Many of our clients express concern about what their loved ones will have to deal with when they pass away. Creating an estate plan and appointing a representative to take care of your estate is the biggest, most important step. However, there are other, more immediate, concerns that families and friends may need to address. Here are a few tips for the family after a loved one passes away.
• If your loved one has not arranged this in advance, plan for the decedent’s burial or cremation and funeral and/or memorial. It is most important to give yourselves time to mourn before worrying about how to handle the decedent’s financial affairs.
• Gather the decedent’s personal and financial documents such as their estate plan, bank statements, life insurance, 401K statements and any investment accounts they may have in their name. If you believe your loved one had a will or trust, try to locate the original documents.
• Contact an attorney who specializes in probate/estate administration to represent the decedent’s estate and help guide the family through the next steps. An attorney will be able to answer any questions that you have and discuss the options available for the administration of the estate.
• If the individual was receiving benefits through any state or federal entitlement program, make sure to contact the program and provide them with a death certificate. This would include Social Security, any Medicare Part B or Gap plan, Veterans Affairs, Medicaid, etc.
• You will also want to contact the individual’s mortgage lender, insurance provider and utility companies.
• If you do not reside in the same home, make sure that the decedent’s home is secure, along with their car, and consider forwarding his or her mail in order to keep track of any invoices or other financial statements that may be sent.
• Cancel memberships or any other subscriptions that may be automatically deducting from the decedent’s bank account.
• It may also be necessary to contact a CPA to assist with the preparation of any income taxes if due.
There are many tasks to accomplish after a loved one passes, but it is essential to continue to care for you. If you are the one shouldering the above responsibilities remember to make sure you have both professional and emotional support to help during the process.