CFA Survivors Guide

This guide is to help CFA members prepare for the future needs of your loved ones.

It covers the preparations CFA members are advised to make and includes an explanations of member benefits that may be available to your survivors.

Call CFA for a printed copy of the Survivor’s Guide: 916-441-4848

Something you should know—a guide for CFA members and their loved ones

Unless you are diagnosed with a fatal illness or know someone who has recently died or is dying, most people don’t think about what will happen after they have passed on. We think, “how tragic” or “how sad,” but not “what will my loved ones do next? Will they know how to access the necessary documents? What if my death is sudden? In their grief will they be able to search through all of my records for the necessary documentation?” CFA has prepared this guide to members on preparing for their survivors. This information does not include legal or tax advice.

Just a few things you should know:

  • All deaths are reported to the Coroner’s Office. Banks and credit unions often seal joint safety deposit boxes, checking and credit card accounts as soon as the Coroner’s Office is made aware of a death.
  • Many insurance companies, banks, credit unions, credit card companies, etc. require an original death certificate. Survivors will be asked for a number of original death certificates. Fifteen is usually an adequate number. However, survivors should ask any agency needing a death certificate if it will accept a copy.
  • Most insurance companies will withhold payment if the death is ruled accidental until an investigation has been completed. This could mean funds are delayed for months.
  • In the state of California, a will is sometimes not enough. To avoid probate an estate must be placed in a will and living trust. For instance, if both parents die in a car crash, the home, contents of the home, cars, bank accounts, all assets go into probate. Probate may take up to two years to finalize the estate and will involve legal fees. (See a qualified professional adviser.)
  • Arranging funerals in advance is helpful. There are insurance companies that set up prearranged, prepaid funerals. Determine if the policy is accepted anywhere in the United States.
  • Survivors should notify insurance companies and pension funds as soon as possible. Some insurance companies have a 20-day requirement for accidental death notification.
  • Consider arranging for automatic payment of insurance premiums in the event the person who pays them becomes ill or unable to remember to send in the payments.

Being Prepared

Much of the following material is taken from the publication “Survivors Guide,” issued by the CSU Emeritus and Retired Faculty Association. It is part of a larger comprehensive publication on the subject issued by the CSU ERFA to its members. *

It is important to be prepared for death. Having a file with important documents is your first step. Some documents you may want to include are:

  • Birth certificate — Copies available from the State or County Public Health offices where the person was born.
  • Marriage certificate — copies are available at the Office of the County Clerk where the marriage license was issued.
  • Children’s birth certificates.
  • Divorce papers, if any.
  • Property deeds and titles, mortgages and notes.
  • Final will and testament along with a living trust, (should explicitly revoke all prior wills). The family lawyer usually has a copy.
  • Deed of cemetery property.
  • Prearranged funeral contracts.
  • Certificate of Honorable (or other than Dishonorable) Service Discharge — copy can be obtained by writing to Department of Defense’s National Personnel Record Center, 9700 Page Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63132.
  • Income tax records for the last seven years.
  • Annuity documents.
  • Power of attorney.
  • CalPERS or STRS retirement account numbers.
  • Social security numbers (self, spouse, children).
  • Location of keys for safe deposit box, cars, house, etc.
  • List of items that are specifically bequeathed to recipients.

*Printed with the permission of CSU ERFSA. The publication is available to members of the association, but a few copies are available by request to CFA members for a charge of $4. If you would like a copy of the entire publication, write to the CSU ERFSA office at 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8339.
Phone (818) 718-7996, Fax 818-718-7680.

Master Document Locator – Download .pdf here