When a relative dies, it is hard to know what to do next. Two tasks that survivors should prioritize after the funeral are reporting the death to the major credit bureaus and to Social Security.
Why reporting a death is important
Reporting a relative’s death is important to reduce the chances of identity theft and related problems. Once a record shows that someone is deceased, people who try to apply for credit with the deceased’s information cannot be approved if an entity performs a credit check. As relatives go through a deceased loved one’s estate planning documents, they often find the information they need to report the death.
Reporting a loved one’s death to Social Security
Someone must contact the Social Security Administration to report the death. For those who work with a funeral home to handle arrangements, the funeral director usually contacts Social Security to report the death. The agency will update its records and will not reuse the deceased’s number in the future.
Reporting a loved one’s death to credit bureaus
After a loved one dies, survivors should report the death to the three credit bureaus: This can be done by mail or online. The person reporting the death will need to provide a copy of the death certificate. If the person reporting the death is not a surviving spouse, it is also important to show proof that the individual has the legal right to act on the deceased’s behalf. Once a credit bureau receives proof of the death, the records can be updated to show the person is deceased.
Any accounts on a deceased individual’s credit report remain there for seven years after the death occurs. At that point, the deceased’s record no longer exists.