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Handling the decedent’s final affairs.

When a family member passes away, there are some important papers and information that must be gathered. The smart way to address the issue is to gather the papers beforehand and have assistance from an estate planning attorney, according to The Balance in “Important Papers to Locate After Someone Dies“.

Asset Information:

  • Account statements, including bank accounts, investments and retirement accounts.
  • Life insurance policies. You may be required to show the original documents.
  • Beneficiary designations. This could include payable on death accounts and transfer on death accounts.
  • Real estate deeds
  • Titles for cars and boats
  • Stock and bond certificates–if held in certificate forms.

Business Documents:

  • Corporate, LLC or partnership documents
  • Account statements
  • Contracts
  • Business licenses
  • Income tax returns


  • Pre- or post-nuptial agreements and amendments, if any
  • Loans
  • Leases


  • Utilities, cell phone, credit card, storage unit bills
  • Property tax and mortgage bills
  • Lines of credit or any outstanding loans
  • Medical bills
  • Funeral bills

Estate Planning Documents:

  • Last will and testament, plus codicil(s), if any
  • Revocable living trust and amendment(s), if any
  • Irrevocable Trust and amendments, if any

Tax Returns

  • Income tax returns – federal and state for the last three years
  • Gift tax returns -federal and state

Death Certificates –

  • You’ll need to order several from the funeral home

In addition to these documents, locate the decedent’s Social Security card and Medicare and/or Medicaid information.

Reference: The Balance (Jan. 1, 2019) “Important Papers to Locate After Someone Dies

For more information on asset preservation and estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Mr. Amoruso concentrates his practice on Elder Law, Comprehensive Estate Planning, Asset Preservation, Estate Administration and Guardianship.