What to do after a funeral

Who deals with settling the Estate?

If the deceased had a will, it should specify who is to serve as the executor or personal representative. The person named is responsible for making sure creditors are paid, assets are distributed and estate tax returns are filed. This is usually the person who will investigate what benefits or insurance proceeds, if any, are owed to the heirs.

If the deceased died without a will (intestate), the law typically indicates who’s in charge: usually a surviving spouse, if there is one, or an adult child or parent. A court hearing will be held to appoint someone, and there could be a disagreement if more than one person wants the role.

If the deceased had financial advisors, such as accountants, solicitors, real estate agents, insurance agents, you should contact them and ask if any matters need to be taken care of immediately. 

Others to notify in the days following the death include:

  • state authorities e.g. if the deceased was in receipt of a pension or other form of social security payment or health service 
  • insurance agencies and financial institutions
  • the deceased’s solicitor 

You may need to cancel some, or all, of the following:

  • standing orders
  • newspapers & other journal subscriptions
  • milk deliveries 
  • coal deliveries 
  • telephone and broadband internet connection
  • mobile phone 
  • bin collection
  • rent 
  • TV & radio licence
  • postal services (or have them re-directed)

Documents to locate (or order):

  • death certificate – get this from the attending doctor
  • any documents about prepaid funeral arrangements, burial plots or burial wishes
  • wills
  • trusts
  • life insurance policies
  • pension-retirement benefits and plans
  • investment accounts
  • business and partnership arrangements
  • credit-card statements
  • bank statements
  • cheque books
  • other evidence of assets and liabilities
  • marriage and birth certificates
  • nuptial agreements
  • divorce documentation
  • notes receivable
  • documents of business ownership or business interest
  • stocks, shares, bonds, annuities
  • any title deeds for assets, such as land, vehicles or houses
  • any leases
  • health insurance (to claim for the deceased's final illness)
  • any unpaid bills, notes payable or creditors
  • safe deposit agreements and keys
  • last tax returns
  • Make an inventory of household goods, personal belongings, valuables etc., so that they can be accounted for and properly distributed.
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