A stapler and pins sit atop papers on a desk

When a loved one passes away, it’s an emotional time.   While your immediate focus should be on planning the funeral and spending time with family, there are business matters that should be taken care of as soon as possible.  Here is a list of a few of the things that might need to be handled:

Order multiple certified death certificates.  Your funeral director will usually help you order the initial copies of the death certificate.  You may need to send them in order to take care of the personal business matters for your deceased loved one that we’ll discuss in this article.  If you need additional copies later, you can get those from the vital statistics office of the state in which the death occurred but in some cases, you may pay more than if you order them at the time of death.

Notify Social Security. Your  funeral director may do this for you.  If not, call 1-800-772-1213 or contact your local Social Security office. Benefits will be stopped immediately, and any payment received during the month of death will most likely need to be returned.  If there is a surviving spouse or dependent child, they may be eligible for a one-time payment of $255 or survivor benefits. Ask the Social Security representative if you meet the qualifications.

Notify Medicare/Insurance. If the deceased was receiving traditional Medicare, Social Security will inform the program of the death. If they were enrolled in a Medicare Part D Prescription plan, Medicare Advantage plan or had a Medigap insurance policy, you will need to contact them to make sure they are cancelled.  Look for their contact information on the plan membership card.  You’ll also want to terminate or removed the deceased person from any other insurance policies such as homeowner’s and automobile insurance.

Notify life insurance companies. If there are life insurance policies in place, you will need to complete the appropriate claim forms in order to receive the benefits.   You’ll also want to make sure that the deceased is removed from any policy where they were listed as beneficiary.

Avoid identify theft.  In order to minimize the chance of identity theft, there are several things you should do:

  • Close credit card accounts and notify the major credit reporting agencies (Experian, EquiFax and TransUnion) of your loved one’s passing.
  • Cancel driver’s license or state identification card with the department of motor vehicles.
  • Cancel social media and email accounts.
  • Notify your state’s election board.

Every situation is different and there may be other things you need to take care of depending on if there was a will in place or not.  It’s always a good idea to meet with a probate attorney either way to make sure that everything that needs to be handled is taken care of and done so in an appropriate manner.

Help your loved ones handle your personal matters if you are incapacitated or pass away by putting a Digital Asset Inventory in place.

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