by Kristi Robison
My mother passed away recently, and our family is still addressing issues with insurance companies and credit agencies. I've learned a lot through that experience, and would like to share a few productivity tips with you.
A few of the surprises that I've learned along the way were the suggestions to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles, so that they can "close" a driver's licence or identity account of the deceased, preventing identity theft. Another surprise was that some social media sites (Facebook and LinkedIn) required a copy of the Death Certificate to close accounts. Update - Februrary 12, 2015: Facebook will now allow you to identify a Legacy Contact in the event you wish for your Facebook posts to be memorialized, rather than deleted, after your death.)
Finally, I learned another valuable lesson on patience. Many of these actions are started by surviving family, but can encounter delays depending on the agencies (and the number of them) that you are dealing with. Hopefully the information here will help during that time. This information doesn't replace the wishes that your deceased loved one may have stipulated in a Will; but is intended as a guide for you to navigate through this time.
I've created an action list that our family used to divide up who could do what after my mother's death. I'm posting it here in the hopes that it might help you or your family through difficult times.
Action List Following the Death of a Parent or Spouse
These items are in no particular order of priority, and are fairly generalized. They are meant as a tool to use, not a prescription for how to manage your situation. Each situation is different and may require different flavors of the actions listed below.
If the deceased is named in your Will, Power of Attorney, or other legal documentation, eventually you may wish to consider recreating or updating these legal documents. In my family's case, my Mother was named as my Father's primary durable power of attorney, with me as the secondary. 4 months after my Mother's death, my Father had a series of strokes. In order to even obtain hospital updates (due to HIPAA requirements) I had to present the durable Power of Attorney along with a certified copy of my Mother's Death Certificate. We did arrange for an elder care attorney and revision of my Father's legal documents to allow more clear support from both my brother and myself.
There you have it - most of the things that our family did to manage after my Mother's death. Have we missed anything that you've experienced after the death of a spouse or parent? Please let us know!