Death is emotionally overwhelming and despite any amount of preparation, it’s never an easy process. When a loved one dies, it takes a lot of energy and wherewithal to summon the strength for the financial and legal processes. At David Adams Wealth Group, we wanted to give you a checklist to ensure that you handle your loved one’s affairs as seamless as possible. As with any life-event, unless you go through it first-hand, it’s hard to understand the process. Even if the deceased was well prepared, it can still be a lengthy and overwhelming process for family members. This is our reasoning for wanting our Nashville clients in the know and prepared. The following checklist is our recommendation and is not in any specific order of importance or timeliness:
- Check to see if there was a prepaid funeral service. Also to note, If the person was in the military or belonged to a fraternal or religious group, contact that organization. It may have burial benefits or conduct funeral services.
- Death Certificates: You can order certified copies of the death certificate from the funeral director or your hospice. Often you can get them from the local Department of Health office in the county where the death occurred.
Generally, you will need one certified copy of the death certificate for each major asset, such as cars, land, or bank accounts, for which you will need to transfer ownership. You may also need a certified copy for items such as life insurance policies, veterans’ survivor benefits, and annuities. Certified copies are expensive. Ask if a non-certified photocopy is allowed, or if the company would return the original certified copy to you so you could use it later.
- Take the will to the appropriate county or city office to have it accepted for probate.
- If necessary, the estate’s executor should open a bank account for the deceased’s estate.
- Contact a trust and estates attorney, to learn how to transfer assets and assist with probate issues. If they used an investment advisor, make sure to include them as well.
- Contact an accountant or tax preparer, to find out whether an estate-tax return or final income-tax return should be filed.
- Visit their bank to find accounts and safe deposit box.
- Contact their life insurance agent, to get claim forms.
- Contact Social Security (800-772-1213; socialsecurity.gov) and other agencies from which the deceased received benefits, such as Veterans Affairs (800-827-1000; va.gov), to stop payments and ask about applicable survivor benefits.
- Notify any companies to stop services and pension (utilities, local post office, cable, credit cards, property tax, and any subscriptions). We recommend forwarding the mail to the caretaker for a little while to ensure that no bills are overlooked.
- Locate the will, birth certificate, marriage and divorce certificates, Social Security information, life-insurance policies, financial documents, and keys to safe deposit box or home safe.
- Look for records of the deceased person’s desire to donate organs or tissue (usually noted on a Tennessee State driver’s license with a red heart symbol or the word “Donor,” or mentioned in the deceased’s “Final Instructions”). Give this information to the deceased’s doctor or hospice immediately (or before the death, if possible).
Reach out to friends and family members if you are the executor of the estate. Not all of the aforementioned items have to be done by the executor. This is a long list and each item will likely not be an easy “check mark” in the box. You will have many questions along the way and you’ll need to rely on a trusted source for any questions. If you are in the Nashville area, know that we are available to help you should any questions arise – get it touch.
We wish you peace and comfort in your time of loss.
The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of David Adams and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors. Raymond James is not responsible for the content of any website or the collection or use of information regarding any website’s users and/or members.