I am trying to get a copy of my grandmother’s death certificate so that I can close an account that has both my mother and my grandmother named as owners.
This is turning into a bureaucratic nightmare.
It seems that having a birth certificate listing my mother as…well, my mother, and a death certificate listing my mother’s mother as my grandmother does not suffice to establish that I am, indeed, my grandmother’s granddaughter.
I have to send them a copy of my mother’s birth certificate.
Which, of course, I don’t have.
I have plenty of copies of her death certificate…
My paralegal passed me on to her local “investigative services” company. They listened to my tale of woe and said that, alas, it would be just as quick for me to order a copy of my mother’s birth certificate.
In order to get a copy of my mother’s birth certificate, I had to send a copy of my birth certificate. And submit a “Sworn Statement and notarized Certificate of Acknowledgement”, which required a visit to the local bank to get it notarized. And pay more money. And wait more time. Oh, yes, and I couldn’t upload the document…I had to fax it.
So, out of all this, some financial advice for all and sundry:
- If you’re going to just pass your money on to your kids, put them as beneficiaries on all your financial instruments. Alas, there was a mixup in communications with my mom, and she thought we had put me on all her accounts as “pay on death”, but it was only the accounts at one bank and none of the investment accounts. It was so nice to have the real estate in beneficiary deeds—all we had to do was record mom’s death with the county, and her properties were automatically distributed as noted in the beneficiary deeds.
- Another option is to do a living trust, into which you write all your financial instruments. That way, you have dealt with all the paperwork, and your heirs will not need to do anything.
- If you have an account that has a co-owner who has died, get that person’s name off the account pronto. Oh, it is so easy to let these things slide—after all, don’t we all have plenty of time?
- If you have stocks and bonds that you have purchased in small amounts, and have those certificates, you can always put them into an investment account and name people as beneficiaries, rather than having the certificates sitting in a safe deposit box.
- Once again, if someone is named as a co-owner of your stocks or bonds and passes away, immediately remove their name(s). Once again, this would be easier if you had them in an investment account; that’s what the investment people are paid to do.
- If you’re going to be the executor of someone’s estate, and you’re going through various papers and see something, like, oh, say, a person’s birth certificate, or an original death certificate, grab it and put it in your ever-so-vital “estate folder”. Do not say to yourself, “Oh, there’s mom’s birth certificate! Wow!” and then put it right back where you found it. Which place you will not be able to remember, and, furthermore, which place may be many many many miles away from you when you need that document again.
All stuff I have learned this past six months. Sigh. Now all I have to do is wait for mom’s birth certificate, at which point I can close that account, transfer it to the estate account, put the stocks and bonds into the estate account, and then divvy it all up. It’s not like it’s a whole helluva lot of money, but the fact that it was in bits and pieces made it more difficult.