Tag Archives: Probate

Was he really dead?

3A2835D300000578-0-image-a-51_1491259777945Sir Jimmy Young, a radio DJ in the UK, died in November 2016 at age 95.  He left an estate worth more than 2.7 million pounds and a bizarre last request.

In his will, Jimmy requested that his dead body be given a lethal injection before burial because he had a fear of being buried alive.

It’s not know whether the request was carried out though he was really dead before his interment.

Whether you have a weird request or not, be sure to prepare your will and to include any of your special wishes.  If they’re not included, your loved ones may not know about them and may not be able to fulfill those wishes.

For more information about end of life planning, go to www.diesmart.com.

Do you know your spouse’s passwords?

Ann

A recent article in the Huffington Post really emphasized why you need to be sure to learn your spouse’s passwords…while he or she is still alive to tell you what they are.  The article, titled “I’m Still Paying For My Dead Husband’s Cell Phone Because I Don’t Know His Childhood Friend’s Name”, is printed here in its entirety.

The photo is of the author, Ann Brenoff, and her now deceased husband.

“Make a record of your passwords, folks.

Until I became widowed two months ago, I thought death was a finality. After it happened, I would have the time and space to mourn. I’ve since learned that death is actually followed by a long web of subscriptions, billing services and other minutia ? along with a series of arguments with customer service professionals reading from scripts. 

Unraveling my husband’s life has been a complicated problem, primarily for one reason: His passwords were not in his “important papers” file. 

As a result, my access to his personal accounts is limited, and depending on the company with which I’m dealing, the malarky of what passes for customer service is off the charts.

Take for example his cell phone carrier, a global company with 40,000 employees, none of whom apparently work on weekends. They won’t stop billing me for his phone service because I can’t get into his account to cancel it. I don’t know his password.

And I can’t override the password with his account’s security question ? the first name of his first childhood friend. Vic was 81 when he died ? I feel safe suspecting that he probably wouldn’t have remembered this name either.

Recently, a customer service rep offered me this option: Drive to a company store to “authenticate” my husband’s account, bring his driver’s license, Social Security number, death certificate and our marriage license. For real. Oh, and then call him back because I clearly must have plenty of time on my hands. Mind you, they are still billing my credit card while giving me the run-around. 

Death certificates are the key to the universe.

The root of dealing with all post-death matters is having a copy of a certified death certificate. You can do nothing without one. The best advice anyone gave me was to order multiple copies because everyone, including the gas company, wants one.

Getting a death certificate, at least in Los Angeles, is best accomplished by rising before dawn, taking a day off work and going in person with plenty of quarters for the parking meter. And don’t forget to bring your own pen; things are a little tight at our government offices these days.

Once armed with copies of my husband’s death certificate, I set out to move all his accounts into my name and square away the mountain of paperwork that comes with the end of life. And while it’s certainly been a journey of discovery ? we’ve been spending how much on premium cable so he could watch Cubs games from Los Angeles? ? it has pitted me against more than one instance of corporate absurdity.

Customer service is a contradiction of terms.

Take for example the bank that wouldn’t switch our account notifications to my email from his. We have banked with them for decades and all our accounts are jointly held with survivor rights. Even worse, the bank has his cell phone number on file ? yes, the one I hope to get rid of. 

The cable company, usually the boogeyman of the utility companies we deal with, turned out to be not-so-bad. I just had to threaten to not pay them if they didn’t switch the name on the account. Ditto for the propane company. 

Credit cards are generally pretty happy to remove names. The mail-order pharmacy, not so much, especially when automatic refills are involved. Eventually, every automatic refill will outlive its subscriber and medications aren’t returnable. Who wins in this scenario? 

Car insurance, his driver’s license, his Social Security and Medicare, his magazine subscriptions and his airline miles ? flash that death certificate and you are good to go. 

But the ability to cancel his cell phone service? That one remains elusive.

Widowhood is not for the weak. One minute, you’re fine and the next you’re a raving lunatic. You curse your dead spouse when you have a flat tire, when you just don’t have the energy to drive your kid to the school bus stop and no one else is around to help. It can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders and you just want one thing ? just one ? to be easy. Like, you know, canceling a cell phone plan.”

For information about end of life planning, check out our website www.diesmart.com.

Can it happen here?

thDN8XDHBYA recent story from the United Kingdom talked about the rise of family feuds related to inheritance.  The number of cases – 116 – reaching the High Court in 2015 broke all past records.

According to a British law firm, the rise in cases is due to the “intricacies of modern family life and rising property prices.”  This increased complexity means that there is a larger pool of potential claimants for every estate.  There is a big risk that someone will feel left out and bring a claim.

In addition, people living together outside of marriage may be left out in the cold if their significant other dies without a will.  The estate will most likely go to their blood relatives, not to their partner.  A claim might be the only way to possibly address this issue.

Furthermore, people may marry more than once and if there are children or stepchildren involved, there’s a good chance that someone will feel wronged.  A spouse may intend for their own blood children to inherit their assets, but they die first and, eventually, everything goes to surviving spouse’s children.  The blood children of the first to go spouse get nothing.

One famous British case involved an estranged daughter who successfully battled her mother’s decision to leave money to animal charities.  In the end, she received about one third of her mother’s estate.

Can this type of inheritance feud happen in the United States?  Absolutely.  If you don’t want it to happen to you or your loved ones, make sure you have a will and have clearly, legally documented your wishes while you’re still alive to do so.

For more information about planning for the end of your life, check out our website www.diesmart.com.

 

Don’t want to go into the funeral home – try drive-thru viewing

drive thruIt is not a new concept but now Ryan Bernard of Memphis is joining the drive-thru visitation service trend. 

When Bernard bought an old bank building in Memphis to use for a funeral home, he found a unique use for the drive-thru window.  Guests can view the deceased’s body through a bullet-proof window.  If they don’t want to fuss with parking and getting out of the car or are afraid of funeral homes, guests can just drive up and pay their respects.  They can sign an iPad guest book and spend approximately 3 minutes alone with the body.

The drive-thru concept is a free add-on offered to people when they are planning a funeral.

According to Bernard, he’s gotten a mostly positive reaction although some people have said they find it disrespectful.

His facility, R. Bernard Funeral Services, has already added live streaming of funerals and will continue to add innovative concepts.  He said, “The funeral industry is always changing every year. I keep the old traditional funeral stuff and try to add new stuff to it,” Bernard said. “I am 41 years old. I am not out just to market to the grandmas and grandpas, I am trying to get the millennials and the Baby Boomers too.”

Whether you want to add non-traditional elements to a funeral or just plan an “old fashioned” one, for more information go to www.diesmart.com.

What happens to your small business after you die?

imagesVG6IEGM7You may have a will or a trust that covers the disposition of your personal assets after you die.  If you own a small business, those documents are not enough.  There must be a separate plan put in place to  insure that your business will continue when you’re gone.

It’s a good idea to consult an attorney but, before you do, you should ask yourself and those involved in the business with you the following questions:

  • After your death, do you want the business to continue?
  • Who do you want to run the business?
  • Does that person want to run the business or have the skills to do so?
  • If you have children, do you want one running the business with the other(s) sharing in the profits?
  • Do you have partners to consider?
  • What’s the best way to transfer ownership?

If your spouse or children are going to take over the business, transferring your interest to them is fairly simple.  It can be more complicated if you want someone outside of your family  to run the business.  Whoever you decide is the right person to manage your company, you definitely should make plans that will allow the business to continue running while avoiding probate proceedings.

Two common ways to transfer business assets and operations are:

  • Key Man Insurance:  Either the business takes out an insurance policy on each owner’s life or a cross-purchase arrangement occurs in which each partner takes out life insurance for each other, using the proceeds to purchase your share when you die. This ensures the company avoids a drain on the business’s cash and allows for an injection of cash in order to fulfill a buy/sell agreement.
  • Buy/Sell Agreement: This agreement can be automatically triggered upon your death and provide that your interest in the business can be acquired from your estate, leaving your beneficiaries with the proceeds from the sale. This allows your business to continue running smoothly, with the same people in control, except for you.

However you decide to plan for the continuation of your small business, the important thing is to make a plan now, before it’s too late.

For more information about estate and other end of life planning, go to www.diesmart.com.