Losing a loved one

The last thing anyone wants to prepare for is the loss of a loved one. But there are important decisions to make, and planning ahead can help make this time a little less stressful.

Gather important financial documents

  • Will and any statements of intent for executors, trustees and guardians
  • Death certificate
  • Insurance, bank, investment and retirement account statements
  • Tax documents (state and local where applicable, as well as federal)
  • Property deeds, contracts, leases and agreements

Notify institutions responsible for payments and assets

  • Banks and trust companies
  • Life insurance and annuity providers
  • Stockbrokers and investment custodians
  • Retirement plans, pension administrators and IRA trustees
  • Social Security Administration, Railroad Retirement Board and Federal Employees Retirement System
  • Department of Veterans Affairs

If the funeral was not preplanned, set a budget for it now

  • Decide how much you want to spend, keeping in mind that you are making this decision on behalf of your loved one’s estate.
  • Understand what other resources may be immediately available from death benefits, family and friends.
  • Determine when and where the funeral and burial should take place.

Consider the executor

  • If you can determine who the executor is, consult with him or her as soon as possible about settling debts (including funeral-related expenses) and addressing the legal and tax alternatives for settling the estate.
  • If there is no will or you cannot determine who the executor might be, you should consult with an attorney about how your state’s laws might apply to your situation before taking any action.
Close Disclaimer
The material provided on this website is for informational use only and is not intended for financial or investment advice. Bank of America and/or its affiliates, and Khan Academy, assume no liability for any loss or damage resulting from one’s reliance on the material provided. Please also note that such material is not updated regularly and that some of the information may not therefore be current. Consult with your own financial professional when making decisions regarding your financial or investment options.

Up Next

Contact Us

  • 866.736.2205 Mon-Fri 8 a.m. to midnight Eastern
    Sat 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Eastern, Sun 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Eastern
  • Schedule an appointment

Merrill Edge® is available through Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (MLPF&S), and consists of the Merrill Edge Advisory Center (investment guidance) and self-directed online investing.

Banking products are provided by Bank of America, N.A., and affiliated banks, Members FDIC and wholly owned subsidiaries of Bank of America Corporation.

Investment products:

Are Not

FDIC Insured 

Are Not

Bank Guaranteed

May Lose Value


MLPF&S is a registered broker-dealer, Member SIPC and a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation.