Sample Letter: How To Notify Creditors After a Death

writing1228511911

When family members pass away, there is a lot of things to consider and a lot of paperwork to complete. Sadly, in addition to all of the grief that accompanies a death of a loved one, there can also be additional grief that comes from the con artists who take advantage of the situation. As in life, identity theft is a concern in death. A deceased’s Social Security number can still be used as notification of a death may take some time for family members to accomplish.

Until banks, credit card companies, and other business are notified officially that someone has passed away, thieves have the opportunity to take an advantage of a situation they have read about in the local obituaries.

In order to help eliminate the chances of a thief’s handiwork, the family members will need to notify the Social Security Administration about the death. The SSA keeps on file the reported deaths as well as eligible benefits. If deaths are not reported promptly, con artists have good opportunity to open new credit accounts or use the social security number fraudulently for other purposes.

In addition to notification of the Social Security Administration, a deceased’s loved ones should also contain creditors about the death, to prevent not only theft, but issues with bill payments. A letter sent via Certified/Return Receipt US Mail is sufficient and should include the important information about the deceased.

A copy of the deceased’s death certificate will likely be required also. As soon as you get the death certificate, it is a good idea to make several copies to send to various creditors and other relevant businesses on behalf of the deceased.  A sample letter is provided below:

Sample Letter To Notify Creditors of Death

September 19, 2009

Credit Card Company, Inc.
1234 Any Street
Anytown, US 12345

Re: Notification of Death – [Deceased’s Full Name]

Dear [Credit Card Company Name]:

This letter is to request that a formal death notice be added to the credit file of [Deceased Full Name]. Please find the enclosed copy of the deceased’s death certificate. I have also enclosed a copy of the legal document that proves my authority as the deceased’s executor (or surviving spouse if applicable).

Deceased’s Full Name:
Address:
Social Security Number:
Date of Birth:
Account Number:
(if applicable)

Please contact me by phone at ###-###-#### or email XXX@xxxxx.com about any questions regarding this account.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

  • Terek

    If the deceased did not make anyone executor because she did not have a will, how do you still proceed? In this case, she has an adult child, but how does he prove that with what type of legal document?

    Thanks,

    • TRIKKIA KEEL

      the response depends on the State jurisdiction in which you live. In California, you would have to go to court and open a probate alleging the person died intestate (without a will or trust). Once the probate is opened and after the court appoints an estate representative, each creditor is invited to file with the court a creditor’s claim. The representative of the estate may reject a claim or pay the claim. If the estate is less than $100,000 in value you may do this by a declaration for an estate of small value. If the decedent did not have an estate of any value, a letter to the creditor with a copy of the decedent’s death certificate should suffice. A death certificate may be obtained from the health department, funeral home or county recorder’s office in which the decedent resided (it varies from state to state as to the agency issuing death certificates). In either scenario, the person assuming responsibility to notify the creditor is not personally liable for payment of the decedent’s death. The benefit of a court supervised probate is that the court validates the actions of the personal rerpesentative of the decedent’s estate

  • TRIKKIA KEEL

    NOTE ERROR: The sentence referring to liability for payment of decedent’s death should be corrected to read “not personally liaible for payment of the decedent’s debts”.

  • David Phelps

    Thank you
    I found this most helpful.

  • Jeannette

    Every template for these letters to (unsecured) creditors did NOT include birthdate and SSN. So I did not include that information. Now one of the creditors cannot find information on the account(s) despite a VERY unique name and they are asking for birthdate and SSN. They also did not include information about who is collecting the debt, just a handwritten (very sloppy) note with my letter to creditor enclosed.

    In TX, do I have to respond, or is it there responsibility to figure out the account based on the information I gave them to start with (including the probate case #)?

  • Amber

    I’m wondering if you could provide a template of a letter for when there is no estate. Do I simply state that there is no estate to collect funds from and to stop all further sending of letters to the address noted?

    Thanks!

  • bob johnson

    my father in law died 2 weeks ago. has had an American Express card for over 20 years in his name only. Wife was authorized user. Received a letter form American Express telling us they were NOTIFIED by Social Security of his death and they cancelled his card and demanded payment in full from his wife. how would SS know about his credit accounts? does she need to pay his bill?