Q: My husband passed away 50 days ago at age 66. He took care of everything in the house. I have no idea about his 401K, pension, social security. He passed at age 66. He worked for Rockwell International for over 30 years. I was in huge shock. He almost handled everything in the house. I need a lawyer to help me sort it out.
A: It is not unusual to need a lawyer in your situation. Most people do. At least you know that you need one. All you need to do is locate an estate attorney in your area. Ask around for a referral, talk to people who have used attorneys in these situations. What you describe should not be that complicated or expensive to handle. Rockwell should be able to help you identify his employee benefits, pension, etc., and assist you in at least getting started with the paperwork. An attorney can assist you further and with related inheritance tax and income tax issues. I am sorry for your loss but am confident you can get through this.
Q: I am the named beneficiary and I inherited my friend’s life insurance and 401k. The estate administrator is requesting I provide him with information regarding those accounts/policies so that he can add them to the estate accounting list. Am I required to provide him with that information? (Bethel Park, PA)
A: If you are listed as a beneficiary, neither asset is considered part of the estate as they pass outside the estate directly to you. The insurance policy is not subject to inheritance tax, but the 401 K may be. If the decedent’s will states that the estate pays inheritance tax on all assets, including those that pass outside the estate, then the attorney may need the information on the 401 K in order to prepare the estate inheritance tax return. If the estate is paying inheritance tax on an asset for which you are beneficiary, that is to your benefit. Therefore, unless the estate is obligated to pay the inheritance tax, I would think the attorney does not need them. These are not required to be listed on the Inventory. Perhaps the attorney just want to confirm exactly what type of asset they are. In my practice, I would rather actually see financial statements for the decedent’s assets than to take an heir’s word that they are not part of the estate and therefore nothing for me to be concerned with.