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Wills, Estates, and Trusts: What to Do When a Parent Dies

In the United States, almost three million people die per year. What happens to their belongings when they die?

Depending on the situation, the estate goes into probate. Probate is a long and sometimes frustrating process for determining who gets what. But everything rests on how your parents set up their will, estate, or trust.

A parent’s passing is heartbreaking for the entire family. Regardless of how your parents set up their estate, there are some things you should do.

Read on to learn what to do when a parent dies.

Obtain a Death Certificate

You might need help with¬†how to handle an estate. It depends on how your parents set up their finances. But the first thing you’ll need is a death certificate.

It’s often necessary to turn off gas, electricity, Internet service and more. But without a death certificate, customer service people won’t discuss any of this with you.

If your loved one dies at home, call 911. Someone needs to come and pronounce your loved one as deceased. Be sure and notify the parent’s family doctor as well.

Arrange for the Funeral

Many people have prepaid burial plans. If your parent had one, call the designated mortuary. They’ll handle everything for you.

If there was no plan, it’s tougher. Don’t do this all by yourself. Ask family and friends to help make funeral arrangements.

Notify Family, Friends, and Employer

Have family and close friends help you notify anyone you can think of that should know about the death.

If your parent was still working, call his employer. There may be a final paycheck or even life insurance or other survivor benefits due.

Speaking of life insurance…

Call the Life Insurance Company

If you know your parent had a life insurance policy, call the life insurance company. They’ll need a copy of the death certificate too.

Are you the sole beneficiary of the life insurance policy? If your parent has a surviving spouse, you might not get the entire policy payout.

Social Security

Notify the Social Security office of your loved one’s death. They’ll also need a copy of the death certificate.

Cancel any payments your parent was receiving. You don’t want to end up owing money to the Social Security Administration.

Cancel, Cancel, Cancel

The Social Security office notifies Medicare of your parent’s death. But cancel your parent’s Part D Medicare (prescription drugs). Also, cancel any extra Advantage plans.

Cancel life insurance as well and close out credit card accounts. Notify the three big credit bureaus as well.

To avoid identify theft, cancel your loved one’s voter registration and driver’s license.

Know What to Do When a Parent Dies

It’s never easy when a loved one dies. But you should know what to do when a parent dies. Get legal help if necessary.

Get a death certificate right away. Then notify family and friends and get help arranging the funeral if it wasn’t already planned.

Call the life insurance company as well as the Social Security Administration. Then cancel everything that’s no longer necessary.

Remember to take good care of yourself throughout this process. If you need help finding a good lawyer, please check our directory.

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