No one knows what tomorrow might bring. This saying underlines a profound meaning about the abruptness of death. When death occurs in the family, family members will often experience an initial state of denial and shock. When they come around to accept the irrevocable situation, the next course of action is to settle the deceased’s estate.
The first step is to check if the deceased has written a Will; a search can be done through the Wills Registry. If there is a Will in place, the Executor will have to apply for a Grant of Probate to distribute the estate in accordance to the Will. The Executor is a person named in the Will to oversee the distribution of the estate.
What to do ON THE DAY
- Collect the death certificate and make multiple copies of it.
- Sort out funeral matters. Have a serious discussion with your family members regarding the appropriate funeral arrangement, as funeral rites and arrangements can run into tens of thousands of dollars if not planned properly. Sometimes, the deceased person’s will may communicate the type of funeral arrangement he/she wanted.
What to do ONE WEEK AFTER
Begin to settle deceased’s financial matters by:
- Making an inventory of deceased’s assets and liabilities.
- Officially inform financial institutions CPF and IRAS about the death.
- Call up the deceased’s financial representative to sort out life insurance claims.
- Initiate application for a Letter of Administration or Grant of Probate (if necessary).
- If estate value is less than $50,000, you may contact Public Trustee office to administer the estate.
- If the deceased was a business owner, initiate liquidation if there is no successor; or activate the Business Succession Plan (e.g. the Buy-Sell Agreement) if there is one.
What to do ONE MONTH AFTER
- You should expect to receive a Letter of Administration or Grant of Probate.
- Follow up with the settlement processes that are in progress.
- Keep an eye on the letters that are addressed to the deceased (especially bills). Rearrange GIRO facilities if necessary.
- Terminate subscriptions and automated payments that are no longer in use.
- Prioritise mortgage and property settlement (especially if it involves the family home). Inform the mortgage bank that insurance proceeds are coming in to assure the bank of the continual credit worthiness of the surviving mortgagor. If there are no insurance proceeds, the surviving mortgagor needs to figure out which assets should to be liquidated in order to raise funds.
What to do TWO MONTHS AFTER
- The Executor can start calling in assets and settling liabilities.
- Open a bank account under the estate’s name to manage the estate settlement.
- Estate creditors will have the first priority to the estate. Subsequent priority will go to the beneficiaries named in a valid will. If there is no will, the distribution is to be done according to the Intestate Succession Act.
- Close the estate and move on.
For more insights on what to do in different circumstances, do visit http://estateplanning.com.sg/estate-settlement/ to know more.
As you can see, the settlement process requires plenty of groundwork and it all begins by having a Will in place. Plan ahead so both you and your loved ones can have the peace of mind knowing your wishes and intentions are kept to.
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