Is there a legal requirement to print an obituary in the newspaper?

Check with an estate planning attorney or the county office that administers probate proceedings (often called a Surrogate) in the area where the deceased person lived. Most regulations regarding estate planning issues are state-specific. Many states do not have a legal requirement to have an obituary printed in a local newspaper.

If someone decides that he or she doesn’t want a printed obituary, or if the deceased person’s survivors decide not to have one, there is no state law that …

When considering the required minimum distribution (RMD) for married couples filing jointly, can their distributions be combined for a combined RMD?

Each spouse is responsible for making a required minimum distribution (RMD) withdrawal based on his or her own individual tax-deferred retirement savings account (e.g., IRA and 401(k) plan) balances. Just as these accounts have been funded separately over a couple’s working years, the individual balances of a husband and wife must be handled separately for the purposes of an RMD withdrawal calculation.

For more information about RMD withdrawals, see this eXtension article: How to Make Required Minimum Withdrawals from Retirement

How long should an executor of a will keep a deceased person’s financial records?

It would be prudent to keep these records for at least three years, which is the general statute of limitations for the IRS to conduct an audit. Some financial experts recommend five to six years in the event that the IRS questions the content of the deceased’s estate tax return. Check with the deceased’s attorney for additional recommendations and state-specific guidelines.

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Does a durable power of attorney need to be notarized or witnessed?

Power of attorney laws vary by state. There is usually a section of each state’s statutes that directly addresses powers of attorney, and there is often a section specifically for durable powers of attorney. Many states require that a durable power of attorney be in writing and contain some specific language about the intent for the power of attorney to continue past the time the person creating the power is capable of managing their financial affairs.

Many states require that …

My late husband bought EE Bonds for each of four children; however, some of the four have more bonds than the others. How or where can I even this up without having to buy new bonds? Some of them are fairly close to maturity.

This depends on the names in which the EE U.S. savings bonds were issued. At the time of purchase, a bond can be registered to a single person (“single ownership”) or to two people (“co-ownership”), or it can be registered to a primary owner and a beneficiary (“beneficiary”). In the case of co-ownership, either named individual can do whatever he or she likes with the bond without consent of the other person; if one dies, the other becomes the single …