Fundamental To-Do’s For Houston Families When Loved Ones Pass Away

Calla lilly flowerLosing a loved one is a difficult experience. Yet, during this time, you must complete a variety of tasks and make important financial decisions. The following checklist may help guide you through the matters that must be attended to.

If you have lost someone you love, it's difficult to know what to do next. In addition to the emotional stress of losing someone close to you, you may also be dealing with financial issues you weren't prepared for. Take some advice from a recent article in the Des Moines Register titled "Important financial steps to take following a death." The article contains a helpful checklist to help guide you through the matters that will need attention.

Here are some of the initial tasks:

  • Contact family members, friends, and clergy;
  • Make funeral, burial, or cremation arrangements (there may be final wishes detailed in his or her will or estate planning documents);
  • Notify family and friends of final arrangements;
  • Contact the deceased's workplace, union, and professional and volunteer organizations;
  • Talk to your employer about bereavement leave;
  • Place an obituary in the local paper;
  • Notify your Estate Planning Attorney; and
  • Obtain certified copies of the death certificate (needed when applying for benefits and settling the estate).

You should also take a look at your loved one’s financial records to see if you can locate his or her estate planning documents. While you are at it, be sure to collect deeds, insurance policies, titles, marriage certificate (if relevant), birth or adoption certificates of children, and military discharge papers.

Report the death to the Social Security Administration. If your loved one was receiving benefits via direct deposit, ask the bank to return funds received for the month of death and after that to Social Security. Do not cash any Social Security checks received by mail, and return them as soon as possible.

The original article recommends making a list of assets and placing safeguards on them to protect any property. See to it that the mortgage and insurance payments are paid while the estate is being settled.

Within one or two months after death, you should meet with your estate planning attorney to determine if probate is required and update your estate planning documents.

These are some very valuable steps to keep in mind when a loved one dies. Read the original article for more information. If you have not organized and planned your own estate, then there is no time like the present.

For additional information on estate planning, probate and other elder law topics in Houston, please click here to visit my website.

Reference: Des Moines Register (August 19, 2014)"Important financial steps to take following a death"

Contact Information