If you’ve recently lost a loved one, we know this is an emotional time when your concentration and memory may not be at their best. Tedious financial matters may be the last thing you want to address but knowing what to expect can simplify the process. Let us help take the confusion out of this trying process with this helpful checklist:
To apply for benefits, the first thing you’ll need to do is gather paperwork. We know this can be a painful task, so it may be helpful to ask someone you trust to help you go through the deceased’s papers.
Some documents will be around the house — check file cabinets, desks, kitchen drawers, or even the garage. If the deceased had a safe deposit box, you’ll need to get a court order to have the contents released.
Try to keep everything organized in folders and hold on to things you think you don’t need; you may need them later.
1. Copies of the Death Certificate
You’ll need to provide a copy of the death certificate when you make a claim for benefits. Some companies require a certified copy — you can get these through the funeral director or from the county health department (there is a charge for each certified copy). Try to estimate how many copies you’ll need — if you’re not sure, start by ordering 10 to 12 copies. You can always order more if you need them.
2. Copies of all Insurance Policies
If you can’t find them or you’re not sure you have the most recent, call your agent or contact the insurance company directly.
3. Copies of Your Marriage License
If you are the husband or wife of the deceased, you’ll need a copy of your marriage certificate to apply for certain benefits. You can usually get copies from the county clerk where your marriage license was issued.
4. Copies of Children’s Birth Certificates
If the deceased had any dependent children, you’ll need their birth certificates to claim certain Social Security benefits. Copies can be ordered from the public health office of the state or county where the child was born.
5. The Original WillYou’ll need the original will — the one signed by the deceased and witnesses. The deceased’s lawyer may have the will, or it may be in a safe deposit box or with other personal papers.
6. A Copy of Veterans’ Discharge Papers
You’ll need a copy of a certificate of honorable discharge to claim any veterans’ benefits. The certificate should show the branch of service, dates of service and rank. If you can’t find a copy of the discharge, you can obtain one by completing Standard Form 180 (SF180).
We understand life happens. Choose from among eight common and not-so-common Life Events in the main Advice & Guidance menu to find helpful articles.
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