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Losing a family member or a close friend is one of the most difficult things to deal with in life. The aftermath can be made even harder to get through when it’s your responsibility to arrange their financial affairs. Not all the companies and organizations you need to get in touch with make it easy for you to do what you need to do, and it can become time-consuming and frustrating.
While some people are grateful for the distraction, many would rather not have to deal with the stress. However, it’s a task that someone needs to do, and there are a lot of things that might require your attention.
Gather Essential Paperwork
Before doing anything related to a deceased person’s finances, you should start by making sure you have all the important paperwork necessary. This will make it easier to take care of everything, from calling their bank to handling their will. While some documents are those you will be able to find in your loved one’s personal effects, you will need to obtain some yourself.
Two of the most important documents are the death certificate and letters testamentary or letters of administration. You will need to use these as proof of death and to show that you are responsible for arranging the person’s affairs. It’s a good idea to have a number of copies of the death certificate – some say 10 or even 20.
To get the letters of testamentary or letters of administration, which show that you are legally handling someone’s financial affairs after their death, you need to do one of a few things. If you decide to hire a lawyer, they will make the process easier for you and help you to get what you need.
Otherwise, you will need to visit your local courthouse or city hall if the deceased has a will and you are the executor of their estate. If there isn’t a will, the court will issue the documents to the spouse or next of kin, who will also become the administrator of the estate.
Other various documents that you will need include the will, if there is one, insurance policies, credit card statements, bank details and investment account information. A mortgage statement, tax returns from at least the last two years, marriage certificate and birth certificates for the deceased’s children will also be helpful. A credit report is useful too, helping you to check for any debts or financial accounts you might not be aware of.
Notify Banks, Utility Companies, Etc.
There are a number of different companies and organizations that need to know when someone has passed away. You don’t want bills to continue to be issued as the money could be taken out of the estate.
You might need to get in touch with the person’s employer, insurance and credit card companies, bank, credit bureaus, utility companies, and even any companies they might have subscriptions with, such as magazines or online streaming services. Some of these will have customer service teams specifically set up for dealing with deaths, which can be very helpful.
Pay Final Bills and Debts
Paying the final bills that the deceased person received will help you to get their estate organized. As the executor or administrator of their estate, you can pay the final balances on their accounts with money from the estate.
Make sure you check whether you could personally be liable for any debts too. In some states, a spouse might need to pay for a deceased person’s debts if they live in a community property state, such as California, New Mexico, or Louisiana. After you’ve used important documents and you’re sure they’re no longer necessary, it’s best to shred them so they can’t give away any personal information.
Paying for a Funeral or Memorial
One of your first thoughts after someone has died is sure to be how to arrange their funeral or memorial service. The first thing to do is check if they have made any requests or organized any funding. Some people will make requests in their will or will have a funeral plan or insurance that will help to cover the costs.
Life insurance might also help to pay for a funeral, and you can pay with funds from the estate. If there’s nothing written down, you might recall any conversations in which they expressed their wishes.
Life Insurance and Benefit Claims
Coping financially after someone who supported you or contributed to your household has died can be tough. Life insurance policies and survivor benefits can help when you need to make sure that financial support isn’t completely removed.
There might be pension benefits or income from the deceased’s employer and benefits due from insurance policies if insurance premiums were paid on them. Life insurance is often the main source of income for family or other surviving loved ones.
However, it’s not always simple to get the life insurance payments you are due. Some people find that they need a lawyer to help them fulfill their claim. USAttorneys can help you find the right lawyer for your insurance claim if you think that an insurance company isn’t treating you fairly. An attorney can fight your case for you and help you get what you deserve.
Consult a Probate Attorney
A lawyer isn’t always essential when you’re dealing with someone’s estate, but it can still be useful to consult with someone. Even if you don’t ultimately end up hiring an attorney, they can give you some advice on how they might be able to help you or whether you really need a lawyer. It’s important to have some help, and having a professional who knows the probate system and has plenty of experience could be the best thing to do.
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to organizing finances after a death. Although it can be confusing and frustrating, you can get through it more easily if you don’t do it alone.