Notify the deceased's employer

Immediately After a Death

If the deceased was working at the time of their passing, notify their employer about the death.

There are many processes and documents, including potential unpaid wages, that a human resources professional may need to provide.

Examples include:

  • Final paychecks or vacation payout
  • Insurance policy benefits
  • Employee Death Benefits
  • Retirement or Pensions plans and accounts
  • Additional personal documents left with the employer

Helpful Tips


The most important documents for a Surviving Family and Executor of the Estate to manage are those related to the deceased person's tax return.

Because the deceased and their Estate are separate entities, both will need to file taxes separately, as each has their own tax obligation.

Therefore, reach out to the employer and ask for the deceased's final wage documents.

Typically, this is either an IRS Form W-2, the “Wage and Tax Statement," or the 1099-NEC tax form, which helps independent contractors report income earned.

Other documents may include:

  • Form W3, summarizing the information on Form W2
  • Form 1095-B, showing employee health insurance information (if they had employer-sponsored health insurance)
  • Form 1094-B, summarizing the information on Form 1095-B (if they had employer-sponsored health insurance)
  • Form 1095-C, showing health coverage information (if they had employer-sponsored health insurance)
  • Form 1094-C, summarizing information on Form 1095-C (if they had employer-sponsored health insurance)

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant Tax documents may not be produced for some time, depending on when the deceased passed relative to federal and state tax deadlines. Coordinate with the employer to ensure they have the right mailing address when the time comes.

Employer human resource and accounting departments typically manage tax documents in December or January, so make a note to contact them again during this time.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information on how to manage a deceased person's taxes, see the "Submit tax returns for the deceased" section of the Guide.

Personal Considerations


Was the deceased working at the time of their death?


Contact their employer or any other important business associates and notify them about the death.

Make arrangements to collect any belongings the deceased had stored at their place of work.

Speak with their supervisor, or an HR representative, to discuss items including, but not limited to:

  • Insurance policies, retirement, or pension plans the deceased may have had through their employer that may have benefits available
  • Additional employee death benefits the surviving family or beneficiaries may be eligible for
  • Final paychecks or vacation wages still owed to the deceased
  • Additional personal documents which may be stored with the employer

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant Make sure that the records of any final money owed to the deceased be meticulously managed because it may have implications while settling the estate during Probate.

Mismanaged money can have both tax and legal implications for the Executor of the Estate, so it's important to be aware that:

  • Any money owed to a deceased person is property of their Estate, not themselves
  • Therefore, the employer should provide final payment as a physical check so that it can be easily deposited into the Estate Bank Account
  • If the employer deposits final wages into the deceased's bank account, it must be transferred to the estate account when their account is liquidated during probate
  • However, if the deceased's bank account was set 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 "Settle the Estate" section of the Guide.

AutumnIcons_Providers.svgProviders Managing a deceased person's Assets can be complicated, so it may be best to contact a Certified Public Accountant or Estate Attorney 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:

Contact their employer or any other important business associates and notify them about the death.

Make arrangements to collect any belongings the deceased had stored at their place of work.

Speak with their supervisor, or an HR representative, to discuss items including, but not limited to:

  • Insurance policies, retirement, or pension plans the deceased may have had through their employer that may have benefits available
  • Additional employee death benefits the surviving family or beneficiaries may be eligible for
  • Final paychecks or vacation wages still owed to the deceased
  • Additional personal documents which may be stored with the employer

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant Make sure that the records of any final money owed to the deceased be meticulously managed because it may have implications while settling the estate during Probate.

Mismanaged money can have both tax and legal implications for the Executor of the Estate, so it's important to be aware that:

  • Any money owed to a deceased person is property of their Estate, not themselves
  • Therefore, the employer should provide final payment as a physical check so that it can be easily deposited into the Estate Bank Account
  • If the employer deposits final wages into the deceased's bank account, it must be transferred to the estate account when their account is liquidated during probate
  • However, if the deceased's bank account was set 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 "Settle the Estate" section of the Guide.

AutumnIcons_Providers.svgProviders Managing a deceased person's Assets can be complicated, so it may be best to contact a Certified Public Accountant or Estate Attorney 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.

Actions to Take


View instructions from the IRS about how to submit tax returns for a deceased person

Providers to Contact


Certified Public Accountants Near You

An Accountant may be able to help collect wages, benefits, or assets owed to the deceased. They specialize in financial record keeping and reporting and can also help file final tax returns.

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Probate Attorneys Near You

Probate Attorneys can help collect wages, benefits, or assets owed to the deceased. They help settle a deceased person’s estate.

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Immediately After a Death