Hopefully, your loved one will have completed some sort of guidance document, if not our planning document - When I Leave You... (click at end to download pdf ) - then some record with the necessary information in the following four key categories:
Personal papers will include all documentation that is related to the deceased's wishes. The personal details to look for include:
1. Type of arrangements for the disposal of the body
2. Preferences for flowers or contributions in lieu of flowers
3. Instructions for the memorial service
In addition to the name and contact details of the person in charge, the lawyer's name and contact details are critical.
The obvious first legal document needed is the final will. You can obtain a copy of the will from the lawyer if you are entitled to have a copy and did not receive one from the deceased. The lawyer will be able to walk the executor/executrix through the legal process and what needs to be done.
The funeral director will obtain copies of the death certificate for you, inquiring as to the number of copies you will need. At a minimum, request 12 copies to have on hand, as you will need to submit a copy to close out all accounts and begin collecting assets for the estate.
Always ask for extras, as it is easier and less costly to obtain more copies at the beginning.
If the deceased had any proxies in place - including a power of attorney - all cease immediately upon his or her death.
The financial paperwork will be a mountain to climb - it may be small or large, but it will seem like a never-ending journey. In addition to any estate planning that the deceased documented prior to his or her death, all facets of the individual's finances will need to be closed out.
Be aware, there will be costs to be paid at the very start of the process.
Further details are addressed in Financial Details (See UnexpectedPassing.com Menu)
The first asset to identify and claim will be any life insurance proceeds. These will be the easiest to access to cover the costs that will begin to mount.
There are two options for addressing these costs, prior to any life insurance proceeds or any other funds are available to the estate:
Hopefully, the deceased will have left a comprehensive list of their financial accounts and investments with contact information as we suggest in our planning form, When I Leave You. This would also potentially include their retirement funds and social security.
Be aware that the deceased's bank accounts will be frozen as soon as the bank is notified of their death, unless there was an additional signer on a joint account. In that case, the account will remain open and accessible to the co-signer.
There is still a tax liability for the deceased - the personal income tax return(s) will need to be filed up through the year that the person died. Thereafter, returns for the estate will also have to be filed annually, until the proceeds are disbursed. Depending on the type of financial assets that are liquidated, taxes may need to be paid on the proceeds.
Settling financial paperwork will be a mountain to climb
These are especially critical if the deceased eliminated paper statements and moved entirely to electronic communications!
The memberships and subscriptions are important, as each of the deceased's bank accounts (except with a co-signer) will be frozen at the point the bank is notified of the death. This means that any monthly billing that is currently being automatically deducted from their bank account will not be honored.
The very first question when you learn of the death of a loved one, is who is in charge of carrying out their final wishes.
The best place to start is to find their will or their lawyer’s telephone number.
Call immediate family and close friends first!
Are there children or pets that need immediate attention?
Detailed guide to prepare or fulfill final wishes
Where do you start? Physical remains, funeral options, death certificates, memorial services and more
Next hurdle - how to handle financial records and accounts
Key reminders on securing residences - rented or owned, apartments or houses - after the death of a loved one
What you need to know to protect and eliminate the deceased's digital presence
Don't forget subscriptions, memberships and more
Funny, helpful and special stories others have shared to help you through the process
For each section, download an personalize a pdf checklist