There will be a variety of documents to gather up when somebody dies, especially if they have not had an opportunity to get their affairs in order. This task usually falls to the next of kin.
- Death Notification Form from attending doctor. If the deceased died in hospital this must be obtained from the hospital, and the designated next of kin must sign for it. It is wise to get or make multiple copies of the Death Certificate.
- The Will if one has been made, and any pre-planned funeral arrangements or wishes
- Life insurance policies/trusts
- Credit-card statements
- Bank statements
- Cheque books
- Paperwork concerning all assets and liabilities
- Pension-retirement benefits and plans
- Investment accounts
- Business and partnership arrangements
- Marriage and birth certificates
- Divorce documentation
- Health Insurance (claims can be made for expenses of any final illness)
Whoever is responsible for settling the affairs of the deceased, be they a nominated executor or next of kin, will also need to go through the following where applicable:
- Documents of business ownership or business interest
- Stocks, shares, bonds, annuities
- Title deeds for assets, such as land, vehicles or houses
- Unpaid bills, notes payable or creditors
- Tax returns
Make an inventory of household goods, personal belongings, valuables etc., so that they can be accounted for and properly distributed.
Settling the Estate
The Will specifies who is to serve as executor or personal representative in settling the deceased’s estate.
It’s this person who will be responsible to ensuring creditors are paid/assets distributed and benefits or insurance proceeds/willed items given to heirs.
If the deceased died without a will (intestate), the law typically indicates who’s in charge: usually a surviving spouse, or an adult child. A court hearing will be held to appoint someone, and there could be a disagreement if more than one person wants the role.