The recently deceased continue to exist on paper, and this may be the case for some time. Meanwhile, many bankable facts — key among them your Social Security number and personally identifiable information — are just sort of there in the form of “zombie” purchasing power. An identity thief can use that purchasing power to drain your bank accounts, open new credit in your name and perpetrate all sorts of fraud that can impact your family and heirs.
We seem to be getting better about protecting ourselves from identity theft. We are more apt to monitor our bank statements, credit card statements and credit rating to make sure that someone else is not using our name and social security number to assume our identity.
But when you pass away, for a time, there might not be anyone who is doing that for you. In fact, it might be some months before the necessary entities know that you have passed away.
In the case of the Social Security Administration, they might not know that you have passed away for years.
As recently reported in the Huffington Post, this has led to a new phenomenon of identity thieves specifically targeting the recently deceased. The article is titled “The New Grave Robbers: Identity Thieves.”
As the article explains, you need to make protection against identity thieves a part of your estate plan. The single best way to do this is to include a check list for your executor or personal representative about what needs to be monitored and what entities need to be notified of your death.
Doing this can spare your estate a lot of problems.
If you have been a victim of identity theft, you know how difficult it can be to set things right while you are alive. It is even more difficult for an estate administrator to do.
Contact an experienced estate planning attorney. He or she can help you think through all of these contingencies.