Jan 08, 2021

A List to Reduce Work for Your Next-of-Kin

This useful list and accompanying templates were kindly shared with us by Donna Woodward, a Hospice Volunteer and Dementia-care Volunteer. They will be particularly useful for friends or family in a caring role.

No matter how simple your life is, there is probably more to be taken care of when you’re gone than you realize.  By thinking through and carrying out the tasks below, you will be saving your family and friends administrative hassle after you have gone. 

Family members and friends that survive you need to know where your personal papers are, what assets and debts you have, where important documents are located and relevant information such as account numbers, passwords, and a variety of other things.  Ideally you will have a will directing how you want your assets to be distributed, which you update as circumstances change.  

By completing the checklist below you can help those who survive you to complete all necessary paperwork as quickly as possible. There are templates at the end of the blog that you can use to note down some of the information. It’s also worth noting that if you reduce work for your Executor or attorney, you might reduce costs to your estate too. 

Keep the information from the questions below in a document. Keep that document in a very secure place and only give access to a trusted person, as it contains account numbers and passwords. 

Check list

  1. If you have a will, make sure relevant persons know where it is kept and who can access it.  It should not be kept in a Safety Deposit box unless someone else has the code or key to access it.

  2. Ensure that relevant persons know who your Executor or attorney is so he/she can be contacted as soon as possible in the event of your death. Put the Executor’s name and phone number in some prominent places: refrigerator door, back of bedroom door, glove compartment of your car (along with a copy of your Living Will in case of a medical emergency while you’re alive.)

    Make sure you also let your physician, funeral director, and attorney know who your Executor is so that the Executor can be notified of your death as soon as it happens.

  3. Create and share a list of friends and others who should be informed of your death.

  4. Share any final arrangements that have been made or that you would like (burial or cremation, cemetery name and location, memorial or religious service, music, or readings you’d like).

  5. Provide a list of all your assets (e.g., deeds, stock certificates, bonds, bank accounts), where to find them, and all the corresponding paperwork showing proof of ownership.

  6. Provide a list of all your liabilities and debts and the corresponding details.

  7. Create a list of banks and other financial institutions that need to be informed of your death, plus account numbers and bank locations.

  8. Create a list of your credit cards that will need canceling, including the card numbers, name, and phone number of the issuing institution.

  9. Make a list of the automatic payments being paid by a bank or credit card and the contact details and passwords for the organizations you are paying, e.g., your mortgage, household utilities, homeowners’ insurance. These will need to be canceled/updated.

  10. Create a list of the subscriptions and accounts that need to be canceled, including the subscription name, your account number, and the username and password. Subscriptions could include: newspapers, pharmacy refills, other online subscriptions, and accounts include email and social media like Facebook and Twitter. 

  11. Provide a list of benefits that need to be stopped at the time of your death: e.g., SSA, VA, pensions.  You will need the contact information and account numbers for these.

  12. Provide all your tax records.

  13. Create a folder with all your documents related to any safety deposit boxes, post office boxes, storage units, including their locations, where the keys are kept and any passwords or codes.

  14. If you have a car, then note down your car registration and insurance details, as well as a copy of your drivers’ license.  If your vehicle is to be used before the administration of assets is complete, the title may need to be changed.

  15. Write down who has your house or other keys in circulation and if any locks need to be changed.

Note on finances: You may need an estate attorney, but the county Probate Court Clerk can be very helpful. If your finances are simple and there are no conflicts among survivors, your legal needs may be minimal. 

Below are templates you can download and print for your use.

Actions for those surviving you

  • Inform anyone with Durable Power of Attorney. Durable Power of Attorney (PoA) ends at your death.  After your death, the PoA no longer has the authority to exercise any control over your assets.  He/she may not access your safety deposit box.  The Executor or Administrator of your will get the authority needed from your county probate court.
  • Collect Death Certificates.  The funeral director will provide these to the next of kin or executor.

Note: To prevent identity theft which might later impact the finances of survivors, it is recommended that copies of the death certificate be sent to the credit reporting agencies.

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