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What To Do After The Death Of A Loved One

What To Do After The Death Of A Loved One

January 24, 2018

Losing a loved one is a difficult thing to go through. Even if you've done financial planning, you'll likely be unprepared for the burden of "what comes next.". Below, you'll find a helpful checklist for this often challenging transition.

Request Certified Death Certificates

Many institutions (like insurance providers and banks) require a certified copy of the death certificate to access accounts. You'll want to request a number of certified death certificates, depending on how many different policies and accounts your loved one had.

Stop Auto-Payments and Notify Service Providers

Try to figure out any bills or payments that were being made by auto-pay. If the service is no longer needed, cancel it, so future payments will not be taken out of the account. Notify any other service providers, so they stop services and bills.


Most of the time, you are only legally obligated to pay off a loved one's debts if they were your spouse and you live in a community property state. It is important to find out the laws in the state which you live. An attorney can be a helpful resource when going through the loss of a loved one.

Life Insurance and Funeral Policies

Did your loved one pre-pay for their funeral? You'll need to contact the funeral home to start working with them to plan services. Also, find out if your loved one had any life insurance polices. If they did, contact the life insurance company to start a claim. Typically, anyone can notify the insurance company of the death and start the claim. But, most of the time, the beneficiary (you) will need to complete the actual claim paperwork to receive the benefit.


You'll need to transfer investment accounts to their beneficiary by December 31st of the year following the death. If your loved one had retirement accounts, often times the beneficiary will also need to start taking required minimum distributions, you can learn more on the IRA website here.  If you're working with an advisor at Du Charme Wealth Management, simply contact us and we'll assist in getting the process started. Otherwise, contact your loved one's financial advisor or financial institution to start the process.

Social Security

You will want to contact the Social Security office to notify them of your loved ones death if they were receiving benefits. If your spouse passed away and you have children living at home who are under the age of 16, you may be entitled to Social Security Benefits. Also, if your spouse was taking Social Security, you may want to look at stepping into their benefit. You can learn more on the Social Security Administration's website here

We're Here to Help

Going through the loss of a loved one is one of the most challenging things someone can go through, yet is a natural part of life. Our commitment to strategic, effective financial planning helps us help our clients when a death occurs. We've found that clients who are organized and have estate plans in place have a much easier time with this transition.

As part of our approach, we provide you with a clear picture of your finances, and can help you find an attorney to establish an estate plan. These tools and our services will give your loved ones peace of mind, if something were to happen to you.

This is not a complete list of things to do after the loss of a loved one, but it's a great place to start. If you need help putting together the financial puzzle pieces after the passing of a loved one, please contact us. Also, please contact us if you would like to make sure your own loved ones have as little as possible to worry about if something were to happen to you.