Collect final wages and additional compensation

Immediately After a Death

If the deceased was working at the time of death, contact their employer to collect any outstanding money owed.

This may include items such as:

  • Final wages
  • Vacation time
  • Sick time

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant It's vital that records of any money owed to the deceased be documented because it may have implications while Settling the Estate during probate. It's best to use a spreadsheet to keep track of outstanding items as well as any transactions.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about collecting credits during Probate, see the "Inventory estate assets and debts" Chapter of the Guide.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More And for more information about what to request from a deceased's employer, see the "Notify the deceased's employer" Task.

Personal Considerations


Was the deceased working at the time of their death?


Notify the employer of the death and request payment for any wages owed to the deceased, including paid time off and vacation.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant Make sure to document any money owed to the deceased because the Executor of the Estate is subject to tax and legal penalties.

Additionally, it's important to be aware that:

  • Any money owed to a deceased person is property of the Estate, not them personally
  • Therefore, the employer should deposit wages into the Estate Bank Account or provide a physical check
  • If the employer incorrectly deposits final wages into the deceased's personal bank account, those wages should be transferred to the estate account when that account is liquidated during probate
  • If the deceased's bank account was set up as Transfer-upon-Death (TOD) to a beneficiary, wait to deposit the check until an estate account is opened and then deposit it there

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about setting up an estate bank account and managing probate, see the "Organize Estate Assets and Debts" section of the Guide.

AutumnIcons_Providers.svgProviders Managing a deceased person's assets can be challenging, so it may be best to ask a Probate Attorney or Certified Public Accountant for help. Find them at the links below.


The deceased's previous employer may still have important documents for you to review, such as retirement or pension benefits.

Look through the deceased's work-related documents to determine the types and locations of these accounts and then contact the plans' administrators.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know If you cannot find any relevant paperwork, contact the deceased's former employer. When reaching out, ask about available Death Benefits, and if applicable, ask them to stop any on-going unemployment payments.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about locating benefits, see the "Review additional death benefits and pensions" section of the Guide.


If the deceased was working at the time of their death:

Notify the employer of the death and request payment for any wages owed to the deceased, including paid time off and vacation.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant Make sure to document any money owed to the deceased because the Executor of the Estate is subject to tax and legal penalties.

Additionally, it's important to be aware that:

  • Any money owed to a deceased person is property of the Estate, not them personally
  • Therefore, the employer should deposit wages into the Estate Bank Account or provide a physical check
  • If the employer incorrectly deposits final wages into the deceased's personal bank account, those wages should be transferred to the estate account when that account is liquidated during probate
  • If the deceased's bank account was set up as Transfer-upon-Death (TOD) to a beneficiary, wait to deposit the check until an estate account is opened and then deposit it there

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about setting up an estate bank account and managing probate, see the "Organize Estate Assets and Debts" section of the Guide.

AutumnIcons_Providers.svgProviders Managing a deceased person's assets can be challenging, so it may be best to ask a Probate Attorney or Certified Public Accountant for help. Find them at the links below.

If the deceased was not working at the time of their death:

The deceased's previous employer may still have important documents for you to review, such as retirement or pension benefits.

Look through the deceased's work-related documents to determine the types and locations of these accounts and then contact the plans' administrators.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know If you cannot find any relevant paperwork, contact the deceased's former employer. When reaching out, ask about available Death Benefits, and if applicable, ask them to stop any on-going unemployment payments.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about locating benefits, see the "Review additional death benefits and pensions" section of the Guide.


Did the deceased have a retirement or pension plan?


Contact the company who manages the plan and notify them of the death.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know If you cannot find their contact information, or any of the deceased's paperwork, speak with the employer. If the account was issued from the employer, then the company's human resources department may be able to provide more information.

Much like life insurance policies, or Transfer-on-Death (TOD) deeds, retirement plans will automatically transfer to a Beneficiary after a death if it had been set up as such.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant Not all Pension plans automatically transfer benefits to a Surviving Family. Make sure to speak with the plan provider, or the deceased's employer, to determine the best path forward.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about distributing the deceased's assets to beneficiaries, see the "Handle the estate's assets" section of the Guide.


It's in the Surviving Family's best interest to confirm that no active, but unknown, plans are in place.

Search the deceased's property and any important files stored in and outside the home, like a safe or Safe Deposit Box.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know Contact bankers, financial advisors, Estate Attorneys, other service professionals, and previous employers who might have helped the deceased obtain a plan.


If the deceased had a retirement or pension plan:

Contact the company who manages the plan and notify them of the death.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know If you cannot find their contact information, or any of the deceased's paperwork, speak with the employer. If the account was issued from the employer, then the company's human resources department may be able to provide more information.

Much like life insurance policies, or Transfer-on-Death (TOD) deeds, retirement plans will automatically transfer to a Beneficiary after a death if it had been set up as such.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant Not all Pension plans automatically transfer benefits to a Surviving Family. Make sure to speak with the plan provider, or the deceased's employer, to determine the best path forward.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information about distributing the deceased's assets to beneficiaries, see the "Handle the estate's assets" section of the Guide.

If the deceased did not have a retirement or pension plan:

It's in the Surviving Family's best interest to confirm that no active, but unknown, plans are in place.

Search the deceased's property and any important files stored in and outside the home, like a safe or Safe Deposit Box.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know Contact bankers, financial advisors, Estate Attorneys, other service professionals, and previous employers who might have helped the deceased obtain a plan.

Providers to Contact


Probate Attorneys Near You

Probate Attorneys can help you identify and apply for wages or benefits owed to the deceased. They help settle a deceased person’s estate.

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Certified Public Accountants Near You

An Accountant can help ensure that any wages received from the deceased's employer are handled properly. They specialize in financial record keeping and reporting. They can help you organize the finances of a deceased person's estate and ensure that all financial paperwork is in order for when they file taxes.

No results in your area.


Immediately After a Death