What To Do When Someone Passes Away: A Financial Affairs Checklist

What To Do When Someone Passes Away A Financial Affairs Checklist

Free Download: What to do when someone passes away financial affairs checklist

The days and weeks that follow the death of a loved one can be painful as you seek something to ease the pain and assuage the grief. To add to the stress, there are legal and financial tasks to handle, especially if the deceased is an immediate member of your family. A checklist can help you remember and track what you need to take care of in this situation. 

Read on for more information on what to do when someone passes away and how to handle the legal and financial tasks ahead.

What To Do When Someone Dies

My husband passed away; what do I do? What do I do when my parent dies? Every situation is unique, but if you are responsible for making sure business is in order, there are many things you need to do, and it can be overwhelming. 

After the death of a parent or spouse, some of the financial affairs you’ll need to attend to include:

1. Contact the funeral home or crematorium. 

If you plan to hold a funeral, the funeral home will handle the remains and carry out your wishes for services. If the deceased was a veteran, you may want to hold a military service. If you want to do something simpler, you can contact the crematorium in your local area directly and then have a church service if desired. Certain firms require pre-booking and charge a hefty fee if you hire them after the death, so call around to get a reasonable price. Also, be sure to confirm if any pre-need arrangements were made for a funeral or burial. 

2. Obtain the Death Certificate

In order to take many of the necessary steps, the first thing you should do is obtain a death certificate. In most cases, the funeral home or cremation service will prepare this for you. Be sure to purchase at least ten copies, as many places will require an original certified copy.

While you are waiting to receive the death certificate, you can look for the will and other important papers.

3. Find The Last Will and Testament

If your spouse or parent had a Last Will and Testament, it indicates what you should do with their assets when they are deceased. Talk with their attorney or check their safe deposit box or lockbox to get the will. After locating it, you may want to consult a lawyer to help you read and interpret it. 

A lawyer will also help you know how to distribute what goes to the heirs and understand the next steps. Also, in most states, you are required to file the original will with the court within a certain period. You can do it yourself to save money, especially if the estate will not go through probate

If your deceased parent left a will, you might be able to find instructions on handling their wealth or planning their funeral. Or they may have written a letter stating their wishes for handling their bodily remains or memorializing them. 

If they do not have a will, talk with a lawyer soon to help you with the estate. However, if the estate is of negligible size, start with your local municipal probate office about how to proceed. This may save you legal fees. 

4. Gather Other Necessary Documents

In order for you to take care of anything after your parent or spouse passes away, you will need their identity documents. These documents are social security cards, birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce papers, and military discharge, where applicable.

Additionally, other people who will inherit your deceased loved one’s property–such as your siblings if it’s your parent or your children if it’s your spouse–will also need documents to prove their identity.

5. Notify The Proper Parties, Close Accounts, and Cancel Subscriptions

Some of the accounts and subscriptions of the deceased are used to commit fraud. Therefore, cancel all documents and accounts they owned to minimize such incidences. 

Documents to cancel include driver’s license, bank accounts, social security number, credit cards, passports, and health insurance coverages. If you have joint accounts or cards, remove their name. You’ll also want to remove money from accounts, as once the bank learns of the death, they will freeze the account. This can get tricky when you’re a joint account holder, as they may temporarily limit what you’re allowed to do with the account.

Be sure to check any subscriptions, such as app subscriptions, service provider subscriptions, online digital subscriptions, and cancel them.

You should also inform your spouse or parent’s recent and past employers. These employers will help you understand whether your family member had any life insurance coverage through work, as well as tie up any loose ends and pay that may be in limbo. 

Additionally, if your loved one passed away from COVID-19, you’ll want to notify FEMA. If you qualify, you may be reimbursed for burial and funeral expenses. 

Separately, if you have the opportunity before the person’s passing, have them sign a digital will that allows you to close their online accounts. You should also get the password to their phone if possible. As we all know, there is a wealth of information on our phones. 

6. Pay Close Attention So As Not To Become A Fraud Target

It is unfortunate that when you are dealing with the death of your parent or spouse, criminals may try to take advantage of you. You are highly vulnerable and in emotional distress, and criminals try to use this to their advantage. Therefore, be on the lookout for scams. 

For instance, do not sign over any money to a stranger no matter how well they claim to have known your family member. Professional and legitimate financial advisors and attorneys are your most trustworthy at this point, so consult with them if you are unsure if a money request is legitimate. This brings us to the next on the checklist.

7. Work with a Financial Professional

When money is involved, everybody wants to be your friend, including those who don’t mean well. Therefore, to help avoid any future regrets, only trust professional financial advisors like Castle Wealth Management, who have a fiduciary responsibility to work in your best interest.

A financial advisor does not have any personal interest in the money and will offer you professional, honest advice. They will help you revisit your financial plan and create a budget for your new expenses and income. 

They can also help you create a plan for any benefits you receive from the death of your parent or spouse. Additionally, they act as your advocate with people who could be taking advantage of you.. 

Did You Lose Your Loved One? What’s Next

Losing a loved one is harrowing, especially when figuring out what needs to get done. Brace yourself to handle the responsibility ahead to ensure that everything the deceased left behind is dealt with properly.

You may want to consider grief counseling if you are having trouble processing the death. It is available for free through hospice, and many churches have grief groups. Google other free counseling services in your area. 

Don’t make any life-changing decisions while you’re grieving. Most things can wait. Give yourself time to work through it, and don’t let questionable financial professionals talk you into buying products you don’t need.

Get in touch with Castle Wealth Management for professional financial assistance on what to do after your loved one passes away. We will help you navigate the process and handle finances smoothly.

Above all, as you continue figuring out the next steps, remember to take time for yourself to be in the best state of mind possible during this challenging time.


Free Download: What to do when someone passes away financial affairs checklist

Melissa Gannon photo resized

Melissa Gannon, CDFA®, CFP®

Melissa Gannon joined the firm in October 2016 as a Financial Planner. In 2021, she became a Principal of the firm and the Manager Financial Planning. Melissa is a member of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Divorce Professionals, and the Financial Planning Association.

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