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What to Do After Someone Dies
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Immediate Contacts

To Do

Notes


Mortuary/Funeral Home

You will need to call a mortuary and advise them of time of death, present location of deceased and your wishes regarding cemetery/cremation and services.

 

Cemetery/Resting Place

Ask cemetery to coordinate with mortuary services.

 

Person Conducting Services

Have person conducting services coordinate with mortuary and cemetery.

 

Newspaper Information/Obituary

You may with to delegate this task to others or the mortuary.

 

Relatives and Close Friends

Call to inform of death.

 

Employer/Business Associates

Call to inform of death.

 

Person to Give Eulogy

Coordinate with person conducting services.

 

Pall Bearers

Coordinate with cemetery and with person conducting services.

 

Lawyer

Lawyer should be able to help with executor, trustee and other estate matters.

 

Executor and/or Trustee of Estate

He/she/they will need to begin assembling documents relating to the estate.

 


3-5 Day Contacts

To Do

Notes

Obtain death certificates.

Order 20 or so. One easy way to obtain certified copies quickly is to ask the mortuary to obtain them for you and add the cost to its bill.1

 

Life Insurance Agent

Report death to carrier and furnish with death certificates to obtain early claim payment.

 

Military Pension

If deceased is a veteran, there may be death benefits available.

 

Other Veterans Organizations

Check for additional benefits.

 

Trade or Credit Union

Some unions provide automatic death benefits for members.

 

Fraternal Organizations

Some fraternal organizations provide death benefits for members.

 

Social Security

Notify local social security office by phone to speed up benefits.

 

Medi-Cal (California)

If the decedent was receiving Medi-Cal payments, notify the State.

 

Medicare/Supplemental Insurance

Contact to inform of death.

 

Medical Insurance

Arrange for payment of final medical bills.

 

Continuing Health Insurance

Some accident & health policies contain death benefits

 


1. You may also order certified copies of death certificates by writing to the vital statistics office or county health department in the county where the decedent passed away. When writing, you must enclose a check to cover the nominal fee, and give the name of the decedent, date of death and city of death. You"ll also have to submit a statement saying that you are the executor or a close family member. You can get the address and fee by calling the county health department or vital statistics office. A month or so after the date of death, you may also obtain copies from the County Recorder"s Office. (Certified copies of the Death Certificate are needed to collect insurance proceeds and death benefits, to transfer joint tenancy accounts (which may include brokerage accounts, retirement accounts and bank accounts), etc. )

5-10 Day Contacts

To Do

Notes

Other Insurance Agents

Notify agent or company to change name on policies and inquire about possible death benefits. Some auto and homeowners policies contain a death benefit.

 

Bank(s) and Savings & Loan(s)

Name on accounts should be changed - new signature cards may be required.

 

Mortgage Companies

Some mortgage companies have payoff clauses.

 

Property/Real Estate Manager

If you own rental or other real property notify manager or real estate agent.

 

Pension Plan

Phone for forms to be sent so you can obtain benefits, as appropriate.

 

IRA, Keogh, 401(k) Account(s)

Call accountant to obtain information on funds.

 

Money Market Accounts and
Mutual Funds

Name on accounts should be changed -- new signature cards may be required.

 

Stock Broker

Notify brokerage firm of name change.

 

Accountant/CPA

Alert CPA or accountant that possible tax planning changes may be necessary, etc.2

 

Mortgages, Notes, Loans
- Owed to Decedent

Comments or instructions to survivors can be important here.

 

Mortgages, Notes, Loans
- Owed by Decedent

May be due on death.

 

Financial Planner/Investment Counselor

The survivor"s financial situation usually changes -- revision of financial plan may be necessary.

 

County Recorder

Title on real estate, business & other property may need to be changed. Ask attorney for advice as necessary.

 


2. Contact the decedent"s tax advisor or accountant, if decedent did not have one, select one. A final income tax return will have to be filed at some point. An estate tax return may or may not have to be filed. (Currently it only has to be filed if the gross value of the estate exceeds $1.5 million. Even if it has to be filed, there may not be any tax due.)

10-30 Day Contacts

To Do – All can be notified of name change with next bills.

Notes

Post Office

Notify of death, arrange to stop service, change name or address as necessary.

 

Department of Motor Vehicles

Notify of death, change name or address as necessary.

 

Telephone Company

Notify of death, arrange to stop service, change name or address as necessary.

 

Gas & Electric Company

Notify of death, arrange to stop service, change name or address as necessary.

 

Water Company

Notify of death, arrange to stop service, change name or address as necessary.

 

Waste Disposal Company

Notify of death, arrange to stop service, change name or address as necessary.

 

Newspaper/Magazine Subscription

Notify of death, arrange to stop service, change name or address as necessary.

 

Department Stores

Notify of death.

 

Credit Cards

Notify of death.

 

Clubs or Other Organizations

Notify of death.

 

Cable TV or Other Subscription TV

Notify of death, arrange to stop service, change name or address as necessary.

 


10-30 Days – other items to do

To Do – If you are the trustee or executor

Notes

Estate documents

Locate the original will and trust, if any, and make copies.

 

Account statements

Obtain copies of the most recent available statements for all bank, brokerage and similar accounts.

 

Safe-Deposit boxes.

Check for safe-deposit boxes. Note: the bank may put a hold on these.

 

Deeds to real estate

Obtain copies of deeds to real property

 

Check title to property

Determine if any accounts or real estate say they are held in joint tenancy, tenants in common, separate property, or community property.

 

Appraisals

Obtain any recent appraisals or recent purchase agreements (within last five years) regarding all real property.

 

Pink slips for cars

Locate pink slip(s) for the car(s).

 

List assets – including estimated value of each and estimated value of any liens/deeds of trust

  • Bank accounts
  • Cash and cash receivables, uncashed checks, money market funds
  • Promissory notes and other debts owing to decedent
  • Stocks and bonds (including mutual funds)
  • Business interests, copyrights, patents, etc
  • Real property
  • Antiques and collectibles, motor vehicles, including motor homes
  • Miscellaneous assets including, household goods and clothing, and
  • Insurance.

 

List debts and obligations of decedent unpaid at date of death.

  • Funeral and last illness expenses
  • Income taxes
  • Real property taxes
  • Encumbrances or liens on real or personal property
  • Debts outstanding and
  • Approximate expenses of administering the estate, such as court filing fees, certification fees, appraisal fees, etc. (These fees usually total less than $500, unless the estate is large.)