Dealing with all that comes with the loss of a loved one can be overwhelming, especially if you are also named as the Trustee or Personal Representative of his or her estate.
The most important thing you can do after a loved one dies it to surround yourself with as much love and support as possible. Accept help and free meals. You will be taking on so much in the near future that you must allow yourself the time to grieve. Seek out bereavement counselors or officials in your church or synagogue.
Some things will be handled by the funeral home, such as obtaining copies of the death certificate. It would be best to get 10-12, as you never know who may request one. The funeral home also usually notifies social security of the person’s death.
If you are the spouse and your husband or wife was employed, retired from the military or federal government or receiving pension benefits, then you should notify the appropriate agency so that any direct deposits are stopped. It is usually better to be proactive than to have the agency expect a return of the funds if they are not yet earned. This is also a good time to find out any benefits or payments you may be entitled to and to start that process.
If your loved one had life insurance, then this is the next call. If you are the beneficiary, then the process should be relatively simple. A form may need to be submitted along with a death certificate and proof of identification. If you have no way to pay for the person’s funeral expenses in advance, then a funeral home is usually willing to assist you with the process of assigning some of the life insurance proceeds to the funeral home.
If your loved one was a veteran, then he or she may be eligible to be buried in a Veteran’s cemetery at little or not cost.
Now it is time to begin calling the decedent’s creditors, if you know who they are. This is for several reasons; 1) to notify them of the death of the account holder, 2) to make sure they freeze the account to prevent use of any credit cards after the date of death and to avoid late fees or penalties, 3) to put them on notice of the fact that an estate may be opened in Maryland should they need to file a claim against the estate if the decedent did not have the funds to pay off his debts. Sometimes the account will have debt forgiveness or an insurance policy tied to it to pay off any balance upon the debtor’s death.
If the person had a Will or died without a Will, and left any assets in his or her name alone, then in order to access those assets after that person’s death, an estate will need to be opened in the county in which the person resided when he or she died. The process can often be made easier with the assistance of an estate administration or probate attorney so you do not have to face this alone.
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