I know it’s weird probably, to talk about death again. But while it is fresh on my mind, I thought I would share a few things my Mother-in-law did that made her passing easier for me to take care of. At least for all the people and businesses that needed to be notified. It is amazing how much paperwork there is that needs to be taken care of, and how easy some companies are to deal with, while other companies require so much more documentation in order to cancel things.
My Mother-in-law had a folder in her kitchen drawer. She showed me on several occasions where to find it, and everything in it was up to date. She and my Father-in-law wrote a will together many years ago, which each one of her sons had a copy of. But several years after his passing she wrote another will. This one was shorter and simpler but had also been notarized. This is the most current will and is the one we are using for determining her wishes. So, my first suggestion for everyone, young or old, myself included, is to write a will. Get it notarized so it’s official, and if you need to change it, shred the old one and notarize the new one so there aren’t any questions.
She also had a list of the first people to contact on her passing. She had a life insurance that would cover the cost of the funeral, and then we needed to contact the pension offices of both her and her husband to let them know she had passed. She had account numbers already listed along with any other numbers she thought they might need such as social security numbers and things. These people were super helpful. The life insurance company contacted the funeral home directly to verify her death, and they will need a certified death certificate when those show up in the mail. But they issued the check quickly. The pension offices were also very helpful, again, they will need a certified death certificate to finish their paperwork but got everything canceled quickly so nothing had to be taken back from the account after it had been deposited. Make sure you have easy access to those account numbers and phone numbers.
The bank was really easy to take care of. My mother-in-law had already put me on her account several years earlier. At her passing the bank simply removed her name from the account. They too will need a death certificate to finalize their paperwork, but the process was super simple. Willow is a small town, so the people knew Virginia and I very well, and they had already heard about her passing before I had gotten in on their next open business day. This is something I have thought a lot about concerning my accounts. Adding one of my children onto the accounts so there are no hiccups when myself and/or my husband dies because that person is already on the account. If you have a family member you trust, or child you can trust this responsibility to, this is a great way to help transition any remaining funds to family without issues. This made paying for the funeral a simple matter of writing a check.
The other companies I have called have been really helpful, the utilities, credit cards, cell phones, etc. However, they cannot cancel the services of the deceased family member without death certificates. Consequently, some of the bills will have to be paid for a month or more afterward while we wait for the certified death certificates. These companies don’t usually require a certified copy, but they at least want a photocopy of the original for their records. It’s good to have a little extra money for those bills in the interim between the death and the certificates arriving which can take between 3 and 6 weeks.
When ordering death certificates, order at least 6 or 8 certified copies. The life insurance and pension offices require the official copies, while some of the other companies are happy with a copy of the original, however, they have said they will make the copy at their office when I bring in the original. So, make sure you get enough. They aren’t free. I believe the funeral home told me they were $20 each. The number we ordered was included in the final cost of the funeral, but it does add cost, so keep that in mind.
Death is not a fun topic for most of us to think about, but a little planning ahead of time can make it so much easier for family, especially in their time of grief when it’s hard to think about everything that needs to be done. Unfortunately, when someone we love dies, the world doesn’t stop turning and there are things that need to be dealt with in a timely manner, so it doesn’t come back and bite us later on down the road. I hope this is helpful, regardless of whether we are close to the age of dying or still young and having fun, we need to plan for the future, not only for ourselves, but for our families as well.