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Grief and Loss
Final Details: Necessary Papers
Before you can file for various benefits and take care of other financial matters, you will
need to collect a variety of documents:
Death certificate. Available from your funeral director or county health department.
Purchase at least a dozen certified copies of the death certificate. Most companies will want a
certified copy, but use a photocopy when you can to save money.
Marriage certificate. Available from the county clerk where the marriage license was
Birth certificates. For the deceased and any dependent children. Available at either the
state or county public records offices where the person was born.
Social Security numbers. For the deceased, spouse, and dependent children.
Discharge papers. If the deceased was a veteran, you will need a copy of the discharge
certificate. If you cannot find a copy, contact National Personnel Records Center, 9700 Page
Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63132-5200 (Send it to the attention of the branch in which the
Original Will. The lawyer who wrote the will may have it. Or, it may be with the
personal belongings of the deceased or in a safe deposit box. Some banks have special
procedures before letting anyone into the safe deposit box.
List of property. A complete list of what the deceased owned including real estate,
stocks, bonds, bank accounts, deeds, and personal property.
Recent income tax returns. If you cannot locate a copy of the most recent income tax
return, you need to fill out IRS Form 4506. You will need to attach documentation that you
are authorized to act on behalf of the deceased, such as let