Losing a loved one is a deeply painful process.  While the grief is fresh, many parts of everyday life are put on the back burner.  Unfortunately, after a loved one passes away it eventually becomes clear that there a myriad of details, both large and small, that must be handled.  Often these are details that do not occur to most of us until we actually come face to face with them.

One detail that arises is how to handle the mail addressed to your deceased loved one. The mail does not stop simply because your loved one has passed away.  Not all companies or individuals sending the mail will have been notified that the individual to whom the mail is addressed is no longer alive.  This is especially true when it comes to the realm of advertising or junk mail.

So, what should your next steps be if you have recently lost a loved one and are now looking at pieces of mail addressed to him or her?  Some might find it comforting to read their loved one’s name on an envelope, while others find it extremely difficult and emotionally wrenching.

Process to Follow if the Estate has been Closed

If the estate has been closed you should send a copy of the order that closed the estate to the local post office that deals with the deceased’s mail.  This can only occur after the probate process has been completed and the estate has been closed officially.  Then you can request that all mail service in the deceased’s name be stopped immediately.  Remember, though, that the only individual with the authority to make this request is the executor of the estate.

Requesting that the deceased’s mail be redirected elsewhere, perhaps to the home of the executor, can be done by a family member.  However, this will only remain valid for the period of one year.  After that, if the request to completely stop the mail has not been made, you will once again be dealing with receiving your deceased loved one’s mail.  You may choose to open the mail yourself and forward any information to the appropriate individuals.

When all else fails, if the estate has been closed you may decide to simply throw any unwanted mail away or mail it back to the sender.  However, it is important that you do not do this while the estate is still open.

Process to Follow if the Estate is Still Open

You definitely do not have to deal with the issue of junk mail being received in the deceased’s name.  Contact the Direct Marketing Association through their website.  There you can enter the deceased’s name on the DDNC, or Deceased Do Not Contact List.  There is no charge for this service and the amount of advertising or junk mail should taper off within three months of registering on the site.

While the estate is still open, you will want to forward and pass on any important mail to the executor so that he or she can deal with the contents.  Actually, you should no longer receive any bills or statements regarding the deceased’s outstanding financial obligations.  All debts owed by the deceased are dealt with through the probate court by the individual named as the executor of the estate. The executor, whoever he or she is, is responsible for contacting any creditors to whom the deceased owed money. In contacting the creditors, the executor informs them that they should submit any final bills with amounts owed for payment.

It is important that you understand that you are not responsible for paying any debts owed by the deceased.  Do not let any creditors strong-arm you into paying any money they feel they are owed. This is the executor’s responsibility, so pass off any of these calls or letters to the executor for him or her to deal with.