Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be difficult and confusing. However, you do not need to take on this burden by yourself. Our lawyers have decades of experience with estates, trusts, wills, and probate. We can help you with Estate Administration and Probate, and allow you to focus on your family.
Here are four steps to take after the loss of a loved one:
Step #1 - Contact Social Security
You should call your local Social Security office to report your loved one’s passing. If you were married to the individual who passed away, there may be benefits available to you and any minor children. If your loved one was receiving Social Security benefits, it will be necessary to immediately stop these benefits so that automatic deposits into a bank account do not continue.
Step #2 - Cancel Credit Cards
Unfortunately, credit card fraud and identify theft are everywhere. However, there are steps that should be taken after a loved one's death. First, request that all interest stop accruing as of the date of death. You may need to fax or send a certified copy of the Death Certificate and provide formal “Notice of Administration” to each creditor. Generally, credit card companies will request information regarding the decedent’s estate which may not yet be available. This should not stop you from making the appropriate calls and canceling any accounts.
Step #3 - Check Bank Accounts
If you know the location where your loved one conducted their banking, it's a good idea to stop by the local branch to find if any accounts were held jointly and which may be payable on death (POD). Make certain you have at least one certified copy of the Death Certificate and your identification. Immediate access to such funds can help relieve much stress when dealing with funeral expenses, burial costs, and any last illness expense.
Step #4 - Check Insurance and Retirement Benefits
Generally, retirement accounts and life insurance name a beneficiary. Certain forms may need to be completed along with a Death Certificate before access to cash and benefits can be payable to the beneficiaries. It is important to contact a tax advisor before making any decisions about the payment of funds from retirement accounts.