One important thing that you should do if you are appointed executor of a deceased person’s probate estate, or if you are the successor trustee of a trust, is to ask the post office to forward the deceased person’s mail to your home address. Regrettably, along with important pieces of mail like account statements, bills, and refunds, many less-important pieces of mail like catalogs, solicitations, and plain old junk mail will end up in your mailbox.
On the other hand, you may also receive a deceased person’s mail if you purchased a home from a probate estate or deceased person’s trust.
So how can you stop the post office from delivering mail addressed to a deceased person? Here are four steps that you can take to stop mail from being delivered to the decedent:
- If you are the executor of an estate that has been through probate court and the estate is officially closed, hand-deliver or send a copy of the probate order closing the estate and dismissing you as the executor to the deceased person’s local post office, and request that all mail service be stopped immediately. If you don’t take this step and find that some mail continues to trickle through two or more years after the death, this is because the U.S. 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.
- To stop mail received as the result of commercial marketing lists (junk mail), log on to the Deceased Do Not Contact Registration page (https://www.ims-dm.com/cgi/ddnc.php) of the DMAchoice.org website and enter the deceased person’s information. According to the website, “DMAchoice™ is an online tool developed by the Direct Marketing Association to help you manage your mail. This site is part of a larger program designed to respond to consumers’ concerns over the amount of mail they receive, and it is the evolution of the DMA’s Mail Preference Service created in 1971.” After registering the deceased person on the website, the organization claims that the amount of mail received as the result of commercial marketing lists should decrease within three months.
- For magazines and other subscriptions and mail that is technically not “junk” mail (for example, solicitations from charities to which the deceased person made donations while they were living), contact the organization directly to inform them of the death. Some publishers will issue a refund for any 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 someone else’s mail, so if you’re not a legal representative of the deceased person, don’t open their mail!
Zach Wiegand is a Burnsville, Minnesota estate planning attorney and the owner of Gold Leaf Estate Planning, LLC. Gold Leaf Estate Planning is an estate planning law firm that handles probate and trust administration in Minnesota. We serve the Twin Cities metropolitan area with a focus on estate planning for clients in Burnsville, Eagan, Savage, Prior Lake, Lakeville, Apple Valley, Eden Prairie and the South Metro. The firm also handles probate in Dakota County, Washington County, Scott County, Hennepin County, and Ramsey County as well as many other Minnesota Counties. Zach was named a Minnesota Super Lawyer – Rising Star for both 2017 & 2018 and he is a member of WealthCounsel – a national organization of estate planning attorneys dedicated to practice excellence. You can contact Zach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (952) 658-6503. Gold Leaf Estate Planning is located in Burnsville at 3000 County Road 42 W., Suite 310, Burnsville, MN 55337.