Groups to notify
In addition to contacting close family and friends, here are some other suggested groups to notify of the loss of your loved one.
- Notify the family attorney, the executor and any trustees (if it’s someone other than the widow/widower)
- Locate important documents, including the will
- Review the will and file it with the probate court
- Work with the attorney to change the deed on the house and update any other property ownership information, if applicable
Financial professional: Contact the financial professional to get assistance with filing the death claim with the insurance company and help you navigate important financial decisions.
Bank: Contact the bank about accessing individual accounts or removing the
deceased spouse’s name from any joint accounts.
Creditors: Notify creditors, close credit card accounts and cancel ongoing payments and subscriptions.
Employer: If the deceased spouse was still working, contact the employer.
Social Security office: If the deceased spouse was receiving Social Security benefits, you may not want to spend any payments that arrive after the spouse’s death. It is very likely the government will request that those payments be returned.
Crucial tasks to think about in the near future:
- Obtain 10-20 copies of the death certificate from the funeral director
- Change the title on vehicles
- File tax returns (states have their own deadlines, but federal estate tax returns typically must be filed within nine months of death)
- Take any required minimum distributions from the deceased spouse’s retirement accounts (the penalty for not doing so is 50 percent of the amount that should have been taken but was not)
- Change the number of tax exemptions with your employer
- Stay on top of regular monthly bills (setting up auto-pay online can be helpful, if it isn’t presently in place)
- Remove the deceased’s name from home utility bills
- Review insurance including auto, homeowners, health, disability income (DI) or life insurance policies to see if name changes are needed and pay any insurance premiums
- Re-evaluate day-to-day finances (for example, if your spouse was still working, the loss of income might require altering spending habits)
- Update any beneficiary designations on documents such as wills, insurance policies, mutual funds stock and bonds
This provides general information that should not be construed as specific legal or tax advice nor the law of any particular state. Please seek the advice of a qualified legal or tax professional for your specific situation.