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Interactive Checklists

Death Preparation

Category: Family Issues
This check list is in the following categories:
Be prepared ahead of time with this list of important documents and information needed when there is a death.
Loss of a loved one is traumatic. Death preparation can help reduce the stress during this difficult time.
  • Inform estate executor or family member where they can find your important documents.
    Birth Certificate, Citizenship Record, Military Papers, Adoption Records, Social Security Card, Divorce Decree (if applicable), Marriage Certificate,
  • Read and understand their Last Will and Testament
    If the person does not have a will, or if it is out of date, discuss their wishes for disbursement of property, pets, finances, etc. Have this signed and notarized, if possible.
  • Take care of funeral and burial arrangements in advance.
    After a loved one dies is not the best time to take care of the details of their burial. Decide beforehand if there will be a funeral or small reception, full burial or cremation.
  • Discuss the person's finances and locate financial statements.
    This includes bank accounts, investment and retirement accounts, credit card accounts, and other financial accounts.
  • Have they been receiving social security income?
    You will need to inform the social security office when the person has passed away so they can stop any future social security payments.
  • Will you quality for a Social Security Death Benefit?
    As a child or spouse of the deceased, you may qualify for a death benefit from the Social Security Administration. Call your local social security office to find out.
  • Locate papers for all their assets.
    Mortgage or rental documents, deeds for property, last home appraisal, HUD statements from home purchase and each refinances, receipts for home improvements, vehicle title, and any other information related to current assets.
  • Locate IRS and state tax returns for the past 3 years.
  • Is the person involved in any partnerships or business arrangements?
    Locate phone numbers of those who have business connections.
  • Does the person serve on any boards or volunteer committees?
    Locate the phone number of people who serve in these organizations?
  • Is the person involved in any legal disputes?
  • What outstanding bills is the person responsible for?
    Such as utilities, phone bills, medical payments, real estate taxes, outstanding loans, subscriptions, or memberships.
  • Locate all health records and insurance policies.
  • Does the person have a Living Will or Health Care Proxy?
  • If you are the spouse, is your home protected with a mortgage insurance policy?
  • Has the person who is dying indicated whether they want to be an organ donor?
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Note: Although these checklists have been carefully prepared by individuals who are experts in the subject, we do not suggest the information be used as a substitute for legal, medical, or financial advice. Always consult a professional who understands your specific situation.