Unexpected Loss Financial Checklist

Losing a loved one can be overwhelming and challenging. In the event of an unexpected loss you can turn to The Hopkins Group for guidance and support. A checklist of important financial obstacles is a good place to start and we are here to help you during this difficult time.

  • Family attorney, CPA and Investment Advisor: Consult your trusted team to help settle your loved one’s estate and any final instructions that must be accommodated.
  • File the deceased’s Final Tax Return. Ensure that the executor of the estate has the information necessary to file final income tax returns. Consult with your CPA regarding the requirements for filing estate or trust income tax returns and estate tax returns.  While the 2020 federal estate tax limit is $11.58 million (more if your spouse died previously and you elected portability), the states often have much lower limits for filing.
  • Documents: Locate and review any Estate documents including a will, trust and power of attorney. Gather Financial documents including: stock certificates, title documents, bearer bonds, bank statements, brokerage statements, deeds, prenuptial agreement, life insurance policies, bank accounts, investment accounts, real-estate ownership, retirement accounts, business ownership, mortgages, owed taxes, credit card debt, unpaid bills, keys to a safe deposit box or home safe.  Collect important Personal documents including: birth certificate, marriage and divorce certificates and Social Security information.
  • Contact Employer: Determine if any outstanding compensation is due. Find out whether surviving dependents are still eligible for health or insurance benefits and whether there is a life insurance policy through the company. Let them know about benefits due to beneficiaries. Check their retirement or pension plans. Notify your employer if this is a death of a spouse which may be a “life event” that may trigger benefit decisions.
  • Social Security Administration (SSA): Contact the SSA and any other agency that might be making monthly payments to the deceased. Depending on circumstances, survivor benefits could be payable to you.
  • Veterans Administration (VA): Contact the VA if necessary, they may cover death, burial and memorial benefits. They will also stop any monthly payments that the deceased may have been receiving.
  • Heath and Life Insurance: Contact companies as soon as possible.
  • Change names: Change all property titles and remove your spouse’s name and update insurance policies. Change titles on all jointly-held bank, investment, and credit accounts. Close accounts that were in your spouse’s name only.
  • Credit Bureaus: Send a letter to all 3 major Credit Bureaus and get a copy of your loved one’s credit reports so you’re aware of all debts. The 3 major credit bureaus are EquifaxExperian, and TransUnion. Ask to have a notification in the credit report that says “Deceased – do not issue” so new credit is not taken out in their name.
  • Credit Cards: Notify credit card companies and pay off balances. Work with creditors to pay off any outstanding balances. Usually, the executor of the estate will handle debt liquidation. You are not personally liable for your loved one’s debts unless you’re married (for some debts) or are a co-signer on a loan.
  • College Loans: Call the financial aid office if you have a child in college, you may qualify for more assistance.
  • Utilities: Discontinue if the home will be vacated, ensure that utilities are shut off.
  • Mail: Arrange for the Post Office to forward mail if needed to the executor of the estate.

Rental Real Estate

The IRS issued Rev. Proc. 2019-38 to provide a safe harbor under which a real estate enterprise will be treated as a trade or business for purposes of Sec. 199A, and will qualify for the deduction. The taxpayer must maintain records, including time reports or logs. If you have rental property and you meet the requirements, a signed certification must be attached to your tax return.

The requirements are:

  1. To maintain separate books and records to reflect income and expenses for each rental and
  2. To spend at least 250 hours/year performing services with respect to the rental.

Qualified activities: advertising to rent, negotiating leases, verifying information in the tenant applications, collecting rents, maintaining the property, managing the real estate, purchasing items for the property, supervising employees or independent contractors

Non-qualified activities: arranging financing, procuring property, studying and reviewing financial statements or reports on operations, planning, managing or constructing long-term capital improvements, time spent traveling back and forth to the property