Financial Steps After a Death of a Loved One
One of the hardest things to do is deal with the death of a loved one. On top of all the emotional strain you are under, you have to plan for a funeral, final wishes and settle all the financial items.
While you’re dealing with the death of a loved one, it can be difficult to figure out what needs to be done or where to start. We’ve compiled some tips to help you navigate this difficult process a little easier.
1. Obtain a death certificate.
You’ll need to have the death certificate to complete just about all financial tasks. For example, in order to deal with insurance, estate, and close accounts you will have to have either the original or a copy of the death certificate.
2. Begin the probate process.
If there was a will, it will need to be filed with the probate court. Within the will, there should be an executor, the one who’s in charge of handling the assets and distribution. If there is no will, the court will appoint an administrator to handle the distribution.
3. Determine whether you’ll need financial assistance.
The average funeral costs about $9,000, which is an enormous burden on many families. While there are many ways to save money on a funeral, you may want to consider financial assistance. For example, crowdfunding campaigns for funerals are increasingly common. Also, if your loved one was a veteran, there may be additional savings through their veteran’s benefits.
4. Notify the person’s employer.
If the deceased was employed, contact the human resources department to let them know that your loved one has passed away. This is also a good time to ask about pay owed, benefits and life insurance policy.
5. Contact the deceased’s financial institution.
You can stop into a local branch of their institution to inform them of the decedent’s death. Make sure you bring with you the original copy of the death certificate and documents from probate. Also, close any credit card accounts to avoid fraudulent activity on the account.
6. Contact insurance companies.
If your loved one had a life insurance policy, you would need to file a claim to receive the benefit. They will ask for the death certificate and a policy number. Also, cancel any additional insurance policies they may have such as health, home, auto or renters insurance.
7. Contact government agencies.
The funeral director may notify the social security office of your loved ones passing. However, it wouldn’t hurt to verify that it has been completed. You should also be notifying all other agencies that were providing benefits such as Medicare or Veterans Affairs. If you don’t inform them of the passing, they may continue to make payments after death. If they do continue payments, you will be responsible for entering a repayment plan. Often spouses and dependents may qualify for survivors benefits so be sure to ask about this as you call the agencies.
You will want to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to cancel their license and voter registration. Also, if needed, stop by the post office to have their mail forwarded to a new location.
8. Notify the credit bureaus.
Prevent identity theft by notifying all three credit bureaus (Equifax®, Experian™ , and TransUnion® ) of the death, and provide them with copies of the death certificate. Continue to monitor their credit to make sure that no one is opening new accounts or using their credit.
9. File final taxes.
Final tax filings need to be filed on the individual and the estate. By taking care of this earlier rather than later, it may make it easier to understand what estate is truly available to you.
After the death of a loved one, it can be difficult to know where to start and what needs to be done. Hopefully, the tips we’ve listed can help you through the process easier.