- In the event the decedent made no provision for
anatomical gifts, many states allow you to make that
decision. In most jurisdictions, the funeral director can
obtain certified copies of the death certificate for you (you
will need several copies).
- Word of mouth may not travel in time for the
- Locate the will, birth certificate, marriage certificate,
Social Security card, and any other relevant documents.
- Note the location and value (you may need to retain an
appraiser) of all real estate, insurance policies, jewelry,
and other assets. Make sure assets are adequately
- Inform the Social Security Administration to stop
payments that were being made to the decedent. Inquire about
- Investigate the existence of any veteran's benefits,
private pensions, or life insurance and make claims at this
- Contact an attorney to assist you. He or she can help you
determine whether probate is needed.
- Petition the appropriate court for probate.
- Place a legal notice in the paper to notify unidentified
heirs and creditors. Contact named beneficiaries and known
- For example, if the decedent owned investment property,
rents will need to be collected.
- This includes expenses, debts, and bequests (paid out in
that order). Court permission may be required before writing
checks through the estate account--keep meticulous
- The federal estate tax return is due nine months after
the date of death. State filing deadlines vary, so check with
the appropriate state agency.
- This is necessary to close the probate proceedings and
relinquish the executor's duties.
- Set up any trusts as outlined in the will.
- Distribute remaining assets to all beneficiaries.
- The federal income tax return is due on tax day
(typically April 15) of the year following death.
State filing deadlines vary, so check with your local tax
- Notify the bank to close the estate checking
- Review and update your own estate plan.