10 Tips for Finding Estate Documents

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It can be difficult to know where to start after someone dies.

We know because we’ve been there.

There are several places you can look to find important estate documents. These help you determine what accounts need to be closed and what agencies need to be notified. A comprehensive list of all the documents you should look for can be found here for those in Canada, and here for those in the U.S.

Here are some tips to help you find the necessary information needed to settle an estate:

  1. Search the deceased’s wallet, filing cabinets and folders. Make sure you check all places of residence.
  2. Check the deceased’s computer files and any cloud-based file storage you are aware of.
  3. Check the mail for any paper bills, statements, policies or subscriptions.
  4. If you have access to the deceased’s banking or credit card accounts, review the last year of statements to look for automatic payments and deposits.
  5. Check the safety deposit box. Usually these are located at the deceased’s bank. It is better to document the contents of the safety deposit box with another person present.
  6. Contact the previous employers to find out about pensions, death benefits and employer-based insurance plans.
  7. If the deceased had a lawyer, insurance broker, accountant or financial advisor, they may have copies of important estate documents and information.
  8. Go to Ombudservice for Life and Health Insurance’s website to search for lost life insurance policies.
  9. Search the Bank of Canada for unclaimed bank accounts.
  10. If you’re unsure of the existence of a will, see this helpful resource.

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