Writing a Legal Checklist

Death of a Loved One Checklist

The loss of a loved one is traumatic. In addition to grief and emotional turmoil, there are often various aspects of that loved one’s life which need to be closed out. Completing these tasks can take time and hard work.  If you are the person responsible for settling your deceased loved one’s affairs, what are your duties and responsibilities and who can you turn to for help? It is often difficult to know where to start.

Below is a general checklist of some of the work that may need to be done when your loved one dies, much of which we at BSK can help you complete: 

  • Make Funeral / Cremation arrangements. 
  • Obtain one or more death certificate(s). 
  • Contact the employer of the decedent. 
  • Contact the Social Security Administration. 
  • Locate the decedent’s estate planning documents (ie. Will / Trust), if any. 
  • Inventory, control and safeguard the decedent’s assets.  
  • Inventory the decedent’s debts and ongoing expenses. 
  • Determine how each asset is titled and if a probate is necessary.
  • Maintain certain assets (i.e. house, car, etc.) until they can be sold or distributed.
  • Publish notice to creditors in order to bar late claims. 
  • Obtain Tax Identification Number(s) and retitle assets. 
  • Obtain appraisals and cost basis adjustments for appreciated assets. 
  • Make claims for life insurance policies and other payable on Death “POD” account benefits. 
  • Contact the administrators of any pension, annuity, IRA or 401K accounts. 
  • Inventory the decedent’s service providers, cancel unnecessary services, and arrange for continuation of necessary services. 
  • Notify and cancel the decedent’s credit cards (only after seeking legal advice). 
  • Inventory and delete/modify the decedent’s digital assets, such as email and social media accounts. 
  • File necessary tax returns, including final 1040 income tax return and any necessary trust, estate and gift tax returns.
  • Notify entitled beneficiaries and ensure proper transfer of assets to each such beneficiary. 

This above checklist is not all-inclusive or in order of priority, and is not intended to serve as legal advice.  To discuss any of the above and your specific situation, please contact BSK.

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