When a loved one dies the details that need to be taken care of by survivors may be overwhelming during such an emotional time.


  • Determine decedent’s wishes.
  • Contact the funeral home and determine cost. (Veterans can be buried in a national cemetery free.)
  • Create an obituary.
  • Track donations, flowers and cards received.

After The Funeral

  • Notify the decedent’s attorney of the death to review the steps necessary to administer the decedent’s estate (the probate process). Bring as much information as possible about finances taxes and debts.
  • Copies of death certificate can be obtained from funeral director
  • Obtain a copy of the decedent’s birth certificate
  • Note the decedent’s creditors and close any credit card accounts.
  • The estate not the surviving family members are responsible for any debts of the decedent. Paying off the debts only increases the net value of the estate, which means higher inheritance taxes.
  • Determine if there is a will and if so who has been appointed executor.
  • The executor needs to determine the contents of the decedent’s safe deposit box
  • If the decedent was receiving Social Security benefits, the social security office must be notified. In certain circumstances monthly benefits may begin.

The probate can be lengthy, sometime stretching two to three years. In some cases probate may be avoided completely, such as when an estate consists of trust assets. Work with your investment and legal professionals to deals with all the issues involved

Conveniently located in Central New York state, Ann Wolfson Associates is a financial planning and consulting firm dedicated to helping individuals, families and organizations reach their financial goals. If you have questions about this article or if you would like to become a client of Ann Wolfson Associates, please call (315)449-4730.

The information presented is general in nature and should not be considered legal or tax advice. You should consult your legal or tax advisor for information concerning your own specific tax situation.