When you are appointed as a personal representative, formally known as the executor, of a deceased person’s probate estate or if you become a trustee of a deceased person’s trust, you will need to deal with the deceased person’s mail. The first thing to do is to talk to the post office and ask them to forward the deceased person’s mail to your address. However, in addition to important mail that people receive, that is, bank statements, bills, refunds and so forth, there are many not-so-important pieces of mail. A lot of it we call junk mail – catalogues, solicitations and other stuff that you may feel obliged to shred or simply throw in your recycling.
Sometimes if you have purchased a home from the estate of a deceased person, you may be receiving their mail at your new address. There are at least four things you can do to help the post office to stop delivering mail addressed to the deceased person.
- If you are a personal representative of an estate that has been closed through a probate, take a certified copy of the order closing the estate and hand-deliver it to the person’s local post office. Then request that all mail service be stopped immediately. If you do not take this step and you continue to receive mail, it may be because the United States Post Office only honors forwarding orders for one year. The only way to completely stop delivery is to request that all mail service be discontinued. Doing so while delivering an order closing the probate should accomplish this.
- Many people receive mail from commercial marketing companies. There is a website you can log in to at www.ims-dm.com. There is a section on the website for what they refer to as a deceased do not contact registration page. According to the website, this list was developed by the direct marketing association to help individuals manage their mail. The advantage to them is it makes their marketing lists more valuable by removing names that are not good prospects for their clients.
- For magazines and other subscriptions as well as charities to whom the deceased may have made donations, contact those organizations directly to inform them of the death. O As personal representative, you should do this early on as many publishers will issue a refund for any of the unused subscription.
- If you shared the mailing address with the deceased person or if you are the new owner of the deceased person’s home, write “Deceased, Return to Sender” on any mail addressed to the deceased person and leave it in your mailbox for pick up.
Remember it is a federal offense to open and read another person’s mail, so if you’re not the personal representative or are not authorized by way of a power of attorney, do not open their mail!