When a loved one passes, the details that need to be addressed can be particularly overwhelming during such an emotional time. We want to take this opportunity to provide you with examples of the responsibilities loved ones are faced with when dealing with the unfortunate reality of losing someone.

Immediately following a death, it is important to locate the decedent’s important documents. Some examples of these documents are their:

  • Will
  • Birth certificate
  • Social Security card
  • Life insurance policies

Collect these documents and store them all in one safe place. Without these documents, it will be challenging to complete certain tasks that require proper identification. You also want to know these documents are in a safe spot to avoid identity theft. Once you receive death certificates, these should be stored with the aforementioned documents as well.

Within one month of their death, you will want to go through the living trust and the will. If the decedent had a living trust, you should contact the successor trustee for the eventual distribution of assets. If needed contact an/your advisor for the review of possible death and/or income taxes owed and receive assistance in sorting and distributing assets. If the deceased did not have a living trust but a will, contact the county clerk and deposit the original will within 30 days. You will also want to contact the executor to begin the probate process with an attorney and contact your financial advisor to review income taxes owed and distributing assets.

Don’t worry about paying the decedent’s credit card bills right away. In most cases, the estate is responsible for settling with creditors. You will, however, need to notify all three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) of the death. While you are contacting them, obtain a copy of the deceased’s credit report. To minimize the risk of identity theft, do not post details of the death on social media until you have notified the appropriate Government and Credit Reporting Agencies of the passing. These steps are important in ensuring their identity is safe and secure.

There are several other steps that should be prioritized within one month of the death. You will want to contact the deceased’s employer. Be sure to inquire about 401(k)/403(b), pension, or company benefits that the decedent may be entitled to.

Another important step is to change the ownership of assets and lines of credit. Although there are many things that need to be completed within the month following the death, these are a few of the most important.

Death is never a fun subject, but we want to help you be as prepared as possible for when the time comes. Ensuring the deceased’s finances are in order should be a big priority. While you are working through this, it is a good reminder to update your estate planning as well. Be sure to reach out to a/your financial advisor with any questions or concerns you may have as you work through this process. They want to make this transition as easy as possible for you by taking some of the unwanted stress off your plate.