Managing the leftover accounts of someone who has passed can seem like an overwhelming task… but truly, it doesn’t have to be. Eirene is here to demystify the ins and outs of what it takes to close out your loved one’s accounts once they have passed.
On top of taking care of all the other things you need to do when someone passes, one of the most important tasks is to close and cancel your loved one’s accounts. This includes credit cards, bank accounts and even minuscule accounts such as gym memberships. If they are left unhandled, you or your family may be on the receiving end of a lot of bills - a headache that you can entirely avoid.
Whether you’re helping to manage things or are the executor of the estate, the list of accounts that you have to close can seem never ending. Sure, it could be helpful to have an estate attorney who can help you navigate this labyrinth, but the costs could be astronomical; managing all the details yourself can help the process easier on yourself.
1. Make a list:
Start off by getting organized. By creating a list of all the accounts and documents, you can begin the process with ease. Working from the easiest to the hardest, or the largest to the smallest could be a good tactic to get going - taking it all on at once can create a lot of anxiety and feelings of overwhelm. Our suggestion: begin with your loved one’s main accounts (banking, credit, loans) and work down from there to the smaller things (internet accounts (i.e. social media), gym memberships and even things like their Disney+ account).
Our tip: Unsure of what accounts exist? Online banking and mail can help give you hints at what accounts your loved one has open.
2. Gather all the documents you can find:
Once you’ve made your list, you can get on finding the necessary documents to help support and validate your involvement in the end-of-life process.
Not every company needs them, but documents such as the will or living trust that name you as the executor and the death certificate -- which Eirene provides as part of our services -- can help make the process smoother. There are companies, such as bigger banks, that will definitely need proof, so having these documents on hand is a must!
3. Inform the Credit Bureaus:
There is an increasing worry around identity theft, and it only gets worse when someone passes away. Services such as Equifax offer credit monitoring for a low price that can help you keep tabs on your loved one’s name and account. The service will notify you if any suspicious activity is occurring.
4. Get on the phone:
Probably one of the most time-consuming parts of the entire process, hopping on a call with the various banks and companies in order to close the accounts will make certain that it’s actually being done. Having that verbal confirmation from the company can go along way, and help you avoid future mishaps. While you’re speaking to the company’s customer service representatives make sure to get the name of the representative, a call reference number and the date and time.
Our tip: make sure to download any accessible statements, documents or information on any of these accounts before you shut them down. You may not be able to retrieve them after, so take the time to print them or put them somewhere safe.
Don’t forget to cancel any recurring payments that may exist on any accounts! This can be a nasty surprise later on if you’re not careful. Examples include online streaming services, subscriptions to newspapers, gym memberships, etc.
5. Following up:
Some companies will require you to follow up in writing after you’ve spoken to them. This is where having all the necessary documents, such as the death certificate, will come in handy. If it’s their policy, you may need to provide a written letter that explicitly states the deceased’s vital information (account number, home address and name) and that you are the executor.
6. There will be bills to be paid...
But this is not a burden that is on the shoulders of the executor. There will undoubtedly be leftover amounts to be paid, but anything owed will come straight out of the estate, and not your pocket.
Navigating the process may take some time...
There is a lot to consider when you’re managing your end-of-life arrangements. When it comes to account closures, it can seem like a never-ending and overwhelming task, but by taking it slow, and being smart about it, you can manage this process with ease.