Initial Actions If You have Lost a Family Member from COVID-19
Dear Clients, Colleagues and Friends,
All New Yorkers have been impacted by COVID-19 but some of us have suffered the ultimate loss. If you or someone you know has lost a loved one, we recommend you consider the following five suggestions:
1) Make sure you request multiple certified copies of their death certificates from the funeral director. You will need to provide copies to banks, insurance companies and other institutions. Without a death certificate, it is almost impossible to get information about your loved one's property or to get access to their assets. In New York City, additional copies of death certificates can be ordered online at VitalCheck or by mailing in a copy of the certificate application.
2) Check to see if your loved one died with an active insurance policy. The New York State Department of Financial Services has a free-of-charge search service to assist families in locating unclaimed benefits on life insurance policies. Visit Lost Policy Finder for more information. Life insurance policies sometimes have a beneficiary listed. If so, the beneficiary will need a copy of the death certificate to request the money.
3) Look for a will or trust. Some people store their important documents ina safe at home or a safe deposit box at their bank, so check their home and bank. You can also check the Surrogate's Court in the county where your loved one lived to see if they filed their will there.
4) Find out if there are any benefits available to a loved one's survivors. Contact Social Security and Workers Compensation and/or your loved one's employer to see if benefits are available to surviving spouses or other family members.
5) Get the help of a trusted and experienced attorney to file an estate proceeding. Often, a petition must be filed with the Surrogate's Court in the county where the deceased person resided to be able to collect and distribute their property.
Feel free to contact Moira E. Casey of French & Casey LLP if you need any assistance in these matters.