Dealing with your father’s demise is emotionally exhausting. However, these steps can help you deal with your financial issues and distress.

 X steps I took when my father passed away

As the oldest daughter and daddy’s little girl, dealing with my father’s passing wasn’t easy. But even during this extremely difficult time, I had to set my emotions aside and address a series of issues that needed immediate attention. Mostly, they were financial affairs. I wanted to take some weight off my mother’s shoulders and hence took on full responsibility for the tasks. 

It was only when I began that I realised how overwhelming a chore it was. At every juncture, I was stumped and it felt as if I was making my way through a never-ending maze. Questions loomed before me. How do I begin? Where did my dad keep his important papers? Did he make a will? Who is his nominee? These and many other doubts needed further investigation. 

Anyone can find themselves in such a situation without warning, and I’m here to help. Here are the tasks I undertook right away: 

1. Get photocopies of the death certificate: It is crucial to get the death certificate and make several photocopies of it. This document is needed by all financial institutions before they can transfer assets or investments, close accounts, or allow you to sell the assets of the deceased. Get them attested if required.

2. Obtain the will: Only recently did I realise the importance of a will and spoke of its significance to my dad. On my insistence, he made one. A will helps sort out all kinds of issues, especially financial matters. A typical will is meant to state facts such as how assets should be distributed, who they should go to, and who should carry out the distribution. This minimises family disputes. Nominee details can be mentioned in the will, which then eases the process of transferring accounts, assets, etc. 

3. Locate all financial documents: If the documents haven’t been filed systematically, you will need to hunt for them. Searching for papers can be time-consuming. More than organising the papers, collecting and collating them are more tedious. Some documents to look out for are: bank passbooks, insurance documents, investment certificates, utility bills, club memberships, loan and EMI papers, property documents, tax papers, etc. 

4. Pay liabilities and dues immediately: Tax, credit card payment, loans, EMIs, etc. are some expenses that need to be settled on an immediate basis. 

5. Notify all relevant institutions: Investment companies, banks, insurance companies, the tax department, etc. need intimation of a customer’s death. This is an important step; only after this is it possible to close the relevant accounts, change the accounts to a nominee’s name, or have the name changed on the documents. Remember: before attempting any of these things you will need to find the documents and carry them with you to complete the formalities. 

6. Close or transfer accounts: You will need to close or transfer bank accounts, loan accounts, life/health insurance policies, change the name in utility bills, transfer investments, etc. Each institution has its own terms, required documents, etc., so acquaint yourself with the process before you go ahead. 

7. File tax returns on behalf of your deceased parent: Although it may seem insignificant, it’s important and needs to be done. The tax returns must be filed by a member of the family till the date the deceased person was alive. There are certain documents needed to file tax returns in this case, such as death certificate, PAN card etc. Once the filing has been done, you need to physically cancel the PAN card. 

8. Dealing with insurance - With insurance applicable on most purchases like automobile, property and even life, the ways to handle it are important.  Typically for auto insurance, you can either continue on with the same policy until the date of renewal or cancel the policy. The choice is yours. With  life insurance, if you want to claim the amount then here are the steps you need to follow: 

  • Locate the copy of the insurance policy 
  • Confirm who the beneficiary of the policy is 
  • Contact the appropriate department of the insurance company
  • Follow the specific procedure that the company has to prove your father's death as well as your relationship to him 
  • Gather the necessary documents 
  • Fill out necessary forms and hand them over to the company 
  • Wait for your money, most often, it takes about 30 days to get your money

These then are the important steps to take when a parent passes away. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be for you to get through this trying time.