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Steps to take if a loved one passes away

Posted on October 13, 2020 in Firm News

A checklist can help keep you focused on things you need to do when a loved one passes away. Most people feel overwhelmed and devastated over the loss of a loved one. They may have a hard timing focusing on what to do next or who to call. Below is a checklist to help you do what you need to do during a difficult time.

1. Don’t’ Make any life changing decisions
Take things slow. Concentrate on what needs to be done now. Making decisions in a state of grief may result in regrets later. Give yourself time and focus and what needs to be done now.

2. Request certified copies of the Death certificate.
A death certificate is proof of a loved one passing, this certificate will help with closing accounts, filing a claim with the insurance company, speaking with government agencies and planning funeral arrangements.

3. Contact Spouses Employer
If you spouse was employed, call the employer to let them know of their passing. They may also discuss with you any benefits your spouse may have had such as life insurance, medical insurance and 401 (K) accounts.

4. Call the insurance company and file a claim
Have all documents ready when you meet with your insurance company, such as insurance papers and death certificate.

5. Probate your spouse’s Estate
First you will have to file a petition to begin the probate. Notice will have to be given to creditors, and assets will have to be inventoried. Depending on the trustee or executor and the size of the estate you may need to hire an attorney to help with the probate. Probate can be a long process. If your spouse has a Trust you do not have to go to probate if an Trustee was named and is able to carry out the trusts wishes. Even with a Trust some feel more comfortable hiring an attorney in cases where there may be conflicts or a lot of assets to distribute.

6. Gather financial Records
Make sure you have all your financial records, bills, tax returns, bank account records and mortgage or loan papers.

7. Switch over accounts and cancel credit cards
If your spouse was primary on accounts such as utility or credit cards, you will want to call them and either put your name on the account or cancel the accounts.

8. Contact government offices
Call the social security office to learn about benefits (survivor). If you spouse has a car call the department of motor vehicles and let them know. If you had a transfer on death application before your spouse passed, they can assist you with your next steps.

9. Switch emergency contact information
If your spouse was your emergency contact, choose a new emergency contact. Also, if your family had your spouse as an emergency contact remind, they to change it.