Dealing with the death of a friend or loved one is never easy, but when you add in the complications of dealing with their property and accounts, it becomes even more difficult. Below are some of the steps you’ll need to take should you find yourself in the position of being the closest relative or executor for someone who passes away.
- Notify others: You must let people know that the individual has passed away. This includes employers, friends, family members, clients, business partners, agents, accountants and other relevant parties. While it may seem easier to do this via social media, that might not be the best idea as it gives valuable information to potential identity thieves.
- Talk to a lawyer: A lawyer is going to be your most important guide through the process of dealing with the legal and financial ramifications of the death, so getting one immediately is important.
- Look for instructions: Many people leave behind information about how they want their funeral and burial to be conducted, whether they want to donate organs, who they want their property to go to and so on. Take some time initially to look for this information so you can make sure that the individual’s final wishes are carried out.
- Look for life insurance: The sooner you (or other beneficiaries) submit a life insurance claim, the sooner you’ll receive the payout which can be used to help pay estate expenses as well as funeral and burial costs.
- Pay certain bills: Debt and other financial obligations don’t necessarily disappear after someone dies, and businesses don’t always put bills on hold until probate is completed. Pay the bills due now for necessities such as utilities and rent or mortgage. Talk to the attorney about what other financial obligations should be paid right away and which should wait for the estate to settle.
- Close accounts: You will need to close or cancel the individual’s driver’s license, credit cards, memberships, and insurance policies (note that you will still need property insurance until assets are distributed). You’ll also need to notify relevant government agencies, such as Social Security. Your attorney will help you get any documentation you need to do this. Be sure to have multiple copies of the death certificate available, as you’ll need to send them in order to get accounts closed out. Be cautious when calling creditors because some creditors will try to get you to change the accounts into your name when you notify them of the death of the account owner. Be sure you do not assume any financial responsibility for any of the decedent’s bills, even if they are for a spouse, without consulting with an attorney first.
- Think about thieves: You need to not only secure the individual’s personal belongings and property but also their online presence- like social media and online accounts. It is important not to post a lot of personal information online about the deceased person because would-be thieves can use that information to steal identity. You can also consider requesting account restrictions from the credit reporting agencies.
At Kramer Wealth Managers, we can help you make sure that your financial affairs are in order, making it easier on your survivors. Contact us today to get started.