When you lose a loved one - Equitable

When you lose a loved one - Equitable (PDF)

2022 • 26 Pages • 3.03 MB • English
Posted July 01, 2022 • Submitted by Superman

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Summary of When you lose a loved one - Equitable

When you lose a loved one Strategies for the future Helping you through a difficult time Whether you are the spouse, partner, child, parent, sibling or friend of the deceased, there are necessary tasks and decisions that must be made when a loved one dies. However, these decisions do not have to intrude completely on your need for solitude or quiet reflection, and can be made less stressful. Having assisted many people in similar situations, we know you will have questions. You are dealing with issues and emotions you may never have faced before. Over the next few months, you will need to make important choices you may feel unprepared to make. We are here to help you through this difficult time so you can make decisions that are beneficial to you. To that end, we have included sections on: • How to take care of you • How to prioritize the things you need to do • Documents you’ll need and suggestions on how to find them • Sample letters/emails for you to copy and send as needed • Making sense of tax issues • Additional resources 1 How to take care of you Grief is something that must be dealt with and worked through — a process that takes time. Some experts say grieving takes over a year, while others admit that most people take 2 to 4 years to get beyond the loss of someone close. With the death of a spouse, a partner, a child or a parent, the grief can last even longer. Yet, while each relationship creates its own form of bereavement, one thing does remain constant: grief will not just go away on its own — or by avoiding it. There is some evidence, in fact, that the stress induced by denial of the mourning process can cause illness, at times even serious illness. What you’re feeling Those who grieve need to give themselves permission to mourn. The death of a loved one has a profound effect on the mental state of those left behind. For some, the loss is devastating and its effects are long lasting. For others, it is more manageable. In either case, the death irrevocably alters the daily structure, caretaking, companionship and social life of the one left behind. Grief is a multistage process wherein stages may overlap, leaving you with emotions swinging dramatically from one extreme to another. At first you may experience disbelief, numbness and shock. You may find your eating or sleeping patterns change, and your mind becomes cluttered, leaving no time or room for anything else. Then, as you begin to feel the separation, you may become extremely depressed and lonely. Sometimes you may find yourself avoiding anything reminding you of the deceased, and other times you may surround yourself with mementos. You may have trouble concentrating, appearing disorganized and forgetful. Normal, everyday dealings may become annoying. And there will be days when you can’t help but act irritable, anxious or restless. When you lose a loved one What you need You need support. One way to help resolve your grief is to reach out to those around you for support and understanding. One of the best ways is to share your feelings with others. Family and friends are usually the first people we turn to in time of need. And yet, if family and friends are going through their own grieving process, they may not be able to lend as much support to you as you need. Or, you may feel separated from your friends; that you no longer “fit in” with the same social circle. If you’ve lost a spouse, you may find it awkward to be around couples. If you’ve lost a child, you may feel uneasy about being around friends who have children. Perhaps the best way you can gain support is to reach out to an organization specializing in helping people cope with their losses. There are many community service organizations, or possibly a house of worship, that could serve as a resource for bereavement groups. Sometimes sharing your grief with others who face similar issues and who have similar needs can be most helpful. You need to be well. Whether you feel up to it or not, you must take care of yourself. That means keeping both mind and body healthy. This is extremely important, since one of life’s greatest stresses — the death of someone close — can take a toll on your health. Be sure you get regular exercise, proper nutrition and rest, and consult your physician about any physical ailments, including sleep disturbances, loss of energy or appetite. We hope what you find on the next few pages is helpful to you during this time. Please see page 21 for a list of additional resources that may be beneficial to you as you cope. 2 ○ Find the will (if there is one). Funeral instructions may be contained in the will, and, therefore, it should be the first document you locate. Usually the will is kept in a safe deposit box or in a home safe. However, a copy may be obtained at the office of the attorney who drew up the will or on file at the surrogate court. ○ Make funeral or memorial service arrangements. Funeral directors often help notify newspapers and associations for the purposes of publishing a death notice. ○ Order 15 or more certified death certificates. You may obtain death certificates from either the funeral director or the county clerk’s office. This can usually be done for a nominal fee. You will need certified copies of death certificates to claim Social Security and insurance benefits, change ownership of joint property, to enter safe deposit boxes and to file tax returns. Larger estates may require as many as 50 certificates. Photocopies are often not acceptable. ○ Check with Social Security and the Veterans Administration (VA). You may qualify for burial allowances. The VA also provides a marker for the grave, an American flag for the casket and, in some cases, transportation to a veterans cemetery. Contact the VA again within the next 2 weeks to discuss death benefits. (You may want to contact Social Security and the Veterans Administration right away because a delay in applying can result in the loss of some benefits.) ○ Clip obituary notices. Some insurance companies require a dated newspaper announcement in order to process claims. ○ Call your financial professional. You don’t need to pay an advisor to file for insurance or annuity proceeds. Your financial professional will help expedite your claims processing, discuss payment options and help you and your other professional advisors review your new financial situation. ○ Check the status of your medical insurance coverage. Spouse and children may be entitled to continue their medical coverage under the deceased’s employee benefit plan as long as they continue to pay the premiums. If the present coverage cannot be continued or can only be converted to an individual policy at a higher rate, your financial professional may be able to help you find the most cost-effective coverage. ○ Contact each financial institution where the deceased banked. A bank may seal the deceased’s safe deposit box and may freeze any checking or savings accounts after the death announcement is published. You may then be required to obtain a release before funds can be withdrawn from those accounts. A bank officer can explain the procedure for obtaining a release. ○ Apply for death benefits. Contact companies and organizations to notify them the insured is deceased. These include: the Social Security Administration, the Veterans Administration, the deceased’s employer or former employer, union, civil service, professional and trade associations, fraternity/sorority, alumni and automobile club. Employment and membership organization benefits do not come automatically. You must apply for them. ○ Consult an attorney. It is wise to seek legal counsel on such matters as setting up trusts, recording property deeds, disposing of stocks, bonds, bank accounts or business property, as well as conserving and disbursing the deceased’s estate. During the initial consultation, discuss fees and the need for engaging an attorney’s service. ○ Have someone watch your home during services. Burglars have been known to read obituaries to find out when no one will be home. The first few days 3 Within 2 weeks ○ Locate important papers and documents. Certain documentation is needed (see document checklist on page 8) to claim death benefits. Most often these papers are kept in a safe deposit box or in a home safe. Also, you will need to check with the deceased’s accountant, who may know of certain business arrangements you are not aware of and who will help access tax records. Do not throw out any documents, such as life insurance policies and certificates, even if the policyholder stopped paying premiums. The policy may still be inforce. In addition, canceled checks and receipts may be needed to prove payment or ownership. ○ Advise all creditors. Be sure to notify all agencies holding installment loans, credit cards, mortgages, student loans and service contracts about the death. Ask if any outstanding loans are insured, or if any life insurance benefits are available. Some of these loans may become fully paid in the event of a customer’s death. (See the section on sample letters/emails, pages 10–11.) ○ Discuss outstanding debts with an attorney or surrogate court. Do not use insurance proceeds to pay debts of the deceased unless advised to do so by an attorney. You may not be obligated to use the insurance proceeds to pay such debts. Also, beware of swindlers who send phony bills and overcharge for services. When in doubt, check with the Better Business Bureau and refer suspicious bills to your attorney. ○ Contact the trust officer. If a trust was established by the deceased, discuss the terms of the trust with the trust officer. ○ If children are attending college, contact their school’s financial aid office. When a parent dies, college students are often eligible for increased financial aid, loans or grants. ○ Set aside your inheritance and death benefits. If you are the beneficiary of a policy insuring the deceased, you may want to choose a relatively safe, short-term financial instrument until you determine how to invest your money for the long term. ○ Review your life and disability insurance coverage. Your needs may have changed and, therefore, your life and disability insurance needs may be different. You may want to discuss your situation with your financial professional. ○ Start or continue to establish your credit rating. This can be done by applying for credit cards, bank or car loans in your own name. The first month 4 The first 6 months ○ Prepare a budget Record all income and expenses for several months to help determine where you stand financially. Another way to determine your household budget is to review your checking account and tax forms. Estate settlement papers are also a good source of income information. If you find you cannot balance your budget, you may have to consider reallocating invested funds and taking or changing jobs to produce more income. Do not forget to factor in federal, state and local tax liabilities. It may be in your best interest to seek professional assistance from a financial professional and your other professional advisors. Monthly income $ Monthly expenses $ Trust funds $ Rent/mortgage $ Insurance proceeds $ Utilities $ Rental income $ Installment loans $ Securities $ Insurance premiums $ Social Security $ Medical/dental $ VA benefits $ Telephone $ Deceased employee benefits $ Credit cards $ Pensions/annuities $ Car/transportation $ Earnings from investments/savings $ Food $ Salary/bonuses/tips $ Clothing $ Other $ Household $ $ Child care $ $ Entertainment $ $ Vacation $ $ Gifts/contributions $ $ Taxes $ $ Savings $ Total income $ Total expenses $ Less total expenses $ $ Balance $ $ 5 The first year ○ Review your own will. If you do not have a will, have your attorney draw one up for you. This is a proper time to make contingency plans in the event something happens to you. Remember to appoint an executor, and if you have minor children, a legal guardian. Be sure to ask the people you have in mind for these roles for their permission before you appoint them. ○ Change names on joint property. Be sure to include joint billing accounts, credit cards, house, property, automobiles and subscriptions. Once your property is released from joint tenancy, you should change any fire, auto or other insurance coverage you may have held jointly. Change beneficiary designations on life insurance policies and retirement plans naming the deceased. Contact your local motor vehicle department to clear the title to your automobile, since it is handled differently in each state. ○ Find out if state and federal taxes on the estate are payable and when they are due. Most states impose either an inheritance tax or a state estate tax. (Ask an attorney or check your state law for filing deadlines.) The federal government also taxes estates valued above a certain amount and requires a return to be filed within 9 months. Since tax laws are complicated, and can have a tremendous effect on you, consult an attorney who is familiar with the laws in your state. ○ Postpone the decision on where to live for at least 6 months. If you feel the need to act sooner, consider taking temporary measures, such as renting out your house instead of selling it, visiting family for a week or two before moving or taking a long vacation before relocating. This will give you a chance to feel out a new neighborhood, living arrangements and conveniences. ○ Plan for your future. Begin to make decisions you have postponed, including changing your residence and investing your inheritance. It is also a good time to set financial goals, such as providing for your children’s education and building a retirement nest egg. Document checklist Documents Purpose of document Likely location Original life insurance policies or annuity contracts (or policy numbers or contract numbers) on the deceased May be needed to file claims and inquire about methods of payments Safe deposit box, home or office desk, safe, file cabinet Certified death certificates May be needed to process claims Required to apply for Social Security benefits, including Railroad Retirement Act benefits, burial allowance, lump-sum benefit Required to apply for VA benefits, including burial allowance (photocopy OK) Bring to your attorney (photocopy OK) Required to change ownership on joint property, such as house, property, stocks, bonds, automobile, bank accounts Required to enter safe deposit box Required to file tax return Request certified copies from funeral director or county clerk’s office Dated obituary notice and newspaper articles May be required for processing claims Clip from local newspaper Certificates of appointments (if you are filing as executor, administrator or in any other fiduciary responsibility) May be required for processing of claims and disposing of assets Obtain certified copy of the appointment from the court Will Bring to an attorney or to the surrogate court Safe deposit box, home or office desk, computer files, safe, file cabinet, the attorney who drew up the will or on file at the surrogate court Marriage certificate(s) Required to apply for Social Security benefits Required to apply for VA benefits (photocopy OK) Bring to your attorney (photocopy OK) Safe deposit box, home or office desk, computer files, safe, file cabinet Domestic partner or civil union certificates Required to claim any state or employer- sponsored benefits Safe deposit box, home or office desk, computer files, safe, file cabinet, on file with the municipality that issued the certificate Names and addresses of heirs, next of kin, beneficiaries Bring to your attorney Bring to the surrogate court if you are not using an attorney Safe deposit box, home or office desk, computer files, safe or best of your knowledge Summary of deceased’s assets Bring to your attorney Safe deposit box, home or office desk, computer files; these papers might include the W-2 form, recent tax returns, property and casualty insurance form records Business records, such as partnership agreements, buy-sell agreements, tax records, balance sheet Bring to your attorney Your accountant, safe deposit box, home or office desk, computer files, safe, file cabinet 6 Document checklist Documents Purpose of document Likely location Employee benefits statement for deceased Help determine the benefits you are entitled to as the survivor Safe deposit box, home or office desk, computer files, safe, file cabinet or contact employer Your retirement plans and employee benefits Change beneficiary designation Safe deposit box, home or office desk, computer files, safe, file cabinet Social Security numbers or cards Required to apply for Social Security benefits Wallet, W-2 form, paycheck stub, file cabinet, computer file or contact employer Deceased’s approximate earnings during the year of death Required to apply for Social Security benefits Paycheck stub, or contact the employer Government life insurance policy number (or the “C” claim number, military service serial number, the branch and date of military service, or a copy of the discharge papers) Required to apply for VA benefits Safe deposit box, home or office desk, computer files, safe, file cabinet; the VA can help you secure some of these documents Membership cards or dues notices to organizations and associations to which the deceased belonged Ask what benefits you are entitled to as the survivor Home or office desk, briefcase, wallet Bank statements and passbooks, keys to safe deposit box Ask the bank if the deceased had mortgage insurance, safe deposit box, trust agreements, bank accounts Safe deposit box, home or office desk, computer files, safe, file cabinet, online accounts Fire, homeowners, automobile and other casualty insurance coverage Change name on policies Safe deposit box, home or office desk, computer files, safe, file cabinet Medical and disability insurance policies and certificates Needed to review amount and type of coverage you need now Safe deposit box, home or office desk, computer files, safe, file cabinet Current bills Discuss with an attorney or surrogate court Prepare household budget Monitor mail for 2 months Installment payment books, credit cards, checking account book, credit agreements, loan papers Find out if there is credit life insurance or disability insurance on installment loans, credit cards and checking account lines of credit Change name on existing accounts File cabinet, online accounts, home or office desk, computer files; also monitor mail for 2 months Joint billing statements (utilities, etc.) Change name on these accounts Home or office desk, computer files, file cabinet Real estate deeds Required to change name on these deeds Safe deposit box, home or office desk, safe, file cabinet Brokerage and mutual fund statements, stocks, bonds and securities certificates Change name on deceased’s account and joint account Safe deposit box, home or office desk, safe, file cabinet Automobile registration Required to change name Home or office desk, file cabinet Life insurance policies or annuity contract on you and other family members Change beneficiary if the deceased is named For life insurance, ask if children’s coverage is automatically paid up Safe deposit box, home or office desk, safe, file cabinet 7 Sample letters (for print or email) You can personalize these letters/emails to notify organizations about the death and initiate the claims process. Be sure to include your full name, address and phone number, and keep a copy of every letter or email. Also include full name of the deceased, date of birth and month, day and year of death. Life insurance companies Dear (Name): This is to inform you (deceased’s name) died on (month, date, year). Please send me the necessary documents to process a claim under policy number(s) (list policy numbers), and let me know to whom they are payable. Please describe all payment methods available. Please search your files for any other coverage (deceased’s name) may have had, including other policies or riders on other family members that may be paid up due to this death. Thank you. Sincerely, Social Security Administration Dear (Name): (Deceased’s full name, Social Security number), passed away on (month, day, year). I would like to schedule an appointment with your representative on (preferred date and time, and two alternative dates and times). I have obtained copies of the death certificate, marriage certificate, birth certificates and those of dependent children, Social Security numbers and evidence showing (deceased’s name)’s recent earnings. If you require additional forms of verification or information, please let me know when you confirm our appointment. Thank you. Sincerely, 8 Sample letters (for print or email) Employer and former employees (Assuming writer is sole beneficiary) Dear (Name): This is to inform you officially (deceased’s full name) died on (month, date, year). Please tell me if there are employee benefits, such as group life insurance, pension funds, deferred compensation, accrued vacation or sick pay, unpaid commissions, disability pay, service recognition awards, credit union balances, continuing medical insurance, etc., and to whom they are payable. Please send me a list of documents you will require and the necessary forms that must be completed as beneficiary. Thank you. Sincerely, Member organizations (Assuming writer is sole beneficiary) Dear (Name): This is to inform you (deceased’s full name) died on (month, date, year). I understand (deceased’s name) may have been covered by a life insurance plan through your organization. Please send me a list of documents you will require and the necessary forms that must be completed. In addition, please inform me of any other documentation that may be due, including the refund of the unused portion of annual dues. Thank you. Sincerely, 9 Veterans Administration Dear (Name): (Deceased’s full name) died on (month, date, year). I would like to schedule an appointment with your representative on (preferred date and time, and two alternative dates and times). (Deceased’s name)’s government life insurance policy number is (policy number) and military service serial number is (number). (Deceased’s name) served in the U.S. (branch) from (date) to (date). If you require any documents or additional information, please let me know when you confirm our appointment. Thank you. Sincerely, Creditors Dear (Name): This is to inform you (deceased’s full name) died on (month, date, year). I understand (deceased’s name)’s loan may have been covered by a credit life insurance plan offered through your company. Please let me know if there are benefits available, and to whom they are payable. Thank you. Sincerely, Planning for your future We offer this simple four-step process to help you identify your priorities and sort through your finances to make sure your needs are met. You may want to enlist the support of one or more financial professionals, and a certified public accountant and/or tax attorney. 10 Step 1: Step 3: Define your goals Make an investment plan When you lose a loved one, chances are your priorities will change. Your financial goals will take many forms, some immediate, some long term. For example: • If the deceased was your household’s primary wage earner, generating an income may be your immediate goal. • If you’ve lost an adult child, you may wish to provide for the future of your grandchildren. • If a parent has passed away, you may need to care for your surviving parent during their golden years. Once you know your financial situation, you can figure out strategies to help you meet your goals. You may be well on your way to achieving some of them, if you haven’t already. However, there may be others — perhaps new ones — that are far from being satisfied. Here is where a financial professional can really help. Your advisor can provide invaluable advice on how to: • Select a benefit payment plan — or combination of plans — that is best for you. • Help manage your money to meet immediate needs. • Invest to help achieve long-range objectives. Step 2: Step 4: Assess your finances Monitor results Next, you’ll need to take a look at your finances. If the deceased took care of the bills and investments, you may not even know where to start. • The first thing to do is to simply gather together all brokerage and bank statements, retirement accounts, annuity and insurance policies, and a listing of the contents in your safe deposit box. Give them to your financial advisor. • At the same time, you should prepare a simple budget to evaluate your income and expenses. This will help you understand your immediate financial situation. Creating a plan is not a one-time event — and any plan developed in the wake of a significant loss should be designed for change. • Keep an eye on your investments to help achieve your immediate goals. • Evaluate the services and successes of your financial advisor. • When you feel able, you should solidify your long- term strategy and make necessary changes. Making sense of tax issues — annuity contract beneficiaries The following pages will help you better understand how your death benefits under an annuity contract may be affected by income and transfer taxes (such as estate and inheritance taxes) and are for informational purposes only. You should consult your own legal and tax advisors for specific information on how taxes apply to your benefits and financial circumstances. Estate taxes Federal and state estate and inheritance taxes are imposed on the transfer of property as a result of a loved one’s death. Whether or not these taxes apply to your benefits depends upon the specific retirement plan or annuity contract, the amount of the benefits and your relationship to the deceased. Typically, transfers to spousal beneficiaries are not subject to these taxes. However, all beneficiaries should consult their tax advisors to determine how inheritance taxes may affect their distributions. You should also know some states may require us to notify them or obtain an estate or inheritance “tax waiver” before we are allowed to distribute benefits. A notification requirement alerts the deceased’s state of residence about transfers that might be taxable. A tax waiver is the state’s permission for us to distribute benefits to you as the beneficiary, and is based on the agreement or understanding that any transfer taxes will be paid. Income taxes Unlike life insurance death benefits, which generally are not subject to income taxes, annuity death benefits (and death benefits under tax-favored retirement plans) may be fully or partially taxable as “ordinary” income. The amount subject to tax is usually the difference between the amount you (the beneficiary) receive and any “after- tax” contributions made to the annuity contract. If the annuity contract is held in a tax-favored retirement plan, the taxation of the annuity payments is governed by the tax rules applicable to the type of plan. If you are the beneficiary in a tax-favored retirement plan, the tax rules generally are the same whether the plan is invested in an annuity contract or any other kind of investment. Annuity contract death benefits are generally required to be reported to the IRS on Form 1099-R. Also, if you choose to have your lump-sum death benefit payment go to a retained asset account (if available), you will receive interest income, which is also taxable as ordinary income. A retained asset account is a draft account similar to an interest-bearing checking account. The death benefit proceeds deposited in the account earn interest (the rate may change from time to time). The account holder will receive a draft book, and upon receipt, account holders can immediately write drafts for any or all of the proceeds. We must also report interest income from a retained asset account to the IRS on Form 1099-INT. Deferring income tax Beneficiaries who don’t need to take all their benefits in a single payment may want to consider options that can help manage the impact of taxes. The taxes don’t go away — you simply pay them over a period of time or at a later time. It’s important to consult your tax advisor to determine which option is right for you. In some instances, a fact card may be enclosed in the back pocket of this brochure; we suggest you review the information when provided. This will give you a better understanding of the options available to you, especially those that can result in deferral of your taxes. You’ll note that if you are a spousal beneficiary, you may have more choices as to how to take — or defer — your annuity contract death benefits.is right for you. 11 Disclaiming the death benefit If you do not want all or part of the death benefit, you may be able to “disclaim” your death benefit before you receive it. When you disclaim all or part of your interest in the death benefit, the part of the death benefit that would have gone to you (and the income, estate and inheritance tax consequences) goes to another beneficiary under the contract. Disclaimers must meet a number of technical rules and have to be submitted to us within a limited period of time. If you think you might be interested in disclaiming your interest, please consult your tax advisor or attorney before filling out any claim to annuity benefits. If you have questions about requirements, we encourage you or your attorney to contact us before you make a claim or any court filing that affects the contract’s death benefit. Annuity contracts providing death benefits are “non- probate” assets. That means the insurance company issuing the contract typically does not have to wait for a court to approve the deceased owner’s will or appoint an executor or personal administrator to pay out the death benefits. The owner of the contract tells the insurance company the beneficiary or beneficiaries under the policy or contract, and the beneficiary can be paid directly when all necessary claim documents are submitted. If the beneficiary indicated by the owner of the contract dies before the owner, or disclaims the benefits, the benefits are paid to the default beneficiary under the contract. Spousal status The status of an individual as a spouse is determined under state law. However, in June 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the portion of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that precluded same-sex marriages from being recognized for purposes of federal law was unconstitutional. The IRS adopted a rule recognizing the marriage of same-sex individuals validly entered into in a jurisdiction that authorizes same-sex marriages, even if individuals are domiciled in a jurisdiction that does not recognize the marriage. The IRS also ruled the term “spouse” does not include an individual who has entered into a registered domestic partnership, civil union or other similar relationship that is not denominated as a “marriage” under the law of that jurisdiction. Also, under certain state laws, a divorce may affect the designation of a former spouse as a beneficiary. Please consult your tax or legal advisor regarding your individual circumstances. Income tax withholding Annuity death benefits are generally taxable, and they may also be subject to income tax withholding. Whether your death benefits are subject to income tax withholding, what the rate will be and whether you can “elect out” of it, may depend on the source of the payment, the form of the payment and your tax status. See the chart on page 17 for details. Electing out of withholding The choices, if any, you have regarding tax withholding depend on your status and the documentation you provide. What do we mean when we say status? Status refers to whether you are a U.S. citizen or foreign; an individual or some type of entity. Many Equitable contract beneficiaries are individuals who are a “U.S. persons.” Individuals providing both a U.S. residence address and a Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) are eligible to elect out of withholding. Please note we will accept your mailing address as a P.O. box, but we must maintain your residential address for our records Special withholding rules apply to foreign recipients and U.S. citizens residing outside the United States. You cannot elect out of withholding if we are sending the payment out of the United States. We may require additional documentation and/or forms in the case of payments made to non-U.S. persons and U.S. persons living abroad prior to processing any requested transaction. If you do not have a U.S. residence address, we require you to provide Form W-9 or Form W-8BEN, as appropriate. Please note that an address of a bank or brokerage account in the United States is not a U.S. residence address. Non-individuals (for example, corporations and trusts) may have to provide documentation on Form W-9 or a type of Form W-8, as appropriate, regardless of address. You should note some states require the insurer to withhold state income tax if federal income tax is withheld. Also, please be aware some states require state tax be withheld regardless of federal tax withholding. Whether state income tax withholding is required or permitted depends on the rules of the state in question. Please consult your tax advisor for the rules that apply to you. 12 Other taxes Generation-skipping transfer tax is a special kind of tax that applies when annuity benefits are included in the deceased’s estate for tax purposes and the beneficiary is: • A grandchild, great-grandchild, etc., of the deceased. • An unrelated individual who is at least 37 years younger than the deceased. • A trust benefiting only those individuals described above. Submit an IRS Schedule R-1 (Form 706), titled “Generation- Skipping Transfer Tax — Direct Skips From a Trust — Payment Voucher,” with your “Claim to Annuity Benefits” form to avoid generation-skipping transfer tax withholding. A significant portion of the benefits will be withheld unless you advise us not to withhold this tax. Time to file claim We want you to take the time you need to review your benefit options with your tax and legal advisors and family members who would be affected by any decision you may make. If you have questions, we want you to ask them and understand the process, because it may be difficult to reverse a claim once it’s submitted. However, once you’ve considered the available settlement payout options, we strongly suggest all beneficiaries promptly file claims and provide us with all the required documentation to process your claim on a timely basis, for the reasons outlined below. • If you are the beneficiary under a variable annuity contract and there is no death benefit guarantee, until you decide on the form of payment and we receive your complete request, your death benefit amount will continue to be invested in the investment options the deceased elected. As a result, the benefit amount may increase or decrease depending on the performance of the investment options. • Also, failure to settle a claim in a timely manner may result in the death benefit being considered “abandoned” under state law. We are required to report property we’re holding that has been inactive for a set period of time (usually between 1 and 5 years) as unclaimed or abandoned property and remit such property to the applicable state. Although that would not result in the forfeiture of your death benefit, you might have to seek it through the state agency. • Certain forms of payment must start by a year after death, so if you wait, you may eliminate some available choices. For additional information, please visit Equitable’s Beneficiary Resource Center at equitable.com/beneficiary. 13