Grieving a Loss? Resources to Help You Cope

Grief is a painful process and one that everyone deals with in very different ways.  When we lose someone close to us, we enter a world of grief and mourning.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve or official mourning period. The way in which you grieve is the way you need to in order to get through this difficult time.

There are said to be different stages of grieve that include: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Many books have been written about these stages such as Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ “On Death and Dying.”  Kubler-Ross’ main theory is that no two people experience these five stages in precisely the same way. For some, denial can take minutes; for others, decades.

Another helpful book is written by Rabbi Maurice Lamm, “The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning.” Rabbi Lamm explores a myriad of issues connected to grief and mourning. He writes about the process of mourning and how we deal with the death of a close relative as time goes by. He says at one point we experience an uncommon confusion, a dislocation, a form of discontinuity. We are disoriented. “Disorientation” is what grief is all about when we are now struggling to deal with this new reality and life without our loved one.

Now more than ever, our loved ones need our support. The most important thing you can do for a grieving person is simply be present. Your support and caring will help a loved one during this difficult time and help him or her begin to heal.

What Is Grief Counseling? Techniques and How It Helps: https://online.maryville.edu/blog/grief-counseling

There are many other books and resources to consult during the healing process. Visit the website of the National Association of Chevra Kadisha for a list resources and educational materials:  https://www.nasck.org/resources-education.

There are many helpful organizations and websites, such as https://grief.com  that provide support to people who are mourning. Many synagogues and Jewish communities have grief support groups, which are often coordinated through the local Jewish federation. Visit to learn more:  https://www.jewishfederations.org.

Dealing With A Jewish Death

Introduction

Adjusting to the death of a loved one can be a very difficult process. This article is provided to help you deal with the problems and processes surrounding a death in the easiest and simplest manner possible.

Although some major decisions are unavoidable at this time, many can be put off until you are feeling less vulnerable. When a death has occurred, there is usually a need to administer the estate of the decedent. Every estate should be considered unique and not all estates will have administrative duties. Some small estates, under particular circumstances, will not even require administration.

If there are multiple beneficiaries or heirs, make every effort to keep them informed of your actions on their behalf and consult with them, if possible, especially where there is no Will.

The responsibility will be great and the anxiety will remain for months but through careful planning, expert advice and family support, you can resolve the duties in a manner that will provide you with personal satisfaction.

This article is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a legal counsel or an accountant, which should be sought on specific manners. It has been provided by the Tribute Foundation of the New York State Funeral Directors Association.

 

After the Funeral, Now What

Death Certificates:

You will need several copies of certified death certificates. The easiest way to obtain a copy is to ask the funeral director for assistance. The cost of each copy varies by county; $10 to $30 each.

Caring for the Deceased’s Property:

When a person dies, it is important to account for the deceased person’s property, making sure it is safe and protected. If the person lived alone, make arrangements to stop newspaper deliveries and have mail forwarded or held at the post office for daily pickup.

The matter of who will inherit the deceased’s property is determined by the estate planning arrangements that were made by the person during their lifetime.

Immediate Financial Concerns

At some point after the funeral, there will be financial concerns that will need to be dealt with. Listed below are some of the items you should expect will need to be handled:

  • Utility Bills: Make sure to pay utility bills to ensure continued service.
  • Medical Bills: These bills are often covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or a medical insurance.
  • Long Term Debts: Be sure to make regular payments on long term debts such as mortgages, car loans, or retail installment contracts until the estate settles.
  • Access to Bank Accounts: If the deceased was the only one authorized to sign, the monies at banks or financial institutions may not be immediately available.
  • Stocks and Bonds: US Savings Bonds are often payable upon death.
  • Stock Shares: Consult a stockbroker or legal/financial advisor for more information.
  • Safe Deposit Box: Anyone who has the right of access to that box may open that box. Make accurate records of any contents that are removed.
  • Life Insurance: Proceeds are usually paid to the name beneficiaries within a few weeks after filing the required forms.
  • Inventory of Assets: Compile a very complete and detailed listing of all the assets of the deceased, the value at time of death, and the "fair market value".
  • Real Estate: It would be wise to consult a Real Estate Agent or Appraiser at this time.
  • Stocks and Bonds: List all shares of stock, bonds, notes payable to the deceased and other securities.
  • Cash/Financial Institutions: List the exact name of for each account, the account number, branch and balance.
  • Insurance: List all policies which pay benefits upon the death, including life, mortgage, or credit insurance.
  • Miscellaneous assets, such as motor vehicles, boats, furniture and furnishings, jewelry, and employment benefits.
Transfer of Estate Property

Probate is the technical, legal term for distribution of the deceased person’s estate under the supervision of the court. It is designed to protect all those who have an interest in the deceased’s property, such as immediate family, joint tenants, creditors and the taxing authorities.

Is Probate Necessary?

In many cases, probate proceedings are not necessary to transfer property of the deceased to persons entitled to it. Depending on a variety of factors, probate may be necessary or preferable. Consultation with a legal advisor is recommended. The probate procedures in New York State are relatively simple and in most cases require very little court intervention.

Appointment of an Executor or Administrator.

This person takes charge of the property, its distribution, and the filing of necessary papers in Court. Often times, an Executor is named in the Will. If there is no Will, the Court will usually appoint a surviving spouse or relative to serve as Administrator of the decedent’s Estate.

Executor Responsibilities

Provide proof to the Probate Court that the Will is valid and is the last Will of the deceased.

Provide written notice of probate proceedings to all known distributes and beneficiaries.

Give actual notice of the deceased’s death to the U.S. Social Security Administration and any other state, private agency, or company that the decedent may have been receiving periodic payments from their lifetime.

After all these steps have been taken, the Court will issue letters Testamentary to the Executor of the Estate and the Executor can do whatever is necessary to then administer the estate in accordance with the decedent’s Will. That includes appraising property, investing and managing assets, paying creditors, filing and paying taxes, and transferring assets.

File receipts and releases from the beneficiaries and a report that the Estate has been fully distributed to the Court once the process is concluded and all the steps have been completed.

Estates Under $20,000

As long as real property is not involved, New York State Law allows for the transfer of small estates by a Voluntary Administrator to either beneficiaries named in the decedent’s Will or if there is no Will, to the decedent’s intestate distributes as long as:

  1. they are entitled to the estate;
  2. notification is given to all distributes; and…
  3. these conditions are met:
    1. The estate is under $20,000 exclusive of joint bank accounts, trust accounts, U.S. Savings Bonds POD, and jointly owned personal property.
    2. No probate proceedings are pending.
    3. All decedent’s valid debts have been satisfied.
    4. All estate debts paid.

If all these conditions are met, the Voluntary Administrator must submit a completed, signed and notarized affidavit affirming that these steps have or will be taken. The Court then issues a certificate which allows the transfer of assets to the Voluntary Administrator so that expenses and debts can be paid and then distribution of the remaining assets made to the beneficiaries or distributees.

Joint Tenancy

Property held in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship usually can be transferred after a few requisites are met. These may include furnishing a copy of the death certificate and if the decedent died after February 1, 2000, and the estate is OVER $675,000, proof that no federal or state taxes are due.

Taxes

Even though a death has occurred, taxes are still due by the April 15 deadline. An extension can be requested from the IRS and NY State if all the information needed is not readily available.
Further information can be obtained from the IRS taxpayer information services listed under US Internal Revenue Service in your telephone directory and the NY State Department of Taxation and Finance.

Property Taxes

Property taxes are also due at the same time and in the same manner as if the deceased person were still alive. Contact the local treasurer’s office in the City, Town, or Village where the decedent resided for more information on property taxes.

Federal Taxes

The federal government assesses a tax based on the deceased person’s estate. In most cases, a federal estate tax return has to be filed only if the federal estate tax return has to be filed only if the total value of the deceased person’s estate exceeds $675,000 (for person’s dying after February 1, 2000) increasing periodically to $1,000,000 in 2006. If the Estate is required to file a federal and/or New York State tax return, they must be filed and all taxes paid within nine months of the date of death. The tax will be based on the following:

  1. All property in the decedent’s name alone at the time of death
  2. Large gifts made immediately prior to death unless gift tax returns were previously filed and any applicable tax paid.
  3. Life insurance proceeds, unless ownership was transferred more than three years prior to death or the decedent never actually owned the policy.
  4. The value of the decedent’s interest in jointly or co-owned property.
The “Marital Deduction”

The value of most property which passes to a surviving spouse is deducted from the value of the estate. It would be wise to check with the IRS and a financial advisor for more information. Contact your local IRS office for more information and the appropriate forms.

Helpful Telephone Numbers

New York State Tax Information: 1-800-225-5829
NY State Division of Veteran Affairs: 1-888-838-7697
NY State Crime Victims Board: 1-800-247-8035
NY State Department of Labor: 1-518-457-3584
Medicaid: (Contact the local Department of Social & Health Services Office. Look under New York State in your phone book.)
Social Security Information: 1-800-772-1213
Federal Tax Information and Assistance: 1-800-829-1040

Making Jewish Funeral Arrangements

There are many details and choices to consider when making funeral arrangements. It is a very emotional and possibly, overwhelming time. The staff at Star of David is here to help you navigate the process and make it as easy for you as possible. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

When someone passes away, the process of obtaining the necessary documentation to handle the ultimate disposition of their remains begins. First, the appropriate physician must sign the death certificate. This is usually coordinated by the nursing administrator at the facility where death has occurred. If death occurs at home, it is the our responsibility to secure the death certificate through either hospice or the physician that was caring for the decedent. Once signed, it becomes our responsibility to secure it and then transfer the deceased from place of passing to our funeral home.

We then must obtain from the family what are known as the “vital statistics” of the deceased. We record this information on to the death certificate. Once completed, we  file it with the department of health or local registrar to obtain the permits required for the “final disposition” (burial or cremation). It is at this time that we can obtain however many certified copies of the certificate that you have requested.

Furnishing us with the vital statistics beforehand can be very helpful. Listed below is the information that you will be asked to provide:

  • The name of the deceased
  • Place of death (facility name and address)
  • Current legal residence including city, state and zip code
  • Date of birth
  • City and State of birth
  • Citizenship
  • Sex
  • Race
  • Marital Status (if married, their spouse’s maiden name)
  • Level of Education
  • Occupation (you can’t use retired-you can use homemaker if applicable)
  • Did they serve in the military? If so what years and branch of service?
  • Their father’s name & mother’s maiden name.

You will also need to provide us with any of the specific information regarding grave location in the cemetery that you have. Usually identifying a previous burial in an adjacent grave gives us and the cemetery a way to locate the proper grave to be used

We can email to you a form which can be completed and returned to us in advance of its need.

Once the vital statistical information is provided, you’ll need to make some decisions on the specifics of the service:

  • The day and time you wish to have the service
  • The type of service: Either in our chapel, at another chapel, in a synagogue, or directly at the cemetery
  • The type of preparation you wish us to provide: washing and dressing by our licensed staff or reaching out to the Chevra Kadisha to perform Tahara and Shmira
  • Whether you wish us to dress the decedent in their own clothing or tachrichim (shroud)
  • Determining how many certified copies of the death certificate you”ll need us to get for you
  • If you have a rabbi available to conduct the service or will you need us to provide one?
  • Will you be needing us to provide a limousine for you or will you be driving your own car?
  • Which casket to choose?
    Whether you would like us to place a notice in the newspaper and what you want it to say
  • Where and when shiva will be observed?
  • If there is any place you would like contributions made to be sent in the decedent’s memory
  • Any special requests or needs that should be addressed

Once these choices are made, our staff will ensure that all of your requests are carried out precisely as you wish them to be.