Coping Financially with the Loss of a Loved One

Coping Financially with the Loss of a Loved One (PDF)

2022 • 36 Pages • 519.38 KB • English
Posted July 01, 2022 • Submitted by Superman

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Summary of Coping Financially with the Loss of a Loved One

Coping Financially with the Loss of a Loved One Financial Guidance for Families “When my mother died, I realized that, in our case, cancer gave us a chance to say goodbye. But even though we said goodbye, we still were not ready for my mother’s death. Probably no one is. There were things to do right away. Who would make the phone calls? Who would take care of the house, which had not been cleaned during my mother’s illness? Who would pick up the relatives? How would Gramma’s death affect our young children? Should they, at 3 and 6, go to her funeral? How would my father get along? These first questions gave way to others. Should my father stay by himself in his large, old house, or should he sell it? How would his health hold up? How would we divide my mother’s clothes and jewelry, since she died without a will? How should she be remembered at the school she founded? What I remember most about this time was how tired we all were. It took a long time to make even simple decisions, ones we knew we would have to make. Even deciding what to decide was hard. I know a lot about finances, yet there were so many financial and other issues to consider. It was all new to me. I had never planned a funeral or taken care of the legal matters after a death. If I had been alone, I would not have known where to start. Fortunately, my father knew what to do, and my job was that of a helper.” Coping Financially with the Loss of a Loved One Financial Guidance for Families ©2011, National Endowment for Financial Education. All rights reserved. 1 Table of contents Making plans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 When death will come soon . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 When death has occurred . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 What to do the day after . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Planning a funeral . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Tasks for the next few days and weeks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Working with a lawyer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Settling an estate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Going through probate . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Executor or administrator . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Finding the assets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Moving on . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Things to talk about . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Financial planning for the survivor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Planning for the future . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Resources for survivors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Other publications in this series . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 You are making plans because a member of your family has died or is expected to die soon You need to plan a funeral or memorial service, apply for death benefits, and settle an estate – all maybe for the first time Here is information to help you do these things step by step The more organized you are, the more smoothly the process will go – even though there may be times when you do not feel at all prepared or organized Working through these steps can help you cope with your grief But keep in mind, there may be times when you simply can’t take in any more details That’s all right Be patient, and give yourself the time you need Grieving is an intense, emotional process, and some days will be better than others If there are still a lot of details to take care of and you feel like you can’t make good choices, ask for help Let others carry some of the load for you Share this information with them to help make the steps easier 2 Making plans When death will come soon Where do I start? Start making lists of the things that need to be done and who will do them Check them off when they are done, and note those tasks that need more follow up Write everything down, or ask someone to take notes for you We’ve put some checklists in this booklet that may help you Collect as much information as you can ahead of time, or know where to find it A 3-ring binder, a desk drawer, a filing drawer, or even a box will do Put everything you need in one place as you collect it Try to organize the papers in groups, such as real estate or taxes If the papers are originals or would be hard to replace, you may want to use a fireproof box that can be locked Make copies of important papers You can keep some of the information in a bank safe deposit box, but make sure the people who need it will have access to it Can I open someone else’s safe deposit box? The bank should have a list of the people who may open a safe deposit box to put papers in or take them out Often a husband and wife, or a parent and an adult child, will both be listed on the same box If the bank shows 2 names on a safe deposit box, either person may open it But if only 1 person is listed, only that person can use it Also, 2 keys are needed to open a box: the owner of the box has one, and the bank has the other You must have the owner’s key to open the box, so be sure you know where it is What happens if the only person who can get into the box is too sick to come to the bank? How do you get the papers that you will need? Call the bank and ask them what you should do Some people have legal papers that name another person to act for them in legal matters while they are very ill These papers are called a “durable power of attorney ” In most cases, a bank will let the person named 3 on the power of attorney open a safe deposit box But a durable power of attorney ends when the sick person dies In some states, the law says that a bank must lock a safe deposit box when one of the renters of the box dies A locked-up safe deposit box is said to be “sealed ” The box can be opened, but a court must order it And it takes time to get a court order But you can still ask the bank to open the box To do this, you must prove that you are related to the person who died, and you must have the person’s death certificate If the bank agrees to open the box, a bank officer will likely search the box – not you The bank officer will only look for a will or for funeral instructions This is a good reason to keep copies of key legal documents outside of a safe deposit box, so people who need access to the information can get to it more easily Isn’t it wrong to think about money at a time like this? It may be hard to think about money now, but it isn’t wrong It’s always better to be informed and make careful decisions Be sure that you understand the cost of everything needed – a casket; the funeral or other service; cremation; a cemetery plot; a tombstone; and also the advice of a lawyer, accountant, or financial advisor (We will go into more detail about these topics later ) If the person who is dying is aware of what is going on, they may have thought about these things Ask them what they want Also, ask them where things are, such as the key for the safe deposit box, their will, and if there are any assets you may not know about Most likely your loved one knows they are dying, and this is a chance for them to help and feel useful This also may give them a chance to get help with any “unfinished business” they may want to take care of at this time When death has occurred Whom do I need to call? You will have to notify authorities of your loved one’s death This is done so a certificate of death can be filed If the person died at home, you may need to call the police You do not need to call emergency services If you have been getting hospice care, they will tell you what you need to do at the time of death What else should I think about right away? Organ donation: Did your loved one want to be an organ donor? Unfortunately, a death caused by cancer rules this out But it may still be possible to donate corneas For many people, cornea donation is one way to bring something hopeful to a sad experience Part of your loved one goes to help another person have a better life Corneal donation does not delay the funeral, and the body is not disfigured If corneal donation is possible, and the family agrees to do it, let the doctor know right away Autopsy: Ask your loved one’s doctor if an autopsy is needed An autopsy is not needed if the death was expected and you know what caused it Still, some family members may want an autopsy even if death was expected For them, an autopsy can give answers that may help them better deal with their loss In this case, the request should be made to the loved one’s doctor, who most often takes care of the procedure in a hospital You can still have the body viewed if an autopsy is done It will not make preparation more difficult for the funeral director If the death was not expected, and you are not sure what caused it, you may want an autopsy In cases like this, the county coroner often does the autopsy or has a pathologist do it 4 Care of the body: Will a funeral home or some other place arrange for the funeral? Most funeral homes and many crematories are also mortuaries This means they are also the places that care for bodies until the burial or cremation is done In most cases, the funeral home or crematory will have an undertaker pick up and move the body They can take the body from the hospital, hospice, or your home Telling others about the death: You will have to tell family members and close friends about the death You may need to find an address book to help you know whom to call If there are many people to contact or the calls are too hard to make, share the job with another family member or friend If your loved one was a member of a group or many groups, call one member of each group and ask that person to tell the rest of the group What to do the day after What paperwork should I look for? Letter of instructions: Look for a letter that may say what kind of a funeral or other service your loved one wanted if they did not talk to you about this beforehand This letter may be at home, with a friend or relative, or in a bank safe deposit box Will: Look for the will, if there is one It may contain funeral instructions, though this is not a good place for them A will may also be kept some place in your loved one’s home, left with the executor or attorney, or in a safe deposit box What else should I do now? Continue to call family and friends to tell them about the death You may have a hard time finding information you need about the person who died, and some of these people may be able to help Ask them Depending on your family or religious traditions, this may also be the time to begin planning the service that the deceased wanted This could be a funeral, a memorial service, or graveside rites In some religious traditions, burial may need to happen within 24 hours of death If your loved one was a member of a church, synagogue, mosque, or other house of worship, you could contact the religious leader for advice and help 5 How do I choose a funeral home or crematory? You may have needed and been pleased with the services of a certain funeral home or crematory in the past Or maybe the deceased had already picked a funeral home or crematory This makes the decision easy But if you need to pick a facility, how do you do it? You may not have much time And you may be tired and very sad Here are some tips that may help: • Ask family members and friends for the name of a funeral home or crematory they have used and liked You may also want to ask the religious leader of your loved one’s house of worship • Check to see if the funeral home belongs to a professional organization, such as the National Selected Morticians, Order of the Golden Rule, or Cremation Association of North America • Call a few facilities to get an idea of costs Ask for a written list of all costs The funeral home or crematory must, by law, give you a written list of the cost of its services This price list will not include the cemetery costs, such as opening the grave, a burial plot, tombstone, or marker If you need one of these, you will buy it separately Ask also about the cost of a casket Comparing the cost of a casket can be hard to do Different funeral homes may call the same casket different names and charge different prices for it You also may buy a casket from a retail casket store or online instead of at a funeral home • If there is time, visit at least 2 funeral homes or crematories that are easy for you to get to Are you treated courteously? Is the facility clean and orderly? Are you comfortable there? • Find out if the funeral home or crematory is comfortable with the type of service the deceased or your family wants Some people opt for non-traditional services, and this might be uncomfortable for some funeral directors For example, funeral directors now report requests for everything from country-western music to a live mariachi band Do I have to use a funeral home? The laws of some states permit burials without using funeral homes, others do not In the same way, only licensed undertakers are permitted to move bodies in some states Call the office of your state’s attorney general to ask about the laws in your state How do I plan a service? Funeral services are changing For example, the funeral may or may not be held in a house of worship; a memorial service may take the place of a funeral; or the person who died may have helped plan the ceremony No matter what type of service it is, include all the family members who want to help The planning can be done at the funeral home or crematory, or the funeral director or counselor may come to your home You will be asked questions like these: • What kind of service will it be? A funeral or memorial service? The person’s body is present at a funeral, and burial (or cremation) is done afterward At a memorial service, the person’s body is not present Often, the body has already been buried with only family and very close friends present Then, a memorial service allows more people to pay their respects to the loved ones of the person who died A graveside service commits the body to the ground It may take place after a funeral or before a memorial service Planning a funeral 6 • Where will the service be held? Will it be in a house of worship, home, mortuary or crematory, or other setting, such as a park, beach, or meadow? • How will the body be treated? Is it to be buried, placed in a vault, cremated, or donated to a medical school? Cremation – burning the body to ashes – is becoming more common Embalming may be needed if the body must travel across state lines or if the person died of a contagious disease Who writes the obituary? An obituary is the death notice that is printed in the newspaper The funeral director or counselor will help you write the obituary They also send it to local newspapers for you To write the obituary, the funeral director or counselor asks you for information about your loved one The obituary also should be sent to any clubs and organizations that your loved one belonged to Make sure the clubs, organizations, or newspapers know how to contact you if they need more information If you send a picture and want it back, write your name and address on a piece of tape and put it on the back of the photo How do I pay for the funeral? Some sources of money are listed below Cash or credit card may be the first things that come to mind Ask about burial insurance or other pre-paid plans if there is a chance that your loved one purchased them You may use: • Cash belonging to the loved one who died • Money in joint bank accounts held by the loved one and the person planning the funeral or other service • Credit cards • Burial trusts established under Medicaid rules • Social Security benefits; call 1-800-772-1213 for information or visit www socialsecurity gov • Veteran’s benefits; call 1-800-827-1000 to be connected to your local office or visit www va gov At the very least, a veteran can get a United States flag to drape the casket Veterans and their immediate family members can also get free burial markers, and their bodies (or the cremated remains) can be placed in national cemeteries Some people set money aside to pay for their funeral, sometimes even picking a funeral home or other facility that they want to take care of the service Check to see if your loved one made any plans like these: • Installment payment plans made with the funeral home or other facility • Special life insurance policies purchased through a funeral home or other facility – in cases like this, the funeral home is the beneficiary of the policies • Special pre-paid trust accounts set up through a funeral home or other facility • A Totten trust (A Totten trust is a special type of bank savings account When a person sets up this kind of account, they name a beneficiary The beneficiary gets the money in the account when the person dies A funeral home, friend, or relative who has promised to use the money to pay funeral costs is often named as the beneficiary Not all states have laws that let you set up a Totten trust ) What if the loved one has no money? Call the Social Services or Human Services department for the county in which your loved one lived They often will pay a part of the funeral and burial costs The amount of help varies depending on your loved one’s age and whether they were getting public assistance This type of funeral is very simple Also, anyone who is currently qualified under Social Security can get a $255 burial benefit 7 The funeral is over; isn’t that the end? No, the funeral is not the end Even after it is over, the survivors have work to do Although it is a good idea to do these things as soon as possible, do them when you feel ready But do try to get started within 2 weeks or so after the death Read the will: First, if there is a will, find and read it If you can, try to read the will before the funeral The will may have funeral instructions – even though it shouldn’t One reason for finding the will soon is that there are time limits for submitting a will as the first step in settling the estate If there wasn’t a will, refer to the section called “Settling an estate” on page 10 Look for letters of instruction: If you haven’t already found them, look again for letters of instruction (They are often kept with the will ) These letters tell the survivors what to do with the loved one’s belongings These letters are not legally binding like a will, but the wishes that are shared are reviewed and kept in mind by the people who help settle the estate Get death certificates: Order certified death certificates You get them from the probate court in the county where your loved one died The funeral home will do this for you You may need as many as 20 or more Order more than you think you will need Why so many? You will need to: • File one death certificate with each place that you apply for death benefits, such as a life insurance company, the Veterans Administration, or the Social Security Administration Many institutions keep the death certificate, but some just want to see it • Change the name on any bank or investment accounts, and most offices want to keep an original certificate in their files For example, if the loved one who died left a bank checking account and an individual retirement account (IRA), you need 2 death certificates If the loved one held stock certificates that are directly payable to you on death (sometimes called a transfer on death or TOD account) for 12 companies, you will need 12 death certificates But if you inherit stock from an estate, you may need a probated will signed by the executor or personal representative of the estate (see the discussion below) before a company will transfer ownership of the stock to you Some institutions require an original death certificate, while others will accept a copy If you run out of originals, you can order more, but this can take time and delay the process of getting things settled Consult a lawyer: The process of settling an estate can be hard to do and take a lot of time You should think about working with a lawyer to help settle all but the smallest estates Changing security codes: Maybe a friend or relative who lived alone has just died Messages are piling up on the telephone voice mail, but no one can listen to them because no one knows the security code (a password or personal identification number [PIN]) If this happens to you and your loved one used a phone company-provided voice mail, call the phone company They will give you a 1-800 number to call You will be asked to identify the loved one who died and give their Social Security number or some other identifying information You also will be asked to identify yourself and say how you are related to the person The telephone company will then let you choose a new security code so you can listen to the messages If you need to change the security code on a home alarm or any other system, call the company that maintains the equipment Tasks for the next few days and weeks 8 How do I help children cope with death? The steps you take to help a child cope with death depend on the child’s age For example, an infant or toddler has no understanding of death and talking about it won’t help What will help is a lot of care – holding and cuddling Four- to 6-year-old children have a very limited concept of time and death For them, death must be explained using very clear words, such as, “We won’t be able to see Grandma anymore Her heart stopped, and no one could get it started again ” Older children and adolescents have a clearer concept of death and, often, a fear of death Their grief might be expressed in complex ways, such as anger, aggression, and guilt Still, these children can understand the pain of others Sometimes offering comfort to others can help them cope with their own grief All children need reassurance after someone they knew and loved dies They need to know that they didn’t cause the death – even if they had bad thoughts about the person Encourage them to talk about their feelings Be honest about death, and don’t use confusing words, such as the person has “gone to sleep” or “gone away on a long trip ” If your loved one was getting hospice care when they died, counseling for family members of all ages may be available This is often offered for a full year after the death of the patient If a child can sit still, they should be allowed (but not forced) to go to the funeral or memorial service Parents should tell children what to expect – what they will do and what they will see at the service If the parents are not sure what the funeral or service will be like, they should ask for more details so they can better prepare their children Where do I begin? How do you find a lawyer who can help you settle the estate – one whom you can afford and will be easy to work with? Start by taking these steps: • If possible, talk with the lawyer who wrote your loved one’s will • Ask friends and family for names • Call the local bar association, and ask for a list of lawyers who specialize in estate planning • Call 2 or 3 lawyers Talk to them on the phone or ask for a brief meeting to talk about your needs Most lawyers offer a short first meeting at no cost What about legal costs? Ask how the lawyer charges Will the fee be a percentage of the value of the estate? Will you pay by the hour? If it is done by percentage, ask the rate It may be as much as 6% to 8% ($6 to $8 for every $100) of the value of the probate estate If it is by the hour, ask the lawyer’s hourly rate Then ask if the work can be done by a paralegal clerk, who most often charges a lower rate Keep in mind that a lawyer who costs more, but has experience and a good reputation in estate matters may do a better job for you than the attorney or paralegal who charges the lowest fee Working with a lawyer 9 Also, keep in mind that all estates have some issues in common In most cases, small estates don’t need a lot of legal advice, just enough to make sure nothing is left undone Simple estates, such as those where all children are from the same parents, assets are in one state, and a current will is available, do not need a lot of legal advice While the lawyer may offer to do many things, you can likely do most of them yourself and use the lawyer only for advice and direction What does the lawyer need to know? The lawyer will want to know what the person owned and how it was titled They will need an idea of how large the estate is and how complicated it may be Most states have a quicker probate process for small estates If the estate is larger, full probate will be needed Your lawyer will ask to see these documents, if you have them: • The will • Trust documents • Deed to the house or properties • Certified copies of the death certificate • Life insurance policies • Names of banks and brokerages that hold your loved one’s accounts • A list of assets and liabilities Assets in certain trusts are not part of the probate estate Most of the time, life insurance policies also have nothing to do with settling the estate But remember that they are needed when figuring out estate taxes Lawyers may ask about assets and insurance, especially if their pay depends on the size of the estate You do not need to share that information, and it is not part of the probate process But if the lawyer is filling out estate and/or inheritance tax forms, this information must be shared Names of banks and brokerages that hold your loved one’s accounts must be part of probate unless the account is transferred to a joint owner at death If the ownership changed upon death, these accounts are not part of probate They do not need to be shared with the lawyer (unless the lawyer is helping you work out estate or inheritance taxes) Do I really need a lawyer? The next sections go over the steps that must be taken to settle an estate After reading these sections, you’ll have a better idea of whether you have the time and energy to settle the estate yourself, or if you should work with an estate lawyer 10 What is an “estate?” All the property or possessions that a person owns at the date of death is part of their estate An estate can include clothes, jewelry, tools, cars, musical instruments, furniture, collections, a house and the land it is built on, cash, bank accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance, stocks, and bonds After a person dies, the estate must be distributed How it is divided – who gets what – is determined by the laws of the state in which the person lived; the will or contract, if there are any beneficiaries named; the way the property is titled; and any letter of instructions Expenses of the estate, any debts that have been left, and estate taxes should all be paid Whatever is left is divided among survivors according to the terms of the will All these are aspects of “settling the estate ” A small estate often can be settled in a few weeks, and most larger estates are settled within 1½ years What is probate? The probate court appoints an executor, personal representative, or administrator and gives that person the responsibility of carrying out the terms of the will or the laws of intestacy This process is called probate A will tells the court how to divide the property in an estate The laws of intestacy are used when no will has been made They are different in each state (See the next section called “What if there is no will?”) Most often, certain property that was in the loved one’s name must first “go through probate” before you or other survivors can use it This property might include bank accounts, brokerage accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, business interests, retirement plans, or life insurance benefits if the estate (not a person) is the beneficiary We will show you how to avoid probate later What if there is no will? A will tells the court how to divide the property in an estate The probate estate is divided only after the deceased’s expenses, taxes, and debts have been paid If the loved one did not leave a will, it is called dying intestate When someone dies intestate, the courts will divide the property among survivors according to the laws of the state in which the person lived The state laws direct how the estate is to be divided, depending on whom the survivors are How do I pay the bills until the estate is settled? You may need to pay your loved one’s bills before the estate has been settled There are some ways you can get money in the meantime Some property passes to survivors automatically; it does not need to go through probate (Still, it will be included as part of the estate for tax purposes ) This property is the beneficiary’s to use and to sell if needed This property might include these things: • Certain joint accounts: Some bank accounts, stock accounts, and real estate accounts are set up so they are owned as “joint tenants with right of survivorship ” Spouses, or a parent and an adult child, may have both their names on an account When one person dies, all of the account then automatically belongs to the other person whose name is on the account A home owned by “joint tenancy with rights of survivorship” or “tenancy by the entirety” transfers directly to the survivor • Certain survivor benefits: These are benefits from life insurance, individual retirement accounts, other lump-sum retirement accounts, and annuities with named beneficiaries Remember, you must tell the insurance company (or other business) about the death and file any required claim forms with a death certificate so the company will know to begin sending you benefit money • Certain savings bonds: Some savings bonds are held in 2 names Or they can be paid to another person after the death of the person who bought the bond Settling an estate 11 You also can apply for the following: • Survivor’s allowance: Ask the executor or administrator to pay a survivor’s allowance from the estate • Survivor benefits: Apply for survivor benefits from Social Security and the Veterans Administration Also, ask the employer’s benefits office or human resources department about any pension, insurance, or death benefits payable to survivors What are the steps in the probate process? The general probate process is as follows (it may change a little from state to state): • The deceased’s residence is legally determined (The legal word for the home is “domicile ”) • The will must be proven to be valid and must be recorded at the probate court in the county where the person lived • If a will exists, your lawyer will ask the probate court to appoint an executor (sometimes called a personal representative) Many wills name an executor The court usually appoints the person named in the will • The executor may need to post a bond with the probate court The bond is a money guarantee that the executor will take good care of the estate Few wills require that a bond be posted • If there is no will, your lawyer or family members will ask the court to appoint an administrator • Executors and administrators can ask the court to be paid for their services The payments come from the estate Often, a member of the family takes on this job without charging the estate What if the debts are greater than the assets? It may seem very cruel that at a time of great personal loss you may be forced to deal with a large amount of debt There may still be bills coming in from hospitals and doctors Maybe there are high balances on credit cards or other loans Where do you begin, and what rights do you have? Identifying debts: After the death of a loved one, you’ll need to get a good idea of their finances Part of this means looking into any debts and assets In most cases, this is the responsibility of the executor or administrator After the death, the executor or administrator posts a notice of the death in publications, such as the local newspaper This notice lets creditors know whom they must contact about any outstanding debts After the notice is published, creditors or collection agencies can no longer call you demanding payment for any debts owed solely by the deceased They must send any bills and invoices to the executor Of course, some creditors might miss the notice If these creditors call, simply tell them about the death and that they need to submit their claims to the executor or administrator Creditors must submit these claims within a certain time period (This time period varies from state to state ) The executor reviews the bills to make sure they are accurate and valid The creditors then must wait for the probate process to take its course A creditor who fails to file a claim within the time limit is usually no longer allowed to try to collect the claim from the estate assets The same is true for any creditor who fails to prove the validity of a claim Going through probate