Checklist for losing a loved one

Coping with the death of a loved one is hard.  Most people know little about finance and don’t know where to start. 

Here is what we can do for you.

1.  Help you navigate what may feel like a sea of financial paper written in foreign language

2.  Review pension benefit

3.  Sort out potential life insurance policies

4.  Figure out inheritance payout 

5.  Provide support with professional network

6.  If you haven’t loss a loved one, we can help you organize your financial affair


Financial documents
If you are responsible for dealing with your loved one’s financial affair, you will need the following:

  • Will and any statements of intent for executors, trustees, and guardians
  • Death certificate
  • Insurance, bank, investment, and retirement account statements
  • Tax documents (state and local where applicable, as well as federal)
  • Property deeds, contracts, leases and agreements
Financial institutions
You will need to notify these financial institutions.

Some of the institutions include:

  • Banks and trust companies
  • Life insurance and annuity providers
  • Stockbrokers and investment custodians
  • Retirement plans, pension administrators and IRA trustees
  • Social Security Administration, Railroad Retirement Board and Federal Employees Retirement System (Keep in mind that railway workers are the only private-sector employees who do not participate in Social Security. Also, while current federal employees are now included in Social Security, many federal retirees are not.)
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
Figure out the financial asset of the deceased and set a budget for a funeral.  Some assets may not be immediately available, so plan accordingly.
Will, living trust, and executor
You need to determine if the deceased has a living trust, which usually contains a will.  If you can find this legal document, it will likely outline who the executor is.

If there is no will, you will likely need to work with an estate attorney.

Retirement accounts
The retirement account of the deceased will be subject to the required minimum distribution (RMD) rules.  These rules can be complicated and are time-sensitive.  Therefore, consult with us.
Stock, bonds, mutual fund, and other securities
Taxable investment accounts have tax issues.  Consult with us to understand how your decision can impact your tax situation.
Social security, pension benefits
Monthly Social Security benefits may be available to a widow or widower age 60 or older (50 or older if disabled), a surviving divorced spouse in some circumstances and a widow/widower of any age who is caring for the deceased’s child who is under age 16 or disabled and already receiving benefits.

Survivors may be entitled to the deceased’s pension payment.  To be sure, you will need to exam a pension contract the deceased choose.

Mortgage debt
If the mortgage has not been paid, someone must pay.  We can help you figure out what assets to use to pay for this obligation.  If desired or necessary we can list the house for sales before the lender can foreclose on the loan.
Tax Return
Even after death, the deceased may still need to file a final income tax return.  If the estate is over the estate tax exemption, you may also need to file an estate tax return.
Life insurance, annuity, and other insurance products
If the deceased has life insurance or any insurance-related investments, you will have to fill out the much-complicated paper and decide on various distribution options that may result in adverse tax consequences.  Consult with us for help.