Coping with the death of a loved one can be difficult, overwhelming, and stressful. As you grieve your loss within the first several days of their passing, the last responsibilities you may want to have are arranging their cremation, organizing an honorable memorial service, and dealing with their finances.
To help you with the financial aspect, we’ve provided a checklist of the top six financial matters you may have to deal with in the days, weeks, and months following the passing of your loved one.
- Obtain extra copies of the death certificateWhen you deal with banks and financial institutions, creditors, government agencies, and other organizations, you’ll need to present an official death certificate before you can speak to them about your loved one’s financial matters. Try to get between 10 and 20 copies of the death certificate so you can present them to various institutions as necessary. An official death certificate can usually be obtained from your local county clerk’s office.
- Obtain the letters testamentary or letters of administrationIn addition to the death certificate, you’ll need proof that you are the person in charge of handling your loved one’s financial affairs. If you already have an attorney who is helping you settle your loved one’s affairs, they can assist you with obtaining the letters testamentary or letters of administration. Otherwise, you can obtain these documents from the county clerk’s office.
- Collect pertinent documentsThroughout the time period during which you’ll be settling your loved one’s finances, you’ll need the following documents to locate all accounts and assets, as well as for submitting claims:
- The death certificate
- The will or trust
- All insurance policies
- Most recent credit card statements
- Investment accounts, such as 401k plans and IRAs
- Most recent savings and checking account statements
- Most recent mortgage statement
- Last two years of IRS tax returns
- Birth and marriage certificates
- Most recent credit report of your loved one
- Notify banks and financial institutions, organizations, etcActive accounts with various organizations must be halted or closed after your loved one has passed to prevent the bills from continuing to run up. Plus, some organizations may offer surviving family members one-time death benefits. After your loved one has passed, notify the following organizations of their death:
- Social Security Administration
- Your loved one’s employer
- Insurance companies
- Credit card companies
- Credit bureaus
- US post office
- Utility companies
- Apply for survivor’s benefitsMany organizations your loved one was a part of may offer benefits to immediate surviving family members. For instance, the Social Security Administration will offer $255 to survivors as a one-time death benefit. Also, cash benefits may be paid out to heirs from insurance policies, 401k funds, unused holiday time from their loved one’s employers, and so on.
- Pay final bills and prevent financial fraudAfter you’ve settled most or all of your loved one’s finances, keep in mind that you might still need to file property taxes and income taxes at the end of year. There are also steps you can take to prevent your loved one’s name from being used in cases of identity theft and financial fraud.
- Keep your loved one’s obituary short and simple so sensitive personal information is kept private, such as their address, birth date, and age.
- Be as brief and possible on social media. While many relatives are tempted to turn to Facebook to post memorials, tributes, and details surrounding the deaths of their loved ones, many outsiders can view this information and use it to commit fraud.
- Shed important documents and paperwork. This will prevent third parties from dumpster diving and stealing mail and other sensitive personal information.
At Heartland Cremation, we understand that cremation is a simple and worry-free way of remembering and memorializing your loved one, and that is why we will work with you in arranging a simple cremation service. For more information, please contact Heartland Cremation at one of our greater Kansas City area locations.