After Someone Passes

After Someone Passes — Important Things to Handle if your Spouse or Partner Passes Away


For most people, losing someone close is a painful, difficult time. But if in addition to grieving it falls to you to handle all the documentation, contracts and contacts, you may face a lot of added stress and paperwork. You’ll need to inform a number of government agencies, process certain claims and notify companies, groups and individuals with whom the deceased did business. These tasks can be overwhelming.

Even with a clear to-do list, taking care of these things is a challenge.

To help make this process easier for you, we’ve put together a checklist of things you may have to work through.

First gather some basic information about the person:

  • Social Security information
  • Date of birth
  • Primary/secondary address
  • Information on financial, insurance, banking, utilities, retail and any other accounts belonging to the deceased. If these are held jointly, adjustments will need to be made as to who now owns or holds the accounts

It can be helpful to also have any of these documents belonging to your loved one:

  • Passport
  • Driver’s license
  • Military I.D. [if a service person]
  • Citizenship papers/green card/visa [if person originally came from another country]
  • Death certificate

Many government agencies and businesses are going to need a certified copy of the death certificate, so one of your first tasks will be to get at least a dozen certified copies. If you get fewer, you may find yourself having to take time to order more.

Credit reporting

The three primary credit reporting companies should also be notified of the death. They are Equifax, Experion and TransUnion. Upon notification, you could also request a copy of the person’s credit report. This will help you verify the other companies with which the deceased did business that may also need to be notified.

Clubs and associations

Was the deceased a member of any clubs or associations? They too should be informed of the death.

Appropriate professionals

You should also reach out to the deceased’s lawyer. If there is a will, the attorney should be able to provide it for you. If there isn’t one, the lawyer should at least be informed what has become of his or her client. The same goes for the person’s financial advisor, accountant or tax advisor.

Depending on certain variables, you may also need to consider whether to turn off utilities (telephone, electricity, cable, gas, etc.) or change the name on the utility accounts. If the person was a renter, you should notify the landlord.

Looking ahead

Even with a clear to-do list, taking care of these things is a challenge. If you want to help the people who will have to do the same for you some day, consider creating a file that collects all this information in one place. Then they can easily put their hands on it when the time comes. It will be one more kindness you do for those you leave behind.