This is not a short list, and frankly, it isn’t riveting reading. However, if you have had a family member pass away, this is the information you and your estate planning attorney need to help settle the decedent’s final affairs. An even smarter approach would be to gather these materials before someone dies, but that doesn’t always happen. This useful article from The Balance, “Important Papers to Locate After Someone Dies,” will help, regardless of your family’s situation.
- Account statements, including bank accounts, investments, and retirement accounts.
- Life insurance policies. You may be required to show the original documents.
- Beneficiary designations. This could include payable on death accounts and transfer on death accounts.
- Real estate deeds
- Titles for cars and boats
- Stock and bond certificates–if held in certificate forms.
- Corporate, LLC or partnership documents
- Account statements
- Business licenses
- Income tax returns
- Pre- or post-nuptial agreements and amendments, if any
- Utilities, cell phone, credit card, storage unit bills
- Property tax and mortgage bills
- Lines of credit or any outstanding loans
- Medical bills
- Funeral bills
Estate Planning Documents:
- Last will and testament, plus codicil(s), if any
- Revocable living trust and amendment(s), if any
- Legacy letter, if there is one
- Income tax returns – federal and state for the last three years
- Gift tax returns -federal and state
- You’ll need to order several from the funeral home
In addition to these documents, locate the decedent’s Social Security card and Medicare or Medicaid information.
It is a lot of information to gather, especially during a time of grief. Some people find this process cathartic, as they work through years of documents. Others may require help from another family member or a professional from their estate planning attorney’s office.
Reference: The Balance (Jan. 1, 2019) “Important Papers to Locate After Someone Dies”