more information about death benefits, go to www.diesmart.com.

Do your frequent flier miles live on after you’re gone?

The New York Times recently did research to find out and the answer was far from consistent.

Only two airlines contacted have a specific, written policy that allows your miles to be transferred to a surviving family member – American and US Air. On the American Airlines site, in the section titled “Earning AAdvantage Miles”, they outline their specific policy. US Air states their policy under General Terms and Conditions.

One airline, JetBlue, said that they don’t have a specific policy but, after receiving a death certificate and other documentation, will transfer the miles to a beneficiary.

Southwest Airlines has a specific policy – it does not allow transfer of any miles after the death of a RapidRewards member.

Delta’s policy is to not transfer miles. However, upon request of a SkyMiles member’s surviving family member, they may make an exception and move the miles to their account.

United also said their policy is that miles are not transferable upon death. However, MileagePlus evidently has a form that can be completed to request transfer of miles from a deceased member’s account to that of a beneficiary. Along with the completed form, a copy of the death certificate and a $75 fee must be submitted.

If you have a lot of unused frequent flier miles, you might want to specifically bequeath them in your will. However, the airline holding them is still not legally required to give them to the beneficiary of it is against their company policy.

What’s the easiest thing to do? Make sure your frequent flier miles are on an airline that will allow your family to inherit them or start travelling more now, using up that bank of valuable miles while you can.

For more information about what happens to your assets when you’re no longer around, go to www.diesmart.com.

Is planning your own funeral a good idea?

You may not know when you’re going to die, but you know for sure it will happen.

A little advance planning of your own funeral — or that of a loved one — can make that traumatic time when you die a little easier on your loved ones.

Pre-planning funerals is getting more common as many people prefer to decide on the details of the last celebration of their life themselves. If you decide to do this, talk to your parent or spouse or other family and friends about your funeral wishes at an appropriate time, probably not during an argument or over a holiday dinner. Tell your adult children what you’re thinking about.

Here are some things to consider:

1. Are you thinking about a standard viewing and funeral?
2. Do you have a cemetery plot?
3. Would you prefer cremation?
4. Do you have enough money to pay for big event?
5. Do you want your death notice to read like a biography or will you be satisfied with a published statement of your dates of birth and death?
6. Do you want a video or slide show to be shown during visitation hours? Or do you want a photo board to help mourners remember earlier times?
7. Do you want masses of flowers or would prefer that money be donated to a charity instead?
8. Is there something special you want at your funeral – like your grand piano or motorcycle?

All of the above comes at a cost. A funeral varies depending on the services provided. Cremations generally cost about $4,000. A burial the day after a viewing can be as much as $10,000. The cost of cemetery plots today begins at about $900, but can be several thousand dollars in a major metropolitan area. And you can spend $8,000 or more on a casket.

If you decide on cremation, your ashes can be placed in an urn and then in a mausoleum, or stored or disposed of however you wish.

Whatever you decide to do, if you preplan and let your loved ones know your wishes, you know that your last celebration of life will be the way you want it to be.

For more information about funeral planning, go to www.diesmart.com.

Does a loan live on after death?

Although the person is dead, the loan may live on for years…or until it’s paid off. In some instances, death cancels the loan but this is rare. In some states, the next of kin doesn’t just inherit the estate. He inherits the debt as well and is required to pay the debt.

If someone cosigned the loan with the deceased, that person is responsible for the debt. Some loans, such as federal student loans, contain a clause that cancels the loan in the event of the death of the person who signed it.

Private lenders vary on their policies so heirs will have to check the note carefully to find out whether their liable for the debt.

If the loan has been secured with real property, it must always be repaid. Either the bank will repossess the property to cover payment or whoever has inherited that real property will have to pay off the note.

Sometimes banks or other financial institutions will give the cosigner or other family member a few months to decide how to pay off the loan so it’s important to speak with a financial officer quickly so a solution can be discussed.

If the original borrower purchased credit life insurance which pays off the loan in the event of death, there is no problem. The heirs get to keep their inherited property and the loan is paid.

Be sure you know the terms of any loan you take out and what the impact of this loan may be on your heirs if you die before it’s been paid off. Otherwise, you may be leaving your heirs with an unwelcome inheritance – a debt.

Do You Have a Succession Plan for Your Small Business?

You probably have a will and/or a trust that covers what you want done with your personal assets when you die. But do you have a formal succession plan for your small business?

According to the Small Business Administration, about 90% of businesses are owned by a family. And about 90% of those family business owners believe that their business will be kept in the family when they can no longer run it. However, according to the Family Business Institute, only about 30% of family and businesses survive into the second generation.

Planning for your succession is critically important and has implications for your employees, business structure, assets and tax obligation, but it isn’t easy.

You should think about who you want to take over your business if something happens to you. Choosing someone to replace you as head of your organization may be as simple as appointing a family member who has been working in the business. On the other hand, there may be several people from whom you will have to choose and each may have different strengths and weaknesses. The correct decision is vital; it may cause family conflict and turmoil which, in turn, may impact the continued success or future failure of the company.

Another thing to think about is whether you want to sell your business to family members or just give it to them. This may have tax implications for your estate and for those family members.

If you have partners, do you have a buy/sell agreement with them?

There are several different business succession planning strategies. Make sure you speak with an estate planner who is skilled in this area, explore the options and create the plan that will be the best option for your small business.