Dealing with the loss of a loved one is stressful as it is, but not knowing how to handle someone’s finances after they have passed away poses an extra burden on the grieving family.
In order to help make this process a little easier, we put together a checklist of the top eight insurance and money matters that should be addressed after someone passes and you can do this with the help of a local life insurance consultation in Oakland, CA. This list isn’t all-inclusive but it can certainly help save you time, money and energy as you deal with the emotions from a loss.
Obtain multiple copies of the death certificate
If you are the spouse or family member of the deceased, your first order of business is to get multiple copies of the death certificate from your local vital statistics office. It’d be safe to obtain 10-20 copies.
Why do this? A number of financial institutions, government agencies, creditors, unions, membership groups and other organizations will refuse to talk to you about a loved one’s financial situation until you produce a certified death certificate due to privacy laws.
Obtain letters testamentary or letters of administration
Your next step in getting everything in order is to obtain letters testamentary, or letters of administration. These are needed in order for you to reach out to any institutions that the deceased was doing business with. It’s proof that the person has indeed passed and that you are able to wrap up the financial obligations.
Consult a lawyer (even if you choose not to hire one)
Following the passing of a loved one, many heirs try to avoid hiring legal help due to the potential costs that come with it; however, hiring a qualified professional can help save an estate and save you thousands of dollars, as well as make this part of the process much easier. Should you choose to hire legal help, be sure to hire one who handles wills, trust and estates exclusively to avoid others who don’t specialize in these areas.
Collect and secure pertinent documents and information
This is one of the more rigorous steps in dealing with the passing of a loved one, but gathering the documents and keeping them in a safe place is imperative. Following the passing of your loved one, the executor of the estate should collect or place an order for the following documents:
- Death certificate(s)
- The will or trust
- Insurance policies (homeowners, life, health, disability, etc.)
- Marriage and birth certificate
- Any final credit card statements
- Last mortgage statement
- Investment accounts (IRA’s, 401(k) plans, pensions, etc.)
- Checking and savings account statements
- Last two years’ tax returns
- Recent credit report of the deceased
All of the above documents will assist you and your family in obtaining assets, take care of outstanding debts and submit claims for benefits and case payments for beneficiaries and heirs.
Notify government institutions, agencies, etc.
Your next crucial step is to notify the following government agencies of the person passing:
- Social Security
- The deceased person’s employer, if applicable
- Insurance companies
- Credit bureaus
- Credit card companies, if applicable
- Post office
- Utility companies
Cancel or transfer subscriptions, memberships and accounts
Following the passing, you don’t want subscriptions, services and other memberships to be bothering you and your family. Cancel those as soon as you are able, along with any credit card, insurance and financial accounts.
Apply for benefits due to survivors
The seventh step is to find out if insurance premiums were paid on accounts such as car loans, mortgages and credit card agreements. This could pay out cash benefits due to heirs of the deceased. The best thing to do for this is wait six months or so and let any insurance plans, etc., collect interest. Then go in and see what you can do as far as applying for benefits.
Pay final bills
The last crucial step is to make sure all the final bills are paid for someone who has passed. Things like property taxes, income taxes, etc. Work with your CPA in getting these things taken care of.
Taking care of the business end of things can be a major undertaking on top of dealing with the grief of someone passing, but looking to your local life insurance consultation in Oakland, CA can help make this process smoother and easier.