Administrivia – Postmortem Paperwork Proliferates

So as a public service to those who are coping with the same tedious chores or may soon be,

the Foreman family assembled a list of stuff to do, stuff almost everyone will have to do, after a loved one dies.

Death and taxes. Benjamin Franklin aptly noted that these are the only two certainties in life. Mr. Franklin perhaps should have added a footnote regarding the paperwork both certainties generate.

A New York Times blog (The New Old Age) recently published a “public service” announcement of sorts titled Death's Companion: Paperwork. The article showcases the experiences of the Foreman family as an object lesson for what one of the family members member termed “administrivia.” This in an appropriate one-word description for one family’s experience with the trials and tribulations of postmortem paperwork and minutia.

Think about it. While we are living, we establish myriad relationships with bureaucracies. Whether the IRS, Social Security, Medicare, banks, hospitals, creditors, social media platforms, car companies or gym memberships, we all have long lists of identification numbers, account numbers, customers numbers, and user passwords. And the list goes on and on. So, what happens when you die? How do all of these relationships end? How many trees must die (in the form of paperwork) to achieve legal and financial closure?

It has been said that a shortcut to wisdom is to learn from the experiences of others. Accordingly, the experiences of the Foreman family provide excellent lessons and the original article provides important pointers for you to consider in your own estate planning.

In short, proper planning is about seeing both the forest and the trees. Be sure to seek competent legal counsel to help you with the big picture when it comes to your own estate planning. However, the difference between the success or failure of any estate plan hinges on careful attention to the details.


Reference: The New York Times – The New Old Age Blog (March 15, 2012) “Death’s Companion: Paperwork

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