This is an area of particular concern and confusion for most people. Unless someone has unfortunately lost a loved one previously, they do not know what to do. Many people call our office immediately and ask what needs to happen now. The truth is there is nothing that needs to happen immediately. After a loved one passes, take time to grieve and plan arrangements, spend time with family.
Legally, there is not much we can do without first receiving a death certificate, which can often take up to two weeks. When we are notified, frequent concerns include notifying social security, obtaining access to accounts, collecting and paying the decedent’s bills, completing life insurance claim forms and distributing assets.
To address the above referenced concerns, we provide the following information:
- Social Security – While the family has an obligation to notify social security, often times the death is reported by the funeral home. Social Security payments which are made to the decedent during the month of death or thereafter will have to be returned.
- Collecting and Paying Decedent’s Bills – Unless you have been assisting with the decedent’s financial affairs for some time, collecting the decedent’s financial documents and bills can be time consuming. Many bills can wait until the Successor Trustee has been sworn in, if one has not already been appointed. If a bill must be paid immediately, it is important to keep all documentation including proof of payment so you can be reimbursed from the trust estate.
- Completing Life Insurance Claims – Many families rely on the payment of life insurance benefits when a loved one passes away. The designated beneficiary (ies) should notify the life insurance company of the death. The company will then send a beneficiary package to the beneficiary named in their file. Generally this paperwork can be completed easily, however if you have questions, it is best to contact us before proceeding.
- Distributing Assets – There should not be any distribution of assets prior to speaking with us. There is a statutory period which must be exhausted before assets of the trust estate can be distributed. The distribution of assets generally will not occur until much later and should not be a preliminary concern.
The information provided is a general guideline. When we are notified of your loved one’s passing, we will be able to address your individual concerns and questions.