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What Are the First Steps I Should Take After a Loved One Dies?

Take these steps after a loved one dies:

  1. Contact a funeral director. Following the death of a loved one, families usually rely upon a funeral director for guidance. A director can help make arrangements for funeral services and burials. He or she also can provide multiple certified copies of the death certificate (you'll need them for credit card companies, mortgage lenders, etc.).
  2. Locate important papers. Aside from any insurance policies, remember to think about safe-deposit boxes, business agreements, bankbooks, and securities certificates; real estate deeds; wills; recent copies of income tax return forms, W-2 forms and other records of earning; Social Security number; marriage and birth certificates; military discharge papers, Veterans Administration claim number; automobile registration; and installment payment books.
  3. Call the deceased's lawyer to help with the will, if there is one. When a loved one dies, you should seek legal advice on such matters as re-recording property deeds and the disposition of stocks, bonds, and savings. Also, the disbursement of the insured's business and estate assets, and the drawing up of a will for the widow or widower, will require immediate attention.
  4. Contact your tax attorney and financial advisor for help with taxes. You may need to pay estate taxes, gift taxes, as well as income taxes for the previous year of the deceased's life. You have nine months after the decedent's death to pay federal estate taxes.
  5. Notify the post office of the death. Also, go through the deceased's mail and cancel subscriptions, phone and utility services, advises MsMoney.comThis link will open an external site in a new browser.
  6. Gather unpaid bills. Many installment loans, service contracts, and credit card accounts are covered by credit life insurance, which pays off the account balance in the event of the death of a customer. If the bills are not covered, consult your financial advisor about whether to pay them, as the debt may lower the total taxable estate.

Neither New York Life nor its agents render tax, legal or accounting advice. Please consult your professional advisors before determining any appropriate course of action.

Last updated date 10/26/2010

Rating: 4.5/5 (11 votes cast)

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What Are the First Steps I Should Take After a Loved One Dies?

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