Losing a Loved One

After the loss of a loved one the question of what to do next can often be overwhelming. The following items listed below will hopefully provide you with a helpful reference as to what areas should be considered when a loved one passes away.


Review the Decedent's financial affairs and look for any estate planning documents, such as Wills and Trusts, along with any other relevant documents, including:

• Funeral and Burial Plans


• Safe Deposit Agreements and keys


• Life Insurance Policies


• Pension-retirement benefits


• Marriage, birth and death certificates


• Health Insurance, make claims for the final illness


• Unpaid bills


Secure multiple copies of the death certificate as soon as possible.


Contact the Social Security Administration and any other government agencies or benefit program that may be making payments to the Decedent.


Investigate employee benefits, including accrued vacation pay, death benefits, retirement plans, deferred compensation, final wages, and medical reimbursements.


If you are the Personal Representative or Successor Trustee of a Trust, try to make a list of the assets owned by the Decedent or the Trust, in order that they can be administered and distributed according to the wishes of the Decedent.


Look for insurance policies or annuities which may continue for other family members and other assets. Contact the Insurer with respect to any current policies or annuities.


If there is a surviving spouse, make sure veteran's benefits or other “joint and survivor” benefits are collected by the surviving spouse.


The income taxes of the Decedent for the year of death need to be filed, and any tax due must be paid. If there is a surviving spouse, the surviving spouse and Decedent can file a joint return for the year of death.




*Any discussion of taxes is for general informational purposes only, does not purport to be complete or cover every situation, and should not be construed as legal, tax or accounting advice.  Clients should confer with their qualified legal, tax and accounting advisors as appropriate.