By: Stephen M. Sutera


We often assist our clients in dealing with the stressful event of a death in the family.  Too often, loved ones will want to complete too many tasks too quickly.  The following represents a list of tasks which are necessary, including possible timelines.

Initial Steps:

  • Contact family and friends.stick_figure_holding_up_question_mark_1600_clr_12577
  • Locate copies of estate planning documents.
  • Locate and review the person’s insurance policies.
  • Contact a funeral director.
  • If the deceased was a veteran, call your local Veterans Administration office.

Within the first three months:

  • Meet with your attorney.
  • File the will.
  • Contact Social Security.
  • Review the deceased person’s employer benefits.
  • Cancel services that are no longer needed.  Examples include cell phone plans, health club memberships, and subscriptions.
  • Cancel credit cards.

In the following months:

  • Change title to assets.  You will need to examine the underlying documents.
  • Deal with distributions to beneficiaries.  Again, you need to examine the underlying documents.
  • Settle the estate.
  • Hire an accountant.

After the estate is settled:

  • Update your own estate plan.
  • Review beneficiary designations for your retirement accounts and life insurance policies.
  • Review your own financial situation, such as your short and long-term cash needs.
  • Review your situation regarding life insurance, medical insurance, and other types.
  • Reassess your investment portfolio to account for additional assets or other changes.

© Stephen M. Sutera