The last thing you want to be bothered with when you are grieving is sorting out the finances of your departed loved one. Here are some suggestions to make the process a little easier.
Prioritize. Focus on the most pressing tasks you face. Make sure you have access to the right accounts in order to secure living expenses for yourself and any people the departed person supported. Close any of their outstanding debts.
Gather documents. Get at least a dozen copies of the death certificate. Insurance companies, government agencies, creditors, and banks will require a copy before they share the departed person’s financial information. Having the person’s financial information ready (including a will, insurance policies and retirement plans) will make the process easier.
Notify others. You will need to notify several agencies, institutions and companies of the death. These include the Social Security Administration, the deceased person’s employer, insurance companies, credit bureaus, credit card companies, the post office, utility companies, and creditors.
Take time where you can. Some financial issues can wait. Insurance proceeds and inherited assets can remain where they are for six months to a year. When dealing with intense grief, many people make hasty financial decisions they later regret. Make sure you take time to process your grief and address important financial decisions with a clear head.
Get professional help. If your loved one has not named an executor of his or her estate, you may be faced with meeting this obligation. If he or she died without a will, each state has laws that affect the settlement process, and it’s probably not something you should tackle on your own. Tax returns may need to be filed, and the tax basis of assets at time of death may need to be established. Working with a financial professional will help you navigate the process and minimize your hassle during a difficult time.