Learn the Basics

In this section you’ll learn exactly which tasks are the most urgent and how to avoid common mistakes that could cost you time and money.

Should I Hire an Attorney?

Depending on the complexity of your estate, you may be able to save a lot on legal fees.

Our friends at Full Circle are offering a free service to help you see if an attorney is needed or if you can skip this step and save money

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Getting Started Tips

Use our FAQ list to familiarize yourself with common terms
  • What is an executor?

    The executor is granted the legal authority to oversee and manage an estate. They’re responsible for such things as locating the original will and filing it with the court, managing and distributing assets, clearing debts, filing tax returns, notifying those whom the will names, and responding to legal challenges.
  • Do I Need an Attorney?

    It really depends on the complexity of your estate. In some cases you may be able to save a lot on legal fees.

    Our friends at Full Circle are offering a free service to help you see if an attorney is needed or if you can skip this step and save money.
  • What is Probate?

    Probate is the legal process used to administer an estate. If a last will exists, the probate court will review it and divide and distribute assets accordingly after all outstanding debts and taxes have been paid. In cases without a last will, assets will be divided and distributed based on state law.
  • What is a Living Trust?

    A living trust is a legal document that allows you to manage your estate while you’re still alive. You name beneficiaries and manage your assets and how they will be eventually distributed, thereby eliminating the costs and complexities of probate.
  • What Is a Testamentary for an Estate?

    A letter of testamentary grants the executor the legal authority to manage the decedent’s assets. Issued by a probate court, it is one of the necessary documents you’ll need, along with the death certificate, to act as executor.
Get a notebook or note taking device to keep a record of conversations and documents

Full Circle Tip: When you notify organizations, be sure to include the full name of the person you spoke to, their job title, and their employer ID or extension number.

Inventory any assets or expenses related to the decedent

Below are some examples:

  • Real Estate Property:
    Deeds
    Leases
    Tax Information
  • Personal Items:
    Vehicles
    Furniture
    Personal Contents
  • Expenses:
    Bills
    Expenses
    Mortgages
    Utilities
  • Other Assets:
    Stocks
    Bonds
    Bank Accounts
    IRA's
    Pensions
    Life Insurance

Full Circle Tip: A credit report can help uncover many assets and expenses. If you’d like help pulling a report and making sense of it, schedule a free consultation with Full Circle.

Create a plan to tend to your grief while completing needed tasks

Essential Documents & Tasks

Securing these documents and completing these essential tasks will help you be better prepared.

Determine who will be the executor of the estate and obtain a letter of testamentary

Yes, there is a will

The executor, usually named in the will, is responsible for managing the estate. To get started, you’ll need to obtain a letter of testamentary. (This grants you the legal authority to manage the decedent’s assets.) File the will and death certificate with the probate court, along with any necessary forms they require. You may be required to provide information about the value of the estate and the date of death.

No, there wasn’t a will

Even when there is not a will, the estate’s assets still need to be distributed. The probate court will designate an administrator, usually the next of kin in most states, who will fill the role of executor and act on the estate’s behalf.

I’m not sure

Double check desk drawers, safety deposit boxes, or wherever important documents were kept. If there is no will and probate is necessary, the probate court judge will appoint an administrator, who in most states is usually the next of kin.

Locate as many of the documents listed below as possible

Will (if applicable)
Trust documents (if applicable)
Birth certificate
Death certificate
Driver’s License or State Identification

Full Circle Tip: Before acting on your loved one’s behalf, you’ll generally be asked to produce proof of your legal authority to do so. Finding these documents now will save you a lot of time when applying for benefits or notifying banks or government entities.

Make copies of dated obituaries or newspaper articles to serve as further proof of a death

Full Circle Tip: A death certificate is usually all that’s required to serve as proof of death, but it’s a good practice to make copies of other public notices in case more proof is needed.

Identity & Fraud Protection

Over 2.5 million deceased Americans have their identity stolen each year. Follow these steps to help reduce your risk.

Notify a credit bureau to ensure no one can apply for credit in your loved one’s name
Forward a copy of the death certificate to one of the three credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian or Equifax). Also include the following:
Will (if applicable)
Trust documents (if applicable)
Birth certificate
Death certificate
Driver’s License or State Identification
  • For spouses also include:
    Your Name
    Mailing Address
    Copy of your ID
  • For executor include:
    Copy of:
    Will
    or
    Executor Agreement
    or
    Power of Attorney
The credit agency you notify will automatically notify the other two.
Mail information to TransUnion
TransUnion
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
Locate as many of the documents listed below as possible
Will (if applicable)
Trust documents (if applicable)
Birth certificate
Death certificate
Driver’s License or State Identification

Full Circle Tip: Before acting on your loved one’s behalf, you’ll generally be asked to produce proof of your legal authority to do so. Finding these documents now will save you a lot of time when applying for benefits or notifying banks or government entities.

Update the National Deceased Registry to stop junk mail in the deceased’s name
  • Register with the DDNC to make sure the person’s name, address, phone number, and email address is placed in a special do-not-contact file.
  • Register by completing the form at DMAchoice.org.
Avoid unwanted solicitation by registering the survivor’s phone number on the Do Not Call list
  • To register by telephone, call 1-888-382-1222. You must call from the phone number that you want to register. To register online, visit donotcall.gov. You will then be prompted to respond to a confirmation email.
Change any shared passwords that you think are vulnerable

Full Circle Tip: You can use your loved one’s email to recover any passwords you may not have access to.

Accounts, Memberships, & Subscriptions

Cancel unused memberships & take care of your loved one’s digital footprint.

Memorialize social media accounts to prevent malicious strangers from making hurtful or embarrassing posts.

Social Media Account Instructions

If you don't have access to your loved one's account, you can make a request by completing Facebook's Special Request for Medically Incapacitated or Deceased Person's Account form.

If you have access to your loved one's account, follow these steps:

Click in the top right of Facebook.
Select Settings & Privacy, then click Settings.
Click Your Facebook Information in the left column.
Click Deactivation and Deletion.
Choose Deactivate Account, then click Continue to Account Deactivation and follow the instructions to confirm.
Click here for more details.

If you don't have access to your loved one's account, you can make a request to Twitter here.

If you have access to your loved one's account, follow these steps:

Go to your Account settings by clicking on the More icon in the navigation bar and selecting Settings and privacy from the menu.
Under the Account section, click Your Twitter data.
Enter your password under Download your Twitter data, then click Confirm.
Click the Request data button. If your Twitter account is connected to Periscope, you'll have the option to Request data from Periscope as well.
When your download is ready, you'll receive an email to your connected email account. From your settings, you can click the Download data button under the Download data section.
Once you receive the email, click the Download button while logged in to your Twitter account and download a .zip file of your Twitter archive.
Click here for the official Twitter page on closing an account.
To request an account to be memorialized, click this Request to Memorialize an Instagram Account form. They will require some form proof of death, such as a link to an obituary or news article, to memorialize an account.
Please keep in mind that we can't provide login information for a memorialized account. It's always against our policies for someone to log into another person's account.

To close a LinkedIn account, you'll need to complete the Profile Removal form. Upon completion, it will be automatically sent to LinkedIn for review.

You'll need the following to complete the form:

The user's name
The URL to their LinkedIn profile
The user's email address
Date of their passing
Link to an obituary
Their most recent company of employment
Cancel or update any subscriptions, memberships, & online accounts you no longer plan on using

Full Circle Tip: Your loved one’s email is a great way to track down any subscriptions or memberships you might have missed. It can also help you recover or change passwords for accounts you need to access.

Feeling Overwhelmed?
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