How to Stop Mail Addressed to a Deceased Person?
Even though we have moved into the electronic age, we still receive a significant amount of paper mail. For some, the amount of paper mail may be higher, especially for those who never embraced email or the internet as a means of communication. Therefore, one of your first steps as an executor for the probate estate is to contact the post office and submit a change of address form. You need to ensure that all of the deceased’s mail is coming to your address so that you can review bills, statements, etc. and take the appropriate measures according to the decedent’s Will or state law.
Unfortunately, along with the important pieces of mail that you receive, you will also receive junk mail, catalogs, magazines, and other items. At some point, you will want to stop mail from being delivered. Bills and statements typically end once the account is settled; however, junk mail will continue until you take steps to stop it.
Tips for Stopping Mail Once the Estate is Settled
If you are the executor, once the probate estate has been closed, take a copy of your appointment papers and the order closing the estate and dismissing you as the executor to the post office and request that all mail delivery to the decedent cease.
Direct mail can be tricky to stop. Marketing and mailing lists are routinely sold thousands of times to thousands of companies. It is impossible to notify each of these companies individually. You can register with a couple of online organizations that will stop most, if not all, of the junk mail to a deceased person. Register with the Deceased Do Not Contact List and DMAChoice. It may take a few months for the junk mail to cease.
In order to stop magazine and other subscriptions, you must contact the company or organization directly to stop delivery. Send a copy of the order closing the probate estate and request that the company cease delivery and close the account permanently.
For random pieces of mail, write, “Deceased, Return to Sender” on the envelope and put it back in the mailbox. This works for most other types of junk mail that you may receive.
Pre-approved credit offers are another type of junk mail that continues to arrive long after a person passes away. To stop this type of mail, you need to stop consumer credit reporting agencies from providing information to companies who send pre-approved offers. You can do this by visiting OptOutPrescreen and registering the decedent’s information.
Email is another type of “mail” that we must deal with these days. Of course, you can simply close the email account; however, if that account is shared with another person, this could be an issue. If you want to leave the email account open, register the account with the Direct Marketing Association to opt out of email communications from its members. Note, this may or may not stop all communications to this email address from direct marketing companies.
One last note with regard to mail addressed to a deceased person. It is a federal offense to open and read someone else’s mail. If you receive mail addressed to another person and you are not a legal representative of that person, do not open their mail. Return the mail to the sender, unopened.
For more information, we invite you to request a probate consultation with one of the attorneys at Estate Law Partners, LLC. The experience and knowledge of our Madison area attorneys can help you find peace of mind through this difficult time.