If you are preparing to serve as an executor for a deceased relative, certain estate documents will be important for you, such as the original copy of the will. However, you will also require multiple copies of the death certificate proving that your family member has died.
Without a death certificate, you cannot take over the estate of your relative. Bankrate explains different situations which often require this document.
Access estate assets
As executor, you will take charge of the estate assets so you can distribute them to heirs. However, financial institutions that hold the accounts of your family member will require a copy of the death certificate to give you control. You will also need a copy to file a life insurance claim.
Deal with creditors
After learning of the death of your relative, creditors may file claims against the estate for unpaid debts. Supplying creditors with a copy of the death certificate could be necessary when working with them to resolve unpaid bills and loans.
Send copies to the government
In the event your relative receives government benefits, you will have to provide certificate copies to the relevant agencies to halt further payments. Common examples include the Social Security Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs. This will prevent government overpayments that you will have to pay back from the estate assets.
Filing a final tax return
After the death of your family member, you will be responsible for filing a final tax return on behalf of your relative. In this situation, you will provide a copy of the death certificate to let the IRS know that your loved one has died.
While being an executor involves various responsibilities, having the right documents on hand can help you take care of many of them.