Primary Goal of this Step
Receive all the benefits you may be entitled to, as quickly as possible.
Primary Tasks: Collect Benefits
Figure out which benefits you might be entitled to receive
Note: You will almost definitely be working with a trust and estate attorney to wrap up the estate (in the next step). It can be helpful to get his or her advice on everything you do here.
Collect as much information as you can about the policies or businesses that might provide benefits:
- Insurance policies. Contact the deceased’s employer to learn about any policies the person may have had through work.
- Financial and retirement accounts. Contact the deceased’s accountant to learn about any pensions, accounts, investments, or funds that you may not be aware of.
- Veteran and governmental benefits. Contact the Veterans Administration and the Social Security Administration.
The deceased’s wallet, filing cabinets, and email accounts may all also be good sources of information as you determine the accounts that may provide benefits.
Gather information to prepare to make contact with these companies
Commonly required information includes:
- The name (and maiden name or previous names) and last address of the person who died
- His or her Social Security number
- His or her date of birth and death
- Death certificate
- Your name and address
- Your relationship to the person who died (proof may be required)
- Your Social Security number
- Your birth certificate
- In some cases, you may be asked to provide:
- The deceased’s most recent W-2 forms or federal self-employment tax return
- The name of your bank and your account number so benefits can be directly deposited into your account
When contacting insurance companies you may be asked to provide:
- The name of the primary beneficiary
- The name of the contingent beneficiary
Contact the companies you identified, and provide them with the necessary information
While some companies will allow you to file for benefits over the phone, some will require a mailed letter or form.
Many governmental agencies will allow you to submit a form online: