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When the Big Bus Comes For You and Yours

| January 16, 2019
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I have received complaints from many school bus drivers because I always say to clients, "What would happen to your family if you got hit by a bus tomorrow?" They say to me, "Why always a bus? How come you never use a cab or an Uber for your examples?"

So, in the name of fairness, "What have you done to prepare your family if tomorrow, you were hit by a bus, cab, Uber, Lyft, train, or falling piece of the Space Lab?"

Here are some thoughts to tuck away until immediately after this happens. Your family will have a lot of accounts to close, maybe some insurance policies to claim, perhaps there will be debts to pay. Do yourself a favor and get multiple, certified, copies of the following three forms:

1)      Original death certificates. You, your attorney, the CPA, and, most importantly, your financial advisor – everyone -- will need a genuine death certificate to begin to unravel your estate. (Of course, you will probably be out of this mess, since you would be dead.) About half the time a copy of the death certificate will suffice, but you won’t know which half in advance. Recently, the executors of an estate we were assisting tried to close two different bank accounts using copies of the death certificate. One bank printed out the check and the other bank stalled until it got the certified version. You just never know. So, get twenty – or more – original death certificates. Don't skimp. 

           Bonus Point: Enclose a self-addressed stamped envelope when mailing the certificate to get the certificate sent back. What’s a first class stamp these days: 47, 49, 53, 58… cents?

2)      Short Forms. The county will establish the executor(s) of the estate with an official document (once it cashes your check -- everyone's getting paid.) This tells the banks, insurance companies, etc. the executor speaks for the estate. Unfortunately, here too, a copy won’t cut it some or most of the time. Make sure you obtain ten or more copies of this form with a legible seal from the issuing authority. Each may cost a small amount of money but then you will have them when you need them. They expire, so you might have to order ten now and then ten more after ninety days. If you need more, the executor will have to send a letter to the county clerk with a check and a self-addressed stamped envelope requesting additional certified copies. Being an executor is no longer much fun after about the third day.

3)      Estate Delegation. Often the Executor has a day job and has neither the time nor the experience to run around closing accounts and paying bills. In this case, it pays to have twenty copies of an authorization permitting the attorney, accountant, financial advisor, whomever, to act for the Executor.

So, there are some tips for dealing with the death of a loved one, or preparing loved ones for your death.

At KeyAMS, we continuously inform you of these practical matters because just knowing this, or knowing where to turn to, can save you a lot of anxiety and wasted time. That's what we do. We make you the "Master of your Financial Universe," enabling you to have a strategy for facing whatever life throws your way.                                          

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