It is appropriate for California estate planners and probate attorneys to think beyond offering mere tax advice and probate advice to the family of a deceased client.
There have always been a number of planning tools and techniques to aid in pre-and post mortem planning, I suggest probate lawyers in Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, Orange County and through-out California think about a step that should now be taken in estate administration which may never have been previously considered.
The client’s family should:
Cancel all credit cards and charge accounts as soon as possible after a death.
Once death certificates have been obtained, copies should be sent to Equifax, Experian and TransUnion; the three credit-reporting bureaus with a notice stating that activity under the decedent’s social security number should immediately be reported.
Hire an off-duty policeman to watch the decedent’s house while the family is at the funeral, if the obituary contains the decedent’s address.
Take precautions against a new form of identity theft if the decedent’s month and date of birth are in the obituary.
The California DMV should be asked to cancel the decedent’s driver’s license and refuse any requests for duplicates.
All this can usually be done before appointment of an executor or administrator.
Identity thieves can obtain the name, address and birth date of decedents from an obituary. Then, on the internet for just $15, they can purchase the decedent’s Social Security number and even credit history.
This information can then be sold, with a fake driver’s license or ID, to those with bad credit risks or people with other dishonest motives. The thieves can then make large consumer purchases (such as an automobile) and open credit accounts in the decedent’s name.
Once letters testamentary have been obtained, free credit reports can be obtained from each credit bureau at www.annualcreditreport.com to be sure that there has been no post-death activity.