When a loved one passes away, it is an emotional and difficult time. The last thing someone wants to think about are the practical steps that need to be taken care of during this time of grieving. Some practical steps family members and/or friends may want to take during this time include:
- Request copies of the death certificate through the funeral home, mortuary or the state’s vital records office.
2. Locate important papers, such as the decedent’s legal documents, financial records and information.
3. Notify any bank or credit unions where the decedent did business, any brokerage firms, and life insurance companies where the decedent maintained life insurance. Find out whether these assets had named beneficiaries or were payable on death.
4. Notify Social Security Administration, Department of Veteran’s Affairs (if the deceased was a veteran), Medicare/Medicaid (if applicable) and similar agencies.
5. Start the probate process, if probate is necessary to administer the estate.
6. The personal representative should collect the decedent’s assets that are part of the probate estate and follow the state’s laws of administration of the estate.
7. Safeguard the decedent’s home and vehicle(s) and protect valuables, including checking on insurance coverage for the estate or heirs for any real estate, vehicle(s) and specifically insured items.
8. Forward the decedent’s mail at the post office.
9. Cancel utilities and other services when appropriate and request final bills.
Written by Heather W. Winter, Esquire