A free downloadable Survivor's Checklist file in Microsoft Word format is available for download. Use this Word document to draft your personal "Survivor's Checklist" for your loved ones. Locate any required documents and forms and place them in your binder with a completed copy of this form.
This is the sixth part of an eleven part series on preparing for retirement and basic estate planning for federal employees and annuitants. If you missed the last articles I suggest reviewing them to understand the estate planning binder concept that this article outlines. When I was developing my plan I wanted to make sure that the executor would be able to make sense of it all. A checklist is an ideal way to put things together in logical order and I used checklists extensively throughout my life for personal and business purposes.
The “Survivor’s Checklist” will basically guide your executor and/or surviving family through your personalized “Survivor’s Instructions & Guide” binder and help the family get things back on track after you exit. Sounds sort of callous or impersonal but it is just the opposite. You want to help your loved ones through this trying time and this is a sure way to do just that.
This checklist, like all action lists, isn’t all inclusive and is meant to augment your total estate plan including the binder, you wills and trusts, and consultations with an attorney when appropriate. It is basically a guide to help your family get familiar with your total estate; what has to be done NOW - Right Away - and point out key information, required forms, and actions.
Note: Small to average estates will find this article especially helpful. Small estates may only require a Letter of Instruction, Survivor’s Checklist, and a basic Will. I do encourage those in this category to also complete a home inventory and provide key contact information as well.
Survivors, executors and/or co-executors should review Plan Your Estate and The Executor’s Guide. Both books are located [specify location] . These books explains probate, wills and trusts and other areas that you may need additional information and guidance for. Our wills were completed using [specify software such as Willmaker Plus or the attorney that you used] and they are located [specify location] .
Note: Before submitting the SF-2800 form call the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) at 1-888-767-6738 to report my death and to check that you have the most current SF 2800 form. OPM will send out the proper forms if needed with instructions. You can also submit a report of death on OPM’s web site at https://www.opm.gov/retire. Select the tab titled “Contacting Us” then select “Report the death of someone who gets benefits from us.”
The SF 2800 form will continue your spouses’ annuity. Your spouse will receive what you originally elected when you retired. Your spouse may have agreed to a reduced survivor’s annuity at the time you retired. Your spouses’ medical coverage will continue as long as the deceased was enrolled for 5 years in an FEHB family plan prior to death and retained coverage after retiring. Complete instructions are included on the web site mentioned above. You will need to do the following:
Note: If you don’t hear back from OPM within 2 weeks call 1-888-767-6738 to follow-up. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: Jointly owned assets such as checking and savings accounts, stocks and bonds, house and cars go automatically to the surviving spouse in most states. Review the book Plan Your Estate for detailed guidance. Assets owned individually have designated beneficiaries, “Pay on Death” account designations or are passed direct to our children or loved ones through “Living Trusts” located [specify location] . Living Trusts are not recorded like the will. Read the instructions with the Living Trusts and use Plan Your Estate and The Executors Guide for more guidance.
Note: New owners need to identify beneficiaries or add POD. Be sure to add a beneficiary or POD designation for the new owner registration.