When a loved one passes, you can feel overwhelmed. It is hard to deal with everything that is going on, when you add taking care of financial matters to the mix it can get even more complicated. We have compiled this list of 5 steps to take after someone passes. This short list will help you to get organized and complete what needs to be done.
1. Copies of Death Certificates
You can receive copies of death certificates from the funeral home that is taking care of your loved one’s services or the state’s office of vital records. You should get between 10 and 20 copies. It is better to have too many than too few. You will need them for numerous things. Such as:
- Bank Accounts
- Investment Accounts
- Life Insurance
- Real Property Deeds
Most of these will require original certified copies of the death certificate that you will not receive back. The death certificates will go quickly. If you run out it takes time to order more, and that can delay the process. The more you have the better prepared you will be.
2. Find Will or Trust
One of the first things you will need to do is find out whether your loved one had a Will or a Trust. This is an extremely important step. What type of documents you find will determine what the next steps you need to take will be. It will also determine how you will be able to take care of everything. If the Will or Trust does not name you, you will not have the authority to access accounts and distribute property.
3. File for Probate
If your loved one had a Will or did not prepare estate documents, you will need to file a probate to receive a Letter of Personal Representative. This letter will give you access to many accounts. Most financial institutions will not talk to you without one. However, if the decedent’s assets were in Trust, then this step will be unnecessary. You will just need to give the financial institution the relevant Trust documents.
To file for a probate you will need a Will that names you as the Personal Representative. If there was no Will, you will need to be directly related to the deceased to be appointed. It is a long and complicated process, so you will most likely want to find professional help. You can contact an Attorney or Arizona Certified Legal Document Preparer to help you to file for the probate.
4. Collect Other Important Documents
It is important that you collect important finance related documents. This may be a hard task to complete, especially if your loved one was unorganized. Gathering these documents will help you to compile a list of who needs to be contacted. It may also help you to have access to certain accounts. You will want to look for such documents as:
- Insurance Policies (Life, home, health, auto, etc.)
- Credit Card Statements
- Investment Accounts
- Checking and Savings Statements
- Mortgage Statement(s)
- Tax Returns
- Other Tax Documents
5. Notify Government Agencies and Financial Institutions
You will want to notify the following agencies and institutions:
- Social Security Administration
- Deceased’s Employer
- Insurance Companies
- Credit Bureau’s
- Credit Card Companies
- Post Office
- Utility Companies
By notifying these companies it will keep bills from piling up and keep creditors from coming after you. It will let creditors know the situation so that they can take the proper steps. Notifying the Social Security Administration to stop receiving payments and prevent related fraud.
This is just an overview of what needs to be done after someone passes. The process can seem foreboding and overwhelming. We hope that is list will help you get organized and complete the process in a timely manner.
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