Bereavement is an emotional time for the family but getting the finances in order is an important task, and also a small way of paying tribute to the departed.
Losing a loved one is devastating. With the deceased person gone, many people try and keep their personal identification documents as a memory. This may be a risky proposition as the personal IDs can be misused in identity theft by scammers and hackers. To avoid any such fraud or chances of any identity theft, file applications for cancellation of all important personal IDs like PAN card, electoral card, driver’s license etc. Bereavement is an emotional time for the family but getting the finances in order is an important task, and also a small way of paying tribute to the departed. As emotionally charged such a situation can be, it is important to immediately take some mandatory steps after the death. Taking steps such as applying for a death certificate would streamline other post-bereavement processes such as applying for insurance claims, closure of accounts and cancellation of IDs.
Here are five such actions to take.
1: Apply for death certificate: It is mandatory under the Registration of Births & Deaths Act, 1969, to get a birth or death registered. If the death happened at home, any family member can report the same to the associated municipal corporation. For hospital deaths, hospitals share their record with the concerned government authorities.
You may need to submit details of the doctor’s report certifying death along with any cremation or burial registrations. Local bodies like the municipal corporation then verify the death and issue an official death certificate with the time and date of death.
A certified death certificate is your biggest documentary evidence for any legal, social or financial compensation on behalf of the deceased.
2: Check the credit report of the deceased: A credit report carries the history of our credit habits. As a relative to the deceased, it is recommended that you apply for their credit report. This will reveal details of any unpaid debts, be it home loans, personal loans, car loans, credit card dues, etc. Usually only family members associated with the deceased get access to their credit report. You will need to furnish the death certificate along with your identification proof to request for such a report. Often, people don’t realize there are such unpaid debts till they are served with notices. This can be easily avoided by accessing the credit report.
3: Get access to bank accounts and track investments: If the deceased had a joint bank account, the other account holder would be able to access its details and any associated investments, standing instructions, etc. However, independent bank accounts belonging to the deceased would only be accessed by legal heirs or nominees after furnishing the death certificate along with identity proof.
The bank would usually close the bank account in the name of the deceased and transfer the money to the bank account of the legal heir. You can also request for bank account statements and also check for any investments that may have been done discretely by the deceased and not disclosed to the family.
4: File for insurance claim: To make a life insurance claim the assigned nominee or any close relative needs to send the claim intimation to the concerned life insurance company. You can also take help of your insurance agent to file for a claim.
Once the insurance company accepts your request, you will be asked to fill up a claim form, submit details of the deceased including death certificate, any medical or police FIR details, post mortem details for accidental death along with the policy documents.
The insurance company will do a background check and once approved the insurance amount would be handed over to the assigned nominee of the policy.
5: Inform all the lenders and cancel all identification cards: After the initial mourning period, it is a good idea to inform all the lenders of the deceased about the death. These may include banks, NBFCs, financial institutions along with any personal creditors like friends or relatives.
Anyone having any pending financial association can them come up with his or her claim and not plead ignorance at a later stage.
The author is CEO, BankBazaar.com