(This article is also available on www.moneycontrol.com –https://www.moneycontrol.com/news/business/personal-finance/list-of-accounts-to-close-on-death-of-a-loved-one-2558577.html)
Priority is given to transfer of financial assets first and then settling other moveable and fixed assets.
It is rare for the people left behind to think or have a check-list to close all important accounts or subscriptions of a deceased member of a family. They are usually caught up performing the many rituals and then have to go through a search mission for documents (soft as well as hard copies plus passwords), apart from the emotional setback. This becomes tedious and a nightmarish task, especially the death of a loved one is sudden.
Priority is given to transfer of financial assets first and then settling other moveable and fixed assets. That’s all! But beyond these there are so many important accounts and subscriptions which may create problems for survivors. There might be unauthorised transactions, unnecessary debits or receive important notices for such accounts on which one might have to incur a financial loss.
Please ensure that the following accounts and subscriptions of the deceased are closed:
1. Credit cards:
A deceased’s wallet may contain credit cards. As a precaution, please check all files and if there are other credit card documents add these to the list. Once you get the number of credit cards and the service provider’s names, please call them (numbers are on back of the card) and request them to block the cards first and then follow up by cancelling the same. This is a simple process where all you need to do is fill up a form and provide the death certificate etc. This task will enable you to claim insurance benefits that accompany a credit card. This is generally not claimed by dependents and sometimes is a fairly large sum. Also, check with service providers about the auto debit amounts attached so that you can block or close these services too.
2. Telephone or mobile connection
Prepare a list of all landline as well as mobile connections in the name of the deceased. Depending on the requirement, you may choose either to surrender or transfer the connection in your name. But before surrendering ensure that the phone number is not linked to any important investment or activity. It would be better to transfer all connections for a few months rather than surrendering the same to avoid missing out on a few important calls. The transfer/surrender process is very simple for each service provider. The steps are listed on the service provider’s website and if needed one can seek help by calling the company toll-free helpline.
For various services we sometimes subscribe by debit or credit card. While paying through credit card, the service provider takes permission for auto renewal after the subscription period is over. This auto debit is very dangerous when we forget to stop the service even if we don’t enjoy the same. Instruct the bank and credit card companies to stop all such auto debits till you close the bank account or credit cards.
It is not advisable to close the email accounts as it might impact financial as well as emotional aspects but at the same time ensure to auto-forward mails to your email. Operate the email account only to view mails so that important information is not missed. Never ever reply on behalf of the deceased as the same might be considered as an offense.
There might be various utilities – electricity, water, gas, internet, cable or various annual maintenance contract on AC or vehicle – in the name of the deceased. These again need to be transferred and if some are not required then they need to be cancelled. Again the process is not so tedious, but the formalities need to be done.
6. Non-transferable memberships
There are various paid memberships which are not transferable like sports club, gym, cultural organisation etc. Such memberships need to be cancelled. Since of these service providers come for last rituals of the deceased there is not much pain while cancelling these memberships.
7. Newspaper and magazine subscriptions
If the newspaper or magazine was there only for deceased when s/he was alive, then close all those subscriptions. Call those vendors and stop such subscriptions. Also revise the requirements and transfer the balance to your name rather than having the account in the name of the deceased as seeing bills in the name of the deceased will be painful.
8. Online accounts
Finally, there are multiple online accounts: social media, shopping, emails, entertainment and so on. In this online world we keep on opening such accounts. Make a list of all such accounts and immediately close these.