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What to Expect
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The funeral or memorial service is over. Things are quiet; the phone isn't ringing as much and fewer people are stopping by to check in on you. Your loved one's death continues to become more of a reality. The very thought of facing your new life fills you with loneliness and dread. It all feels like way too much to deal with..
Now is the time to take care of yourself!
There are two important things to do in the coming weeks and months. One, you need to practice self-care in order to strike a balance in your life. Second, you need to spend some time focused on completing the necessary paperwork for banks and creditors, employers, insurance companies, and mortgage holders. This can be a slow process so be prepared and ask one or two people who may be willing to help you.
If you are the surviving spouse or child, or have been declared as the designated executor, the responsibilities you have over the death paperwork will be extensive.
In her book Elsewhere, American writer Gabrielle Zevin wrote “I have so much paperwork. I'm afraid my paperwork has paperwork.” Her words provide a fairly accurate look at the amount of paperwork that needs to be completed. Here is a checklist:.
Get organized. Locate the documents listed below and be sure to put each into in a set of file folders, keeping them within easy reach:
Before you do anything, get a notebook. It's a good idea to record the date and time of every phone conversation, email, or postal communication. Be sure to include the full name of the contact person and their extension.
Request certified copies of the Death Certificate. Speak with one of our funeral professionals to determine how many you will need.
Check to see if deceased left a will. This may require contacting the family attorney, checking your safe deposit box or home safe, or the Will Registry.
Get the mail redirected, if applicable. Visit the postal service website to learn more about how to submit a Change of Address form.
Stop health insurance coverage. You may need to provide additional information so keep your file folders handy.
Contact employer or union. Determine if there are any death-related benefits available, ask and answer questions, and change any relevant contact information.
Make sure to pay the bills. You may have your bills paid automatically but if not, take care of them before they become delinquent.
Initiate probate. Even if you're not the executor, if you have an interest in the estate, it's possible for you to start court proceedings if the designated executor of the estate fails to do so in a timely way. You may want to find and hire an estate settlement attorney. For more information on how to find an attorney, read our legal advice page.
Notify utility departments. Depending on the situation, the accounts may be closed or the account owner's name and contact details changed.
Transfer title of real and personal property. Whether it's an automobile, boat, motorcycle, RV, or plane, you'll need to inform your state/provincial department of motor vehicles of the change in ownership. At the same time, notify any related insurance companies of the changes.
Close or modify credit card accounts. You will probably need to provide each of them with a certified copy of the death certificate.
Contact life insurance companies. Not everyone has life insurance while many people have more than one policy. You will probably need to provide a certified copy of the death certificate for each claim.
Notify other policy holders of the change in Beneficiary status. If your loved one was a designated beneficiary on the insurance policies, investment, or banking accounts of other individuals, then you will need to notify them of the death.
Arrange to close or modify bank accounts. Depending on your relationship to the deceased, you may be entitled to convert accounts into your name.
Change stocks and bonds into your name. Again, this depends on your relationship with the deceased. You will need to provide a certified copy of the death certificate to all organizations involved.
Report the death to other agencies. Depending on the age or military status of the deceased, you may need to notify either the Social Security Administration or the Veterans Administration (or both). Other agencies of interest include membership organizations: professional associations, service clubs, gym and golf courses, retail stores – just to name a few.
Tend to their digital estate. If they were active on social media, you will need to inform the specific networking sites. You should close email accounts as well as any online banking portal or investment accounts. For more information on dealing with digital death, visit The Digital Beyond or Death and Digital Legacy.
Do You Have Any Questions?
If we can be of assistance to you during this challenging time, call us at 518-273-3500. We'll do our very best to support you.