Many of us have seen families, maybe our own, go through transitions where you may be caring for your children as well as your aging parents. This burden not only impacts the family emotionally but also financially. Many adult children are faced with challenging situations of affording and organizing moves to assisted living, nursing homes, and eventually hospice care.

Recognizing the time and effort it takes to give aging parents comfort in their last years many people overlook or underestimate the efforts required after their passing to ensure all estate matters are settled.

What needs to happen upon the death of your loved one?

Here are some quick tips to help outline the process:

  1. Request the death certificates: you should contact the Vital Statistics office in the state in which the death occurred and obtain several copies of the certificate. A funeral home may be able to assist with the request but be sure to order enough copies as you will likely need them for various estate settlement matters.
  2. Probate the estate: If the decedent had a will, it will likely name an executor who is tasked with carrying out final wishes and distribution of property. You should consult with an estate attorney to ensure all documents and processes are reviewed and executed according to the law.
  3. Notify financial institutions and advisors: Upon receipt of the death certificate and letter of testamentary, contact all insurance companies, financial advisors, banks, and credit card companies. Most of these entities will require proof of death and may need to speak with the executor to take distribution instructions. Any debts will likely become the obligation of the estate. In addition, you may want to contact the credit bureau to report the death to prevent identity theft of the deceased.
  4. Contact any service providers: Inform all service providers of the death and ask to please discontinue service. You may want to review bank statements/credit card bills to understand all services that were used.
  5. Notify government agencies: For example, surviving spouses and/or children may quality for the one-time $255 death benefit from the Social Security Administration. There may be other survivor benefits available through the Social Security Administration and/or Veteran's Administration so it is worth exploring.

Although it can be hard to look forward when caring for an aging parent it is important to understand the process for settling their estate. If you create a plan, not only will you have peace of mind but your family will ultimately benefit by ensuring all matters are addressed and closed properly.

Caroline Hill, Financial Advisor


(This article contains the current opinions of the author but not necessarily those of Brighton Securities Corp. The author's opinions are subject to change without notice. This blog post is for informational purposes only. Forecasts, estimates, and certain information contained herein should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. References to specific securities and their issuers are for illustrative purposes only and are not intended and should not be interpreted as recommendations to purchase or sell such securities).