The passing of a loved one presents unique emotional challenges related to grief as well as issues of how to handle their administrative affairs in the short term. Once someone has been appointed to handle probate, that executor will be the person responsible for closing out the estate and taking actions on behalf of the estate.
However, what happens in the days and weeks immediately following someone’s death? Who needs to be notified? How does this affect a spouse or other family member?
One of the first phone calls to make is to Social Security. This is to notify them that the family member has passed away, and you will need the loved one’s Social Security Number in order to do this effectively. While on the phone, if you’re the spouse, you might have questions about what to do with a recently-deposited Social Security check. They will notify Medicare or Medicaid, but it’s a good idea to place a separate call to Medicare as well to ensure that the person is unenrolled from any programs.
Contact all three major credit bureaus to make sure they know this person has passed away; unfortunately, some scammers use obituary info as a way to try to steal someone’s identity and open new lines of credit before the credit bureaus know about the death. You can avoid this by placing a call to all of them immediately after Social Security is informed.
When it comes to credit cards, proceed cautiously. If this was a joint account and you were not the primary account holder, the account could be closed and this could impact your credit or block you from access to finances during this very challenging time.
Did you know that for communication purposes, there is a deceased “Do Not Contact” list? You can also contact the USPS so that they do not forward or continue to deliver mail to someone who has passed away. To make sure your family member’s name shows up on the deceased do not contact list, visit this site: https://www.dmachoice.org/.