April 25, 2022

The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences that we can go through. It is impossible to be completely prepared for what that experience will be like.

Our advisors and team members strive to do what we can to help our clients manage some of the challenges associated with the passing of a loved one. This includes providing considerations for having your affairs in order, come what may, as well as offering support and guidance about items to address in the wake of a loved one’s death.

Reach out to us to review and discuss your circumstances at any time and, most importantly, when you are ready after experiencing a loss. We are here for you.

What You Can Do in Advance

Planning, organization, and documentation will help to ease the burden on your loved ones during a difficult, emotional time.

  • Request the assistance of an attorney or your wealth advisor.
  • Discuss your situation with your advisor to uncover any opportunities to shore up your financial plan, insurance coverage, etc. We can help you create an inventory of your assets and identify your named beneficiaries if needed.
  • Review your estate plan—at least annually or whenever your situation changes—to ensure it is up to date and includes durable powers of attorney, medical directives (or medical powers of attorney), and named agents or administrators of your wishes.
    • Note: Beneficiary designations supersede your will, so you should also review your beneficiaries on all accounts on an annual basis or whenever your situation changes.
    • Ensure your brokerage or bank accounts have appropriate registrations to match your estate distribution wishes (registered into trusts as applicable, transfer on death, etc.).
  • Consider setting up legacy contacts for your digital estate. For instance, this would give a designated contact the authority to access your digital pictures, videos, or application content (Apple ID or social media accounts) when you pass.
  • Specify your final wishes in writing (if not done in a will), such as memorial arrangements or burial/cremation preferences. Consider including thoughts around what your journey has taught you (personally and financially).
  • Review how medical benefits for you, your spouse and dependents would be impacted at your death. Ensure your beneficiaries know whom to contact and what to expect (i.e., COBRA coverage under a group plan from your employer, state exchange, etc.).
What To Do in the Weeks After a Loved One Has Passed

While this is not a comprehensive list, it highlights the most pressing items to address in the first few weeks after the passing of a loved one. After making the immediate arrangements for the deceased (funeral, memorials, ceremonies), move ahead with some next steps.

REQUEST DOCUMENTATION AND BEGIN REPORTING
  • Request death certificates for your loved one. Coroner’s offices produce them, and funeral homes can usually assist in requesting copies.
    • Ensure you request enough copies to provide to life insurance companies, banks, investment firms, creditors, and any other institutions where the loved one held accounts.
  • If the deceased was employed, contact the employer to notify them. Confirm with the employer any and all benefits to which the deceased and their beneficiaries are entitled (such as back pay, insurance coverage, etc.).
  • Report your loved one’s death to the Social Security administration for the purposes of survivor or death benefits.
  • Notify any life insurance companies as needed for potential payouts.
  • Contact each credit monitoring agency to notify them of death and freeze the credit of the deceased (or ask whether the funeral home assists with this).
  • Set up mail forwarding as needed if the loved one lived at an alternate address.
INITIATE THE PROBATE PROCESS TO HELP SETTLE THE ESTATE
  • Submit for an estate employer identification number (EIN) with the IRS (this can be done online in a few minutes with the right information).
    • Use the EIN to create a bank account in the name of the estate of the deceased.
    • Begin moving any and all assets received on behalf of the deceased/estate into this account.
  • Locate the deceased’s estate plan documents (will, trusts, etc.) and identify the executor/administrator of the estate.
  • Contact a CPA and estate attorney as needed to assist with the settlement of the estate.
    • Contact the probate court to begin the process of settling the estate (generally based in the county the deceased lived; this can extend to other agencies if there is property or assets in multiple states).
    • Individual retirement accounts (IRAs), employer-sponsored retirement plans (such as 401(k)s), transfer-on-death (TOD) registrations, revocable trusts, and rights of survivorship avoid the probate process and will go directly to the designated beneficiaries or survivors.
  • Once all accounts are settled and debts of the deceased are paid, the estate may need a final tax filing to notify the IRS of the decedent’s death.

Again, your wealth advisor can be a valuable resource as you navigate the financial implications of death. Let us know how we can help.


The Mather Group, LLC (TMG) is registered under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 as a Registered Investment Adviser with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Registration as an investment adviser does not imply a certain level of skill or training. For a detailed discussion of TMG and its investment advisory services and fees, see the firm’s Form ADV on file with the SEC at www.adviserinfo.sec.gov, or on the firm’s website at www.themathergroup.com. The opinions and advice expressed in this communication are based on TMG’s research and professional experience and are expressed as of the publishing date of this communication. TMG makes no warranty or representation, express or implied, nor does TMG accept any liability, with respect to the information and data set forth herein. TMG specifically disclaims any duty to update any of the information and data contained in this communication. TMG’s advisors are not licensed insurance agents; therefore, they are not able to provide advice or assist in the purchase of insurance or insurance-related products. The information contained in this document is for informational purposes only and your receipt or use of it (1) is not intended as a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security, (2) is not provided in the course of and does not create or constitute an attorney client relationship, (3) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice, and (4) is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney.

The Mather Group

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