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Financial FAQs « FAQs

We are teachers and advocates, and as a part of that process we frequently answer questions from our clients — so we started collecting our Frequently Asked Questions. We are collecting and sharing them with you by topic and hope these are helpful to you.

Please feel free to email Patti at if you have a follow up question or comment. We'd also like you to let us know what you think of this new feature of our website.


We have redacted names to protect the innocent! Sometimes they are posed in a give and take format because they were developed through an email exchange.

(Note: questions are not edited for spelling, grammar or content.)


  • The following question came from a colleague through one of the lists I subscribe to:

    Question: A potential client came into my office today and informed me her husband recently died. Her husband was fairly secretive about his financial affairs. She is wondering if he had a life insurance policy in effect at the time of death based on several statements to her that she would be taken care of by virtue of the life insurance. Unfortunately, she cannot find any evidence of such a policy i.e., statements, policy, cancelled checks, etc. Is there a way to find out whether a policy exists? Is there some central agency/clearinghouse/data bank that lists the insured and the insurer?

    Answer: Check out these websites: Lost, which provides a fast, easy, inexpensive search service for unpaid life insurance policies issued as long as 25 years ago. Also, MIB Solutions offers a cost-effective way to help locate lost insurance policies of a deceased spouse or family member. And finally, Unclaimed Assets offers a way to search not only for unclaimed life insurance, but bank accounts, IRS refunds, etc.

    Patricia E. Kefalas Dudek

Medical Bills:

  • Question: Am I liable for my deceased spouse's medical bills?

    Answer: No. Under North Ottawa Community Hospital v. Kieft, 457 Mich 394, the Michigan Supreme Court abolished the common law Doctrine of Necessaries, which held spouses liable for each other's medical expenses. Under current law, if there is not an express agreement to the contrary, an individual is not liable for necessaries (including medical expenses) supplied to his or her spouse.

    Patricia E. Kefalas Dudek

Unclaimed Money or Property:


  • Question: Is there a website, such as there is for U. S. Savings Bonds, that one can research the current, and date of death, values of Israel bonds for estate tax return purposes?

    Answer: Here is the link to the home page for Israel Bonds.

U.S. Savings Bonds :

  • Question: How do I get paid out on U.S. Savings Bonds when the owner passes away without doing probate?  This would likely be the only probate asset and is valued at $3,400 according to the client.  Apparently the bank told them they have to go through probate.


    If no survivor is named on the bonds, and no court is involved

    The instructions in this section are for the situation in which no person named on the bond is living and all of the following are true. The estate of the person who died (or who died last if two people are named on the bond)

  • has not been and will not be formally administered through a court

  • has not been and will not be settled under special provisions of state law relating to small estates

  • contains bonds totaling $100,000 or less in redemption value as of the date of death

For paper bonds, when no survivor is named and no court is involved, the person or people who are entitled to request disposition of paper bonds must follow these steps:

1.   Fill out Form PD F 5336, either on paper or online. (The online version is a PDF, requiring Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you don't have that, you can download free Acrobat Reader. After you fill out the online form, you must print it.)

2.   Sign the form in the presence of a certifying official (as explained on the form).

3.   Pack up the bonds, a completed PD F 5336, and proof of death of all people named on the bonds who have died

4.   Mail the package to:

Bureau of the Public Debt
PO Box 7012
Parkersburg, WV 26106-7012