Obtain several copies of the decedent's death certificate, which you'll need for his or her employer, life insurance companies, and/or the decedent's attorney for legal procedures.
Notify Family, Friends, and Associates
Contact by phone and notify the immediate family, close friends, business colleagues and employer.
Locate Important Papers
Locate the decedent's important papers. Gather as many of the decedent's papers as possible, and continue to do so for the next few weeks.
Notify the Attorney
Notify the attorney who will be handling the decedent's affairs. This attorney is any attorney who the family feels comfortable working with. It is recommended to seek counsel from an attorney who focuses his or her practice in estate planning. Make an appointment immediately because a tax return may be due within nine (9) months of death. This meeting is important to review the decedent's estate planning documents and to discuss state and federal death taxes that may be payable. The attorney will also determine the extent to which it is necessary or advisable to open a probate estate.
Notify the Decedent's Financial Advisor
Notify the decedent's financial counselor. Decisions may need to be made regarding repositioning financial assets and tax planning. The financial counselor may also be able to assist you with several of the next steps.
Notify Private Benefits Providers
Telephone the decedent's employee benefits office with the following information: name, Social Security number, date of death; whether the death was due to accident or illness; and your name and address. The company can begin to process benefits immediately.
Notify life, accident or disability insurers of the decedent's death. Give the same information as required by the decedent's employee benefits office (see above), and ask what further information is needed to begin processing the claims. Find out who the beneficiaries are, and ask which payment option the decedent had elected. If there is no payment option, the beneficiaries will be paid in a lump sum.
If family members need emergency cash before insurance claims are paid, a cash advance may be available from life insurance benefits to which they may be entitled.
Notify Government Entities
If the decedent was eligible for Medicare, notify the local program office and provide the same information as required by the decedent's employee benefits office (see Step 6 above).
Notify your Social Security office of the death. Any payable claims may be expedited if you go in person to the nearest office. Look for the address under "U.S. Government" in the phone book.
If the decedent was ever in the military service, notify the Veterans' Administration. Family members may be eligible for death or disability benefits.
Keep Good Records
Record in a small ledger all money you or the immediate family spends. These figures may be needed for tax returns.
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