When we lose a parent, there is also the need to wind down and finish the business aspects of that parent’s life. No matter how limited or extensive these activities are, this is often a time consuming and draining set of tasks. Whether this means shutting off essential services such as utilities, cleaning out a home, concluding financial and legal obligations or arranging for the distribution of personal belongings, these tasks can raise emotions, anxieties, sadness and even resentment.
Sometimes these necessary tasks can be spread out over time to allow for the emotional grieving of those left behind. Often, however, there is an urgency to finish these tasks because of time restrictions, financial needs and other obligations of children and other heirs. It is often ideal to be able to have time to grieve before tackling the closing of a home, but this is not always possible.
Ideally, children and other potential heirs will know ahead of time where important papers are located and have a list of important advisors, such as attorneys, financial advisors, accountants and spiritual or religious leaders. Often this is not the case, so the information below should be helpful in knowing how to approach this task.
Here is the first step to help facilitate this process:
Step 1: Understanding the nature of the business that needs to be resolved
- Gather all of the important information that will enable you to wind down your parent’s business, including:
- All recurring bills, such as utilities, mortgages, homeowner association bills, insurance policies;
- Collect all bank accounts, credit cards, investment account information, Social Security card, birth certificate or naturalization papers and Veteran administration papers;
- Ask the funeral home for 10 copies of the death certificate (you may not need this many, but many places require an original to verify death);
- Make certain that you have contact information for all family members and others who may be potential heirs;
- Contact those individuals who were acting in advisory capacity such as attorneys, financial/investment advisors and guardians as these individuals can be helpful to you in knowing what you need to do to carry out the final wishes of the individual and to file a final tax return.
Step 1 can take some time. Step 2 will be in the next post.
Please share your experience(s) with this aspect of losing a parent or loved one. Did it take you a long time to sort through paperwork, or were your parent’s ultra organized?