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Featured FAQ: Now that the funeral is over, what else do I need to address?

March 16, 2013

There are some important things that need to be done once the funeral is over and friends and relatives have left. Keep in mind that your funeral director is a great resource for you even after the funeral, able to direct you to the appropriate professionals for guidance in all matters.

  • Obtain certified copies of the death certificate: Your funeral director will help you do this and will recommend how many copies you will need for a number of legal and financial forms.
  • Locate the Last Will and Testament: You will need the original; the court will not accept a copy. Contact your family attorney who is the likely holder of the original Will. Check your safe deposit box or in-home or in-office safe. Once located, it will need to be registered at the local probate office. Your attorney can do this for you.
  • Search for essential financial documents: Look through the files where important papers are kept for essential information on assets and liabilities: insurance policies, bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, and loans. These documents will be needed to manage upcoming transactions and to notify financial providers. Contact your financial advisor.
  • Notify insurance companies and file the appropriate claims.
  • Apply for the appropriate death benefits: Your funeral director can help you file the necessary forms for social security, veteran’s, and/or pension benefits.
  • Notify the Department of Motor Vehicles: You will need to transfer titles on all vehicles, including mobile homes and boats registered in the deceased’s name.
  • Talk with the deceased’s employer: This will be helpful in handling retirement plan distributions, employer-purchased insurance benefits, and unpaid vacation pay.
  • Watch the mail: Look for mail regarding any accounts or loans. Cancel magazine subscriptions and catalogs. Contact any organizations with which the deceased had a membership or subscription.
  • Pay the bills: Wrap up any outstanding liabilities and make any changes recommended by your attorney regarding the names on your utilities, mortgage(s), credit cards, and car loans.
  • Consult an attorney: You may want to consult with an estate attorney to learn what else needs to be done on your behalf and with regards to your next income tax filings and possible estate tax payments.
  • Notify your accountant or tax preparer: Provide contact information to your accountant or tax preparer for your attorney and/or estate attorney so they can assist you as a team.
  • Send thank you notes: Contact those who sent flowers and donations or showed a special kindness. Your funeral director can provide thank you cards, if desired.
  • Take some time for you: Be sure to set aside time for you to reflect and relax. Be kind to yourself and don’t try to get everything done at once. Put off making big decisions until you have had time to consider and consult with others.

 

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