When a loved one dies, and the funeral is done, family members often wonder about what to do next. It can be difficult to want to handle legal and paperwork matters in the midst of grieving and even harder when you don’t know where to start.
Here is a list of things that need to be handled:
Social Security. Notify the Social Security Administration about the death; and if you are a spouse or have minor children at home, you may be entitled to benefits.
Military Branch & Veterans Affairs. If your loved one served in the military, contact the branch of the military they served in and the Department of Veterans Affairs to notify them of the death and check for potential death benefits.
Death Certificate. Order multiple copies of the death certificate, as you will need to them to transfer financial accounts, get insurance benefits, and to use in the probate process.
Insurance Companies. Notify insurance companies of the death and find out their procedure for making claims. If your loved one died in an accident, there may be additional benefits available. Be sure to ask about accidental death clauses in the policy.
Pension Companies. Notify any pension or retirement benefit companies of the death. If pension benefits are unknown, ask your love one’s employer or former employer.
Social Services. If your loved one had been utilizing social service or entitlement benefits, notify the agencies administering those benefits.
Banks and Brokerage Companies. Notify the banks and brokerage companies where your loved one has accounts or loans.
Department of Motor Vehicles. Get car and RV titles changed at the motor vehicle registration office.
United States Postal Service. Have your loved one’s mail forwarded to your address.
Creditors. Gather up your loved one’s bills and notify all the creditors that you can find. Pay secured creditors, like the mortgage company, but consult with an attorney before paying unsecured creditors, like credit card companies, if it appears that there are more bills than your loved one had in assets.
If credit cards or other charge accounts were in your name and your loved one’s name jointly, you are responsible for those bills, but you need to remove their name from the account. If the account was in your loved one’s name alone, you are not responsible for that debt except for medical bills and “family necessary” bills if you are the spouse.
County Land Records Office. If you owned property with your loved one as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship, file an Affidavit of Identity and Survivorship with the County Recorder, along with a certified copy of the Death Certificate.
Probate Attorney. If your loved one owned more than $50,000 worth of property or had titled property, like real estate, you should consult a probate attorney to see if your loved one’s estate needs to go before the probate court. If your loved one left a will that named a personal representative, that person should be the one to consult with the attorney.
If your loved one has recently passed and you would like some help with the process, call our office at (612) 206-3701 or fill out our contact form to make an appointment. In most cases, the fees for estate administration get paid out of the estate, so there is no reason to not get the help you need – sooner than later.
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