17 Things Most People Forget After Someone Dies

Written By Jill Taylor

When a person dies, it’s easy for their partner or family members to overlook things while they process shock and grief. Despite the pain of losing a loved family member, it’s important to remember to organize these 17 things to prevent problems later on.

Digital Footprint

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Most people leave a digital footprint during their lives that remains after they die. Family members of a recently deceased person often forget to manage or delete their email accounts, online subscriptions and memberships, and social media accounts.

Closing Bank Accounts

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When a person passes away, their bank accounts that another person doesn’t jointly hold will become deceased accounts. Investopedia explains that “a bank usually cannot close a deceased account until the person’s estate has been settled and closed, typically through probate,” which people sometimes neglect or forget to do.

Personal Belongings

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It may be tempting to call a removal company to remove a deceased loved one’s belongings, especially if they accumulated a lot during their lifetime. Still, it’s worth taking the time to sort through it. There may be sentimental belongings and valuable heirlooms in their home that are deeply personal.

Medical Bills and Insurance

documents Medical Insurance Not Covering Dental or Vision
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When a person dies, their medical bills and health insurance policies must be addressed. Relatives sometimes forget to settle medical bills and cancel health insurance policies, which can rack up debts that eat into the deceased estate.

Utility and Service Accounts

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It is important to cancel or transfer utility accounts if relatives of a deceased person live in their home. Relatives should also inform service providers, including internet, cable, and phone companies, of their relative’s passing.

Notifications and Documentation

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The grief and shock of losing a spouse or family member can make some people forget that they need to notify banks and other authorities of the death. USA.gov recommends reporting the death to “banks, credit card companies, credit bureaus, and other financial organizations,” the Social Security Administration, the IRS, and the state motor vehicles office.

Digital Estate Management

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If a deceased loved one had a digital estate, it’s important for the digital executor to access and safeguard these digital assets. Online accounts and passwords need to be accessed and sometimes shut down.

Grief Counseling and Support

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Grief is a normal process following the death of a loved one. People often struggle to cope with their grief after losing a spouse or parent, so it’s important for them to consider getting help. Seeking professional counseling services or joining support groups can help them cope with grief and begin emotional healing.

Social Obligations and Responsibilities

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While the death of a loved one can be unexpected and shocking, it’s essential to quickly inform other family members, friends, and colleagues. A funeral or memorial service may also need to be arranged if the deceased requested one in their will.

Social Security Benefits

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Relatives of a recently deceased person who received Social Security often forget to check if they are eligible for survivor benefits. The Social Security website explains that “a surviving spouse, surviving divorced spouse, unmarried child, or dependent parent may be eligible” and that they should apply by calling or contacting their local Social Security office.

Estate Taxes and Inheritance Laws

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It’s important to understand the estate taxes and inheritance laws in the state where a loved one lived and died. Filing the necessary tax returns and complying with laws and regulations will save them from legal headaches later on.

Employee Benefits and Retirement Accounts

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A deceased person’s employer and HR department must be notified of their death. Retirement assets will be passed down to designated beneficiaries through probate, so it’s important to start the probate process.

Safekeeping Important Documents

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When a loved one dies, it’s important to secure their important documents, such as deeds and passports, and store their legal and financial records. Properly stored and organized records will be much easier for future reference.

Estate Planning and Probate

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The relatives of a recently deceased person with a will, a testator, usually include an executor. Investopedia explains that “when a testator dies, the executor is responsible for initiating the probate process.” The testator must initiate the process to identify and distribute assets.

Addressing Debts and Obligations

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The family members of a deceased person need to identify any outstanding debts they had and negotiate repayment plans if necessary. The surviving partner of the deceased should handle any joint debts or obligations they had.

Emotional and Mental Well-being

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While making all the necessary arrangements and letting family, friends, and colleagues know about a loved one’s passing is important, prioritizing self-care during mourning and finding healthy outlets for grief and stress, whether hobbies or exercise, will be helpful.

Continuing Education

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If a person dies while enrolled in an educational institution, the school, college, or university must be notified. Bankrate explains that federal student loans will be discharged when someone dies, but “proof of death is required.”