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What Papers Will You Need if a Family Member Dies?

In the event of the death of a family member, you’ll be faced with an array of legal and financial requirements that can be psychologically overwhelming at this delicate time.

In the event of the death of a family member, you’ll be faced with an array of legal and financial requirements that can be psychologically overwhelming at this delicate time. To meet these requirements, you will have to provide certain documents.

Among them might be:

Certified copies of the death certificate (at least 10). Where to get them: From the funeral director or directly from the county Health Department (or similar title).

Copies of all insurance policies. These may be in the deceased's safe deposit box or among his or her personal belongings. Where to get them: From the deceased’s insurance broker or agent or directly from each insurance company.

Social Security numbers of the deceased, his or her spouse, and any dependent children.

Military discharge (if the deceased was a veteran). Where to get it: From the Department of Defense, National Personnel Record Center, 9700 Page Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63132.

Marriage certificate (if the spouse of the deceased will be applying for any benefits). Where to get it: From the Office of the County Clerk where the marriage license was issued.

Birth certificates of dependent children. Where to get them: From either the State or the County Public Health offices where the child was born.

Will. Where to get it: From the deceased’s lawyer, safe deposit box or personal belongings. Wills are also sometimes filed with the local probate court before the deceased’s death.

Complete list of all assets property -- including real estate, stocks, bonds, savings accounts, pensions, 401(k)s, annuities, stock options and other employee benefits, and personal property of the deceased.

TIP: If the death is expected, you should try to gather these papers in advance (other than the death certificate, of course) to lessen the strain at the time of death. Even where death seems in the distant future, it may be a good idea to have these documents on hand anyway. A good document locator system will help you better organize your affairs.