Losing your parents can bring on unexpected responsibilities and rob your time to grieve. AARP’s checklist for what to do when a loved one dies can help streamline those responsibilities. Here’s where to start:
Immediately when you lose a parent, find support in sharing the news. From there, get legal pronouncement of the death and plan any funeral arrangements they had in place.
If your parent was residing alone, remove any valuables from their home and assign someone to check on the property regularly. Then, head to the post office and submit a new forwarding address to receive their mail.
Within a few weeks, obtain 10-20 copies of the death certificate from the funeral director or order them from the vital records office in the state in which your parent passed. You’ll need them for various reasons from claiming benefits to closing out bank, insurance and social accounts.
Locate your parents’ will and see who they named as the executor of their assets. This person will oversee that the distribution of the estate goes according to the wishes documented in your parents’ will. Then, bring the will to the local probate court to begin the probate process. At this time, you or the executor may want to meet with or hire an estate planner or attorney to help close your parents’ estate.
Probate will need to have a list of all your parents’ assets. This includes documentation of items ranging from bank and retirement accounts, real estate property, stocks and bonds to cars, jewelry, and art. During this time, the executor should handle any outstanding bills, mortgage, taxes, or debts on the estate. They should also cancel any unnecessary utilities, like internet, telephone, cable TV or streaming services.
It’s important to contact the Social Security Administration, DMV, credit and insurance agencies, and banks on behalf of the deceased. You will need a death certificate for each of these entities, along with any policy numbers for insurance.
If your parent did not leave any login information, you will need a death certificate to close out or memorialize any social or online accounts, including their email. While this process may take time, closing these accounts prevents spam, identity theft, and fraud.