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Whom should you notify when someone dies?

The obvious answer is that you should notify family and close friends, but that's the immediate answer. Beyond that, the executor of an estate has to make numerous notifications to begin closing out accounts and transferring assets appropriately into the ownership of the estate. Notification of the death might also spur the release of payable-upon-death benefits associated with life insurance or financial accounts.

How and when you make notifications of a death depend on a number of factors. In some cases, you might need copies of the death certificate; in others, you must complete specific forms provided by the company in question. As the executor of an estate, you definitely want to conduct research to discover all insurance policies that were either held by the decedent or covered the decedent. Notify car insurance, home insurance, health insurance and life insurance companies that are associated with the decedent.

You'll also need to provide appropriate paperwork regarding the death to any institution that holds assets on behalf of the person who passed away. That can include local and online banks, investment brokers, financial management companies and credit unions. Contact each institution or look on their website to discover the process for filing such paperwork or closing accounts and transferring assets.

Another set of businesses to notify include creditors. If the person died owing any debt, that debt is part of the estate. As the estate administrator, you'll have to work to apply assets of the estate toward certain debts before the remaining assets can be allocated according to a will. Estate administration can be complicated, which is why it's a good idea to work with an estate planning lawyer to set the stage for a seamless transition when you are gone.

Source: Dummies, "Estate & Trust Administration for Dummies Cheat Sheet," Margaret Atkins Munro, Kathryn A. Murphy, accessed Feb. 24, 2017

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