There are a number of items to consider following a gathering or celebration. Some things you may be able to do on your own, some things may require the help of an attorney, accountant, or possibly your funeral professional.
As you begin to gather important papers you may want to look for legal documents like a will or copies of a trust, deeds, business agreements, tax returns, bank accounts, earnings statements, birth and marriage certificates, military discharge papers, Social Security Number, vehicle registration, loan payment books, bills, and any other important papers pertaining to your loved one's affairs. You'll need these to file a final tax return and settle the estate; you may want to consult an accountant.
Your attorney will be able to help you with what to do next, including disposition of an estate and transfer of property. Your attorney will also be able to help you update any wills that may need to be updated. Your accountant will be able to help you with final tax returns and also advise you on how to proceed.
Look through the deceased's records for the life insurance policy. Call the agent or the company and ask how to file a claim. Usually the beneficiary (or the beneficiary's guardian, if a minor) must complete the claim forms and related paperwork that the insurance company may require. You may need to submit a certified copy of a death certificate. Remember to ask about payment options. You may have a choice between receiving a lump sum or having the insurance company place the money in an interest-bearing account from which you can write checks. You may also need to change beneficiary information on outstanding insurance policies.
Your funeral professional will notify Social Security of the death. You may also need to contact Social Security for help with benefits for a surviving spouse.
If you have a joint account with the deceased you may be able to conduct business as usual, depending upon how the account was opened. By contacting your financial institution they will be able to answer questions you may have about the account and what to do next.
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