Who Is Responsible vs. Who Has Authority?
As with everything else, when a loved one has passed, the responsibility of who has to check the mail goes under the radar. Instead, most opt to think that it’s simply okay to just access the decedent’s mail until further notice. Even if it sounds okay, the question you have to ask yourself is, “is this legal?”
Like online accounts for the decedent, just because you have the login information doesn’t mean you have the existing authority to access the account. Even with a Durable/Financial Power of Attorney, your power to act ceases the day your loved one passed away. The same applies to receiving and accessing postal mail.
What Is The Process?
To properly address the mail, you should contact the Post Master at the local Post Office (within the area of residence) and notify them of the date of passing and ask that all of the decedent’s mail be held there until someone has been appointed as an authorized representative of their estate, by the court. Upon receiving the proper court forms, the authorized representative will be in touch with the Post Master to issue a mail forwarding address and issue payment towards any costs associated with the change of address. Find out if there’s a timeline for how long they can hold the mail for and let your attorney know. By letting your attorney know, you’re allowing your attorney to know how fast to act and why.
How To Avoid a Mess After You Have Passed Away
To avoid the hassle of having to determine who should be receiving your mail after you’re gone, you’ll want to discuss with your attorney about having someone appointed to take care of your estate – the same person who would also be responsible for your mail. The responsibility of tying up loose ends goes on for much longer after you’re gone, so it’s important to plan ahead. Beyond the grief of losing someone, everyone will be seeking direction.
NC Planning boasts a team of attorneys who are well-versed in estate planning and equipped with the proper network and tools to help drive your estate planning towards success. We encourage you to schedule a time with one of our attorneys, to discuss your estate plan and what you can do for your family to allow them the luxury of grief and clarity.