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Dealing with the death of a loved one is stressful enough, but not knowing what to do with someone's finances once they’ve passed is an additional burden on a grieving family. To make this process a bit easier, here is a finance tips checklist for you to work through.

When a loved one dies suddenly, you’re overcome with the feeling of grief and loss. It's a tough time where you don't have the physical or emotional energy to do things - and yet day to day life must continue, at some point.

Obtain letters of administration

Before you can reach out to those dealing with the finances of the deceased, you need to provide companies with the proof that you have the right to deal with their financial affairs. The proof you need is in the form of documents called letters of administration.

If you have an attorney, he or she can be the one to secure these documents for you and to help advise on the cost of probate, among other things.  

For those of you who decide to go at it alone, here’s how you can obtain the letters of administration: 

If the person who passed away has written a will and you’re the executor of the estate, you can obtain these letters from a courthouse or city hall in the country where the deceased was living. You must take the official will to the court along with the death certificate. Once the court opens a probate file and validates the will, it will give you the authority to carry out the duties required to settle the estate on behalf of the deceased, in accordance with their will.

Notify financial institutions

A key step is to notify the following places on an individual's death: 

  • Social Security Administration
  • The deceased person's employer
  • Insurance companies
  • Credit bureaus
  • Credit card companies
  • Post office
  • Utility companies
  • Creditors

This will prevent fraudsters accessing accounts and letters being sent out.

Cancel or transfer accounts, memberships and subscriptions

You don’t want subscriptions, memberships or services that are no longer in use to continue running. Cancel those, along with credit cards, insurance and financial accounts that are no longer active. 

Unfortunately, death does not eliminate debts and only a spouse is legally responsible for their partner’s debts if they’ve borrowed money together. It is, in fact, the executor who must pay all debts owed and if possible they should continue to make the mortgage and car payments until home and vehicles have been distributed to the heirs. After that, the recipients are responsible for the payments. 

It would be a good idea to hire an accountant to help you with the deceased’s finances because there are taxes to be paid and other financial issues that you may not be equipped to handle. They will ideally save you time, money and hassle.

The important thing to remember is that everyone's circumstances are different and each case will be assessed differently. Don’t be afraid to ask for help during this difficult time. 

Finance tips to help you cope with loss
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