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Assets, loans and insurance claims: Issues to sort out if you lose a loved one to COVID-19

You should retain the access to the deceased person's phone and email with due permission and after informing the respective service provider

May 06, 2021 / 11:31 AM IST

We are not in the same boat, though we are in the same storm. Every day, we hear news of people losing their loved ones. Apart from coping with the irreparable loss of losing a loved one, some may also need to complete a lot of financial tasks within a stipulated time frame. A proper nomination can ease out the process of transfers/claims-related work, but not otherwise. So, here is a step-by-step guide to complete these financial tasks.

First thing first, collate all the documents and organise them as follows:

-Assets (mutual funds, stocks, PF, PPF, FDs, real estate, gold etc.)

-Liabilities (home/personal/car loans etc.)

-Insurance Claims

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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-Income (business, profession or employment)

-Expenses (subscriptions, utility payments, income tax etc.)

Assets

Stocks: The nominee has to submit a transmission request form along with a copy of the death certificate, duly attested by a notary. If there is no nomination, then SEBI’s listing obligations and disclosure norms require the legal heir to submit a duly stamped affidavit, succession certificate or a letter of administration.

Mutual funds: Nominee has to contact the AMCs and submit a transmission form, a copy of the death certificate, and KYC related documents: PAN, Aadhaar copies and a cancelled cheque. In cases where there is no nominee, the claimant has to submit the probated Will or a succession certificate.

Important tip: In cases, where the nominee does not have all the information about the investments made by the deceased, they can search for the “consolidated account statement” in the mailbox; this is issued by the NSDL (CAS) or CDSL (ECAS). These statements cover the information related to all the demat accounts; i.e., stocks and dividends and mutual funds held by the deceased.

Gold: Gold held electronically can be transferred in the same way as stocks, whereas physical gold can be easily transferred to the legal heir as per the Will or on the basis of a succession certificate or a letter of administration.

Provident Fund: Either a nominee or the legal heir needs to submit form 20, along with the required documents to the (EPF) Commissioner’s office through the employer. The list of documents include a cancelled cheque, death certificate, Form 5, Form 10D or Form 10C as applicable and claim status can be checked on the EPF website.

PPF and Post office schemes: A nominee has to submit Form G, along with a copy of death certificate and passbook with the respective authorities.

Bank account and deposits:  A copy of a death certificate would be sufficient in case of joint account holders or a request from the nominee along with the KYC documents needs to be made.

Real Estate: If there is no will, then a letter of administration or succession certificate would be needed to transfer the property to legal heirs. Claimants may also need to submit an affidavit and an NOC from the other legal heirs. You need to change the name with the municipal corporation and electricity board as well for paying property taxes and electricity bills.

Vehicles: Apart from transferring the ownership, you also need to transfer the insurance policy.

Liabilities

There may be outstanding home, car or personal loans. For a secured loan, the respective institution will ask the co-borrower or the legal heirs to pay off the liability in proportion of their share; otherwise it will take the possession and auction the assets. Do check for a specific home loan related life insurance policy, which usually all the institutions offer along with the loan that can help you repay the loan.

Insurance Claims  

Life Insurance:  A nominee or legal heir will get the sum assured of the insurance policy by submitting a copy of death certificate and other documents like identity and address proofs. The claims can be lodged online but in some cases, the nominee has to visit the insurer's office physically and the entire process may take a  couple of months. In cases where death occurred in the hospital, a doctor's report is needed and an FIR and post mortem report would also be needed for accidental death claims. Other than the regular insurance claims, a nominee can also claim a death claim benefit under EDIL (Employee Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme) for a minimum of Rs 2.5 lakh to a maximum of Rs 7 lakh for a person who was in active employment by submitting a form 5IF to the EPF commissioner.

Health Insurance: If the policyholder dies in the hospital and the payment is cashless, then the insurance company will take care of the treatment. Where there is no cashless facility available, the money would be transferred to the nominee or legal heir.  You need to lodge this claim within a period of 30 days and make sure you keep all the original bills, prescriptions, discharge summary, OPD bills for pre-hospitalisation claims etc. Do keep a back-up of all the original documents as the originals would be required to be submitted. Also, due to COVID the number of claims are significantly higher than usual. Hence, people are facing difficulties in lodging online claims. Also, a family floater plan will get transferred to the surviving members.

Income

You can contact the deceased's employer for the transfer of EPF, gratuity etc. as mentioned above but for professionals or a businessman it works differently. Usually they raise invoices and do not receive their income immediately as there is always a gap of a few weeks or months, so in such cases, you need to touch base with those parties or contact the chartered accountant or financial advisor of a deceased.

Expenses

Avoid penalties for utility payments such as municipality, electricity, phone and Internet. Then, there are other expenses such as gym membership, online subscriptions (Netflix or other OTTs), which are generally set via credit card in an automated mode, and the same need to be cancelled.

Important Point: You should retain the phone and email access with due permission and after informing the respective service providers. This is important because every investment or liability related information/document/report or the OTP is generally sent via email and messages.
Rishabh Parakh is a Chartered Accountant and a founder of Money Plant Consultancy
first published: May 6, 2021 11:21 am

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