Passing of a Loved One

When a loved one dies, it is difficult to deal with immediate financial responsibilities that occur with this sometimes unexpected event. The stress of dealing with finances adds to an already stressful time. These first steps can help alleviate some of that stress.

Take Your Time

This is an emotional time. Don’t make emotional decisions. People may make rash decisions under stress that they will regret later. Delay making any major financial decisions immediately following the death of your loved one until you can research and make decisions on next steps with a clear head.

Gather Necessary Documents

  • Will and/or trust: If they exist, gather the original will and estate planning documents. These documents will dictate many decisions you will face, including distribution of assets and other property.
  • Death certificate: You will need to present certified copies of the death certificate to financial institutions, insurance carriers, and other companies. Make sure to request a sufficient number of copies.
  • Financial documents: You will need to track down all of the decedent’s accounts. This may have been done by your loved one, but make sure it is comprehensive. You’ll need information for accounts like:
  • Bank and investment accounts
  • Mortgage/loan statements
  • Retirement accounts
  • Insurance policies
  • Tax returns
  • Bills (utilities, credit cards, property taxes, non-recurring bills)

Contact the employer

If the decedent was employed, contact the employer for the last paycheck and payment for unused vacation or sick leave. If there are survivors who were on the decedent’s employer health plan, get information regarding COBRA coverage continuation.


If the person was receiving Social Security, notify the SSA. Any other benefits (VA, pension, etc.) should be notified as well. Cancel or transfer credit cards and cancel subscriptions and automatic payments/deposits.

File tax returns

You’ll need to file taxes for the decedent when the time comes. Keeping that in mind while going through the above can make the process easier

Get help

There are a lot of financial and tax responsibilities that result from the death of a loved one. It can be overwhelming. Take time to grieve and consult an attorney or other professional if you need help.

The death of a loved one is a difficult time. Knowing the first steps to take to address the financial responsibilities will help make the process easier.

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