It’s A Matter of Life and Death: End-of-Life Identity Protection Tips

End-of-life planning doesn’t begin and end with purchasing life insurance. To ensure that your family isn’t victimized by identity theft after you or a loved one dies, experts recommend that everyone take the following the precautions:

1. Use your power. As executor of your loved one’s estate, you can notify the three major credit bureaus that the person is deceased, get copies of their credit files, and ask that the credit reports be shut down. All it requires is proof that you are the executor and a certified copy of the death notice. This will prevent anyone from using the decedent’s name to obtain credit. Quickly familiarize yourself with a schedule of the deceased’s accounts so you can protect the estate.

2. Suppress the deceased’s credit file. Have on hand a certified copy of the death notice and proof you are the executor when notifying the three major credit bureaus. Make sure the surviving spouse can continue to have access to credit and bank accounts.

3. Secure documents. Make sure identity documents are secure. Keep your birth certificate, passport and the like in a bank safe deposit box. Keep all important records in a locked file cabinet, and make sure that your spouse or someone else you trust has a spare key. These basic precautions will help protect you while you’re living, and protect your family’s financial well-being after you’ve passed away.

4. Store a legal will in a safe, locked location in your home, in a safe-deposit box, and on file with an attorney. Alert heirs as to where and how to access the will.

5. Secure relatives’ personal information before illness or diminished capacity occurs. Mentally impaired relatives should not have unchecked access to their own information.

6. Beware of scam artists who may attempt identity theft years after the estate has been dispersed.