Step-by-Step General Guide on What to Do When a Loved One First Passes Away: Entities to Contact
Coping with the loss of a loved one is challenging, especially when faced with the responsibility of ensuring their legal and financial matters are taken care of. Often, people are overwhelmed and unsure about the necessary steps to take. This may sound like a daunting process, so we have created a general checklist of entities to contact after a loved one passes.
- Social Security: You can contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) to stop the decedent’s benefits, as SSA normally will not stop paying a beneficiary until SSA is notified of the decedent’s passing. Typically, the funeral home, through Vital Statistics will report the decedent’s passing to Social Security, but we recommend that you verify this has been completed. The payment for the month of the death must be returned to SSA, so it is important to contact the decedent’s financial institution to return the full payment to SSA as soon as possible. The Social Security Administration will notify Medicare of the decedent’s passing and Medicare will cancel the benefits on the beneficiary’s behalf. It is important to know that as the decedent’s spouse, child, or parent there are Social Security survivor benefits that may be available to you.
- Insurance Companies: If your loved one has a life insurance policy, contact the insurance company to file a claim. If a beneficiary is named on the policy, the life insurance proceeds will be paid directly to the beneficiary. Alternatively, a policy that is payable to the estate will likely be required to undergo a probate proceeding. It is important to note that many insurance companies will require a long form death certificate, which shows cause of death. Also, be sure to contact any other insurance companies that the decedent held policies with, such as health, car, or home insurances.
- Medicaid: If your loved one received Medicaid government benefits, we recommend that you notify the Department of Children and Families that the applicant is deceased so that they can close out the case. Further, there are additional steps that will need to be taken if the decedent had a Qualified Income Trust or Pooled Trust.
- IRS: Typically, the decedent’s personal representative, appointed within the probate court, will file the decedent’s final tax return, which includes all the decedent’s unreported income earned up to the date of their passing. On the final tax return, the representative will note that the decedent’s passing, which is the only notification to the IRS that is required.
- Financial Institutions/ Credit Card Companies: Notify banks and other financial institutions where the decedent had accounts or investments to close the accounts and address any financial matters.
- Veterans Benefits: If your loved one was a veteran, we advise notifying the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to cancel the deceased’s pension, health, education, and compensation VA benefits. Additionally, you should inquire about VA burial and death benefits that may be available.
- Utility/Monthly Subscription Services: Ensure that monthly subscription services, internet and cable providers, and membership organization fees are canceled to prevent these entities from becoming creditors later.
Most importantly, take time to surround yourself with friends and family for emotional support. Losing a loved one is difficult, but SAMUELS WOOD PLLC hopes this step-by-step general guide can provide relief and guidance on how to navigate handling a loved one’s matters after they are laid to rest. Contact our firm at 561-864-3371 for assistance with your next steps.