Immediate Concerns

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Here are just a few thoughts and tasks to consider in the short term after a loved one dies:

  • Cancel any agency or service that has regularly assisted the person, such as a home-delivered meal program or a home health agency.
  • Notify the Social Security Administration (800-772-1213) of the death to stop monthly payments. Return any Social Security check the decedent received for the month in which the death occurred, even if the death occurred on the last day of the month.
  • Find care for pets.
  • Have someone stay at the home during the funeral to guard against a break-in.
  • Keep records of payments for funeral expenses and other costs related to the death.
  • If the deceased lived alone, here are some additional suggestions:
    • Put lights on timers to minimize a risk of theft. Secure the home in other ways from possible intruders.
    • Make sure the mail is collected, or that a change of address is made with the post office, if appropriate. You don’t want important bills and checks to get lost in the shuffle. The appointed Executor of the estate or trustee of the decedent’s trust is responsible for seeing that creditors are paid, and that usually is done with the advice of an accountant or probate attorney.
    • Stop newspaper subscriptions.
  • Once the morgue notifies you that the death certificate is available, you will need to buy certified copies from them.  Get at least 10 copies.  Send a copy to any of the following if they apply: Social Security Administration, Veterans Administration, banks, credit card agencies, the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, life insurance companies and pension benefit managers.

If you are a beneficiary in a life insurance policy, Social Security benefit, pension, etc., send a certified death certificate as soon as possible to begin the process of receiving what’s due to you.  If you are a surviving spouse who lived with the decedent, you can also request a death benefit from the Social Security Administration.

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