First Steps After Death
Many people feel the need to try to take care of legal matters immediately after the death of a loved one. However, most legal paperwork cannot begin without original death certificates. When ordering death certificates, begin with ordering two certificates and then the general rule is to order one additional certificate for each financial institution or credit card company of the deceased. Additional copies can always be ordered if you need them at a later time.
You should be aware that Social Security will need to be notified of your loved one’s death. Usually, the funeral director will report the person’s death to the Social Security office. It is important to contact Social Security as soon as possible as the surviving family members may be entitled to receive benefits from Social Security. If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, you must return the benefit received for the month of death or any later months. If received by direct deposit, contact the bank or other financial institution to ask them to return any funds received for the month of death or later.
You will also want to ensure that you continue to collect and open the deceased’s mail so that you do not miss any important bills, financial statements, time-sensitive notices, or subscriptions. It is important to begin notifying credit card companies and subscription services (e.g., magazines, cable TV, etc.) that your loved one has died in order to prevent unwanted charges and fees. These companies, however, may require you to present a death certificate.