We all know that death is inevitable, but still very few of us care about making a plan for handling the financial decisions the surviving spouse or family will need to make.
By Kalpana Pandey
We all know that death is inevitable, but still very few of us care about making a plan for handling the financial decisions the surviving spouse or family will need to make. Avoiding the discussion around death is understandable, but eventually, life continues, lenders want their money, and the management of assets needs to continue. Here are five tips that can help ensure a smooth transition.
Obtain death certificates
Almost all the financial institutions will require a death certificate whether you want to close accounts, claim insurance, transfer loans or sell the deceased’s property or investments. Tip: Make sure the details are the same as in your spouse’s Aadhaar or PAN card and get at least 10 certified copies of the death certificate.
Organise financial documents
Divide the documents into four heads: assets, liabilities, expenses and income. These include bank-related papers (savings accounts/deposits, debit cards, credit cards), insurance (life, health, vehicle, property), investments (insurance, stocks and mutual funds, savings schemes and fixed deposits), utility bills and account numbers (electricity, gas, phone, Internet), taxation (property/ income tax), property papers, loan and EMI documents, clubs and other memberships, among others. Get a copy of your spouse’s credit reports to understand all existing debts.
Tip: Collect employment documents if your spouse was working. Many a time people fail to contact the employer and claim insurance and other benefits due to their spouse.
Pay your EMIs and dues on time
Make sure you create a plan to pay all your dues and liabilities on time.
Some common expenses include credit card bills, insurance premiums, utility bills, mutual fund SIPs, advance and other tax dues, loan EMIs, subscriptions and membership fees, among others. Tip:
Be extra cautious about the terms of credit card accounts or overdraft loans.
Contact financial institutions
One of the biggest moves that need to be made after the loss of a spouse, is informing and moving of assets from the name of the deceased person to the name of the surviving spouse. This includes everything from banks to insurers to companies where investments have been made and tax department. Tip: Hire a lawyer or a financial planner who can get these processes taken care of in a timely matter.
Change ownership or title
Every institution has its own set of rules and it is advisable to get oneself acquainted with it. Here’s what you need to do:
Bank account: Remove your spouse’s name from any joint accounts and close any accounts that were in your spouse’s name only. If you had a long-term joint account with good standing, it is a good idea to keep it open.
Insurance: Contact all the insurers that may have issued policies to your spouse which includes life insurance, auto insurance, credit card insurance, accident insurance etc. The amount can be paid directly to the nominee or the legal heir. These claims are processed quickly and can be an important source of income for you.
Vehicle transfer: The title of the car owned by your spouse may need to be changed. You will have to transfer the ownership of the vehicle by making an application to the nearest RTO, along with the required documents.
Investments: For transferring investments apart from property, you have to fill up the required forms and submit a death certificate along with identity/residence proofs if you are a nominee. Else, you will have to obtain a succession certificate.
The writer is MD & CEO, CRIF High Mark