Salt Lake City Office
2150 East 1300 South,
No one is ever ready for the death of a loved one. Everyone has a different experience and way of dealing with a loss. This is a difficult time. Take the time to grieve, take care of yourself and each other, and remember to be kind to yourself. Don’t expect too much of yourself, sometimes just getting up and breathing in and out is enough. The death of a loved one is not a good time to take on difficult or new things. Don’t make important decisions in a hurry. Give yourself the time you need. Working with people you trust to help you along the way can make a difficult process a little bit easier. The steps below can help you with the process.
⦁ Locate any health care powers of attorney, advance health care directives, funeral and burial instructions and review them for instructions about final wishes regarding funeral arrangements.
⦁ Locate any information relating to prearranged funeral services or pre-purchased burial plots.
⦁ If your loved one has served in the U.S. Military, check for information on Military Honors available at burial.
⦁ Check with the decedent's banks to see if they have any safe deposit boxes.
⦁ Locate the original copy of the will or trust, if there is one.
⦁ Locate all the legal and financial documents that pertain to the deceased person's assets such as deeds, vehicle titles, stocks, bonds and insurance policies.
⦁ Locate and secure important personal documents such as driver's license, social security card, passport, birth certificate, divorce decree, legal separation agreement, marriage license, military separation papers, citizenship and retirement documents.
⦁ Maintain a detailed list of all expenses relating to the final care and/or death of the decedent. You will probably be able to obtain reimbursement for these expenses from the decedent's estate or trust, and some of these expenses will be deductible for estate tax or income tax purposes.
⦁ Contact the deceased person's financial advisor, CPA and estate planning attorney. The attorney will prepare any documents necessary to confirm the authority of the successor trustee of the trust. This will give the trustee access to assets within the trust to cover costs of the funeral and/or other related expenses.
⦁ Request a minimum of fifteen (15) death certificates from the funeral home. Most life insurance policies and related assets require an original certificate with the claim form.
The deceased's financial advisor will often help with the following:
⦁ Contact the insurance agent or agency handling each life insurance policy and request death benefit claim forms. If the deceased had a financial advisor, they will often do this for you. If you know your loved one had a life insurance policy, but you cannot find it, contact the American Council of Life Insurers (www.acli.com), which offers guidance in tracing missing policies.
⦁ Notify all other insurance carriers i.e., health, long term care, umbrella, disability, accidental death, travel, vehicle, homeowners or renter's insurance.
⦁ Get a list of all the beneficiaries of the insurance policies with their age, relationship to deceased and their current address and phone number.
⦁ Contact the deceased's current and past employer to see if any retirement plans or life insurance policies are in place and request the necessary claim forms.
⦁ Gather all of the decedent's bills and expenses that are coming due, bank and brokerage statements, and last year's tax return.
⦁ Locate and organize notes regarding assets and liabilities, such as Promissory Notes, Loans, Business Interests, Patents, and Royalties
⦁ Check with banks and credit card companies to see if there was additional life insurance connected with the decedent's accounts.
⦁ Contact all of the financial institutions that hold any assets of the deceased. Tell them you need the date of death values on each asset in each account. Ask them to send you a copy of this information. Note the name of the individual assisting you.
⦁ Locate and secure any items mentioned in a governing document, will or trust or documents of title.
Many companies make every attempt to help the families of their employees after a death. They may cut you a check right away for wages owed, vacation pay, sick pay, and life insurance benefits. If the death was the result of an accident on company time, there may also be accidental death and dismemberment benefits. Also notify Worker's Comp, if appropriate.
⦁ Process Life Insurance Claims
⦁ Apply for Social Security Benefits at 1-800-772-1213 (and/or the Veteran's office at 916-731-7300 if applicable) and inform them of the death of the individual. Otherwise you will be required to pay back any monies that are overpaid to the decedent. Many times, the funeral home will have notified Social Security; confirm this with them.
⦁ Close Credit Card Accounts and destroy Credit Cards.
⦁ Notify banks and brokerage firms and remove the deceased's name from any joint accounts.
⦁ Meet with the deceased's financial planner or yours, as appropriate, to develop a long-term investment plan for the estate assets, including any life insurance benefits to be received.
Things to consider: If applicable, contact a human resources (HR) representative of the decedent's employer for help with retirement plans. Discuss the retirement account options best for you with your financial advisor. The best one for you will be different for a spouse, or for a child, or sibling, or other family member.
"Wherever a beautiful soul has been, there is a trail of beautiful memories."