When a loved one passes away, family members often don't worry about their credit report. However, if you're the executor of an estate, among your many responsibilities is notifying the three major credit bureaus of that person's death.
When notified of a death, the credit bureaus -- Experion, Equifax and TransUnion -- will place a death notice on the person's credit reports and seal them. This can help prevent credit fraud by someone illegally using your loved one's information.
You can deal with the credit bureaus as you go about closing your loved one's accounts, including their credit cards, and notifying lenders of the death. However, it's important to ask the credit bureaus for a copy of the credit report and review it to make sure that you've closed all open accounts and loans listed on it (assuming they aren't jointly held with someone who's still alive) -- even if they don't have a balance.
The credit bureaus will require you to provide information about the deceased person, such as their legal name, birth date and Social Security number, as well as proof that they've passed away (such as a copy of the death certificate).
It's essential to contact each bureau separately to find out what information and documentation each one needs, as it may vary. Make copies of any documentation you send them, and be sure that you send it using certified mail or some other means of tracking it.
When you receive your loved one's credit reports, if there are accounts or loans listed that you have questions or concerns about, your estate planning attorney can help you. It's a good idea to watch your loved one's mail and email accounts for a time after their death so that you can catch any suspicious notifications or activity. Sadly, there are a lot of unscrupulous people out there who take advantage of people's deaths and of the loved ones they've left behind.