Financial Decisions After the Loss of a Loved One

The passing of a loved one is a very difficult time. On top of the emotional challenges, there are decisions to be made and financial related tasks to be done.  Often, having a checklist can make overwhelming tasks easier to manage. 

Consider the following as you prepare your own list that fits your personal circumstances. 

  • Order death certificates through the funeral home.  Determine if extra ones are needed for life insurance policies, financial institutions, and income sources.
  • A surviving spouse may be eligible for increased monthly benefits and a one-time death benefit of $255.  Contact the Social Security Administration if applicable.
  • If your loved one was receiving veteran benefits or other governmental benefits, notify the appropriate agencies.  You may be entitled to survivor’s benefits.
  • Notify income sources and determine eligibility for any death or survivor benefits.
  • Contact your bank, credit union, broker and other financial institutions concerning any individual and joint accounts.  Determine the ownership of CD’s, bonds, IRA’s, and savings accounts.  Request date of death values for investments.
  • If there are life insurance policies, contact the companies to request claim paperwork, or to update beneficiaries on your polices.
  • Update your Durable Power of Attorney and your Health Care Power of Attorney documents if the deceased loved one was designated as your agent.
  • Notify the health, renter’s, automobile, and long-term care insurance carriers to cancel coverage for your loved one.
  • Notify creditors, including financial institutions and department stores. You may want to cancel any credit cards in the deceased’s name and destroy the cards.
  • Contact agencies or companies regarding changing the name on any titles including motor vehicles, real estate, or a recreational vehicle.
  • Contact your tax preparer to get help in preparing for the next tax filing season.

Depending on your loved one’s estate plan, you may need to contact an attorney before moving forward to ensure compliance with a will or trust.  Your attorney can   also help you determine whether an inheritance tax return and/or a probate will be required and can often provide assistance in completing all necessary tasks to settle an estate.