Don’t Forget to Do These 5 Things When a Loved One Dies

A smiling elder married couple holding hands and talking to a woman.

It can prove easy to get caught up with emotion when a loved one passes away. When you are already so emotionally overwhelmed, it can be tough to put one foot in front of the other let alone to know what steps you should take next. Here are 5 things not to forget to do when a loved one dies. 

1. Protect their valuables.

Sadly, funerals are often a time of opportunity for selfish people to take advantage of your loved one’s estate. Some people will look at your loved one’s obituary to obtain information on their home address as well as the time and place of their funeral. They then use this information to steal from the decedent’s home while everyone is attending their funeral. That’s why it’s a good idea to remove any valuable assets from the home or even hire a security company to do the same. 

2. Obtain a copy of the death certificate and notify the right people.

Next, it’s best to obtain a copy of your loved one’s official death certificate so that you can file any claims that you have for life insurance or death benefits. You should also notify the Social Security Administration and any retirement accounts that they have of their passing. If their insurance policy specifically listed individuals as beneficiaries, those people must file a claim to receive their portion of the proceeds. This can take at least a month from the time the claim is filed to process. 

3. Take inventory of their assets. 

Unfortunately, death does not end one’s taxes. Your loved one as well as their estate must file a last income tax return. This requires you to take inventory of their assets so that you can figure out a dollar amount. You can easily place a value on certain assets such as bank accounts, but others may be less obvious. In such cases, you may need to have the asset appraised. 

4. Pay off creditors when possible. 

Not only does death not end taxes, but it doesn’t end debt either. Even after your loved one passes away, their debt will become the responsibility of their estate. It’s important to know what your loved one owed and to whom. That way you can pay their creditors whenever possible. If you have the resources to pay them but fail to do so, you can face legal consequences. 

5. Don’t leave money “on the table.”

When a loved one passes away, it’s very easy to only consider that which is right in front of you. However, this means that a lot of people end up leaving money on the table that they could have otherwise had. When administering your loved one’s estate, it’s important to obtain all potential monetary benefits.

Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC Can Help Those in VA Who Are Administering a Loved One’s Estate

Dealing with important tasks after a loved one passes can be very difficult and mistakes can easily be made. That’s why it’s in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced estate planning attorney who has experience dealing with estates and can help to walk you through the process.

At Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC, we work hard to ensure that our clients receive the best outcome. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!

Our estate planning lawyers serve Northern Virginia including Alexandria, Arlington County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, and Prince William County.

Posted in: Estate planning/Trusts