Who needs to know that the deceased person has passed away? Of course, family and close friends will be made aware by grieving loved ones, but how do you know who else should be notified?
1. Calendar. Check the deceased’s calendar for appointments scheduled that need to be canceled.
2. Address Book. Go through the deceased’s address book for possible relatives and friends in remote places who might not hear of the death without a special note or call.
3. Credit Card/Bank Statements. Check the deceased’s credit card and bank statements for potential automatic payments that will need to be canceled and notice of death given.
4. Social Security Administration (800-772-1213). This notification must be made right away. Social Security Checks are always paid for the month prior to receipt. If the person was receiving SS payments, the payment for the month of death must be returned, no matter which day of the month the person died. If directly deposited, you can notify the bank to return the funds to the SSA. If received in the mail, you must return the check to local SSA office. It’s best to deliver it in person.
5. State Motor Vehicles Dept. Cancel the deceased’s driver’s license or ID card to help prevent fraudulent use of his/her name.
6. State Health Services Agency. Was the deceased person receiving health care benefits (Medicaid) from the State? Because federal law requires the State to seek reimbursement from the estate for the cost of the health care provided, you will want to notify the agency of the death.
7. Credit Card Issuers. Unless you are the surviving spouse with a joint account, cut up all credit cards and notify the issuing bank of the death (send a copy of the death certificate). If you cannot find the credit cards or records, get a credit report. It will reveal all sources of credit. If you are canceling the credit card, consider asking for all or part of the annual fee to be refunded and, if there is a balance, ask that it be canceled, or at least reduced. No annual or late fees can be added while the estate is being administered. If you are the spouse, ask to have the account put in your name alone.
8. Post Office. If there is no one living at the deceased’s home, fill out a Change of Address form at the post office and have all mail forwarded to you, so you will receive all checks, statements, bills, etc. Write “DECEASED” across the top of the Change of Address card. You may need to provide evidence of your authority to act on behalf of the deceased person. Any mail marked for personal delivery will probably not be forwarded, but returned to sender. NOTE: Purchasing a stamp, “Deceased. Return to Sender” would save having to write those words over and over on incoming solicitations and junk mail.
9. Utilities and Other Services. Unless there is reason to keep services operating for a period of time, you should cancel services such as phone, cell phone, cable TV, and Internet access. Other utilities such as electricity, gas, trash collection, or water will need to be kept on until the house is sold or rented.
10. Charities the Deceased Person Supported. Notify political organizations, schools, charities, and other non-profits donated to during his/her life.
a. Cancel the deceased’s passport to avoid possible identity theft.
b. Notify organizations the deceased was a member of.
c. Notify Social Networking Sites. Check the help centers of the social media websites to determine how to report the death of an account holder. You may need to verify your relationship with the deceased and evidence of death when reporting.
If you have questions about this or any other Probate issue, feel free to contact Shirley Bertholf, Certified Probate Real Estate Specialist, at 360-840-1863, Lovinlife@ShirleyBertholf.com