Hopefully you have read our blog titled “Initial Steps to Follow when a Loved One Dies” that discusses the initial steps you must take when a loved one dies. Below is a more detailed checklist of issues that should be addressed after the funeral:
- Estate plan. If you haven’t already done so, you should confer with a qualified estate planning lawyer to discuss the deceased’s estate and what you need to do to properly administer it, if anything. The type of estate planning documents that your loved one signed will dictate what action must be taken. Your attorney can help you with each step of the process.
- Financial accounts. You must determine if the deceased’s bank accounts were held jointly or otherwise transferred to a named beneficiary. If not, you must determine how to transfer the funds. You must also determine if the deceased owned any safe deposit boxes and locate the keys so you can inventory the contents.
- Retirement accounts. All of the deceased’s retirement accounts such as a 401k, IRA, pension or other similar accounts must be reviewed to determine how they will be transferred.
- Creditors. Investigate all of the debts owed by the deceased and inform the creditors of your loved one’s death. Getting a credit report from each reporting agency is a good way to make sure you don’t miss anything. Also look at the medical bills as they come in.
- Utilities. Don’t forget that all of the deceased’s bills (including electric, gas, telephone and cable) should be paid until they are disconnected.
- Automobiles. If the transfer of the deceased’s vehicles was not handled in the estate plan, you must determine whether the title and insurance coverage of the cars, motorcycles, ATVs or boats must be changed. Don’t drive or use the vehicles without checking on the insurance.
- Insurance. You must contact the insurance company that holds the policy insuring the deceased’s home and automobiles for guidance on how to proceed. You should also contact the insurance company holding your loved one’s life insurance policy to discover who the named beneficiary of the life insurance proceeds is.
- Tax Returns. Depending on the date of death, the deceased’s income tax returns may need to be filed soon. Don’t let the deadlines pass. And remember that a surviving spouse can still file a joint tax return for the year of death of the spouse.
The above list is not exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of the documents you will need to locate and the actions you will need to take after a loved one dies. To learn more or for assistance in handling these matters, please contact us to schedule an appointment.
The Astill Law Office has provided high quality legal services for over 30 years. We specialize in wills, trusts, estate planning, and asset protection. If you have any questions about creating a Trust, Will, or estate planning in general, contact The Astill Law Office at 801-438-8698.