Step #5: Sort through your parents’ personal finances

Stay on top of Household bills

Along with your parents’ house, you’re inheriting the property’s debt and ongoing bills. See below for more information. 

Get access to the financial accounts you’ll need

If your parents’ bills will be paid automatically with a direct debit or electronic check, then you’ll need to ensure there’s enough money in the account to cover those charges until the house sells.

To do that, you need access to your parents’ bank accounts, which may take some work if you don’t already jointly own the account, or aren’t named as a payable-on-death beneficiary.

You’ll also need access to monthly bills — especially those related to the maintenance of the house. Arrange to have your parents’ mail forwarded to you, and find their login information for any online accounts.

Run a title search if necessary

Sometimes, a deceased parents’ home will have liens or judgments attached to the property, such as taxes that are in arrears, a home equity line of credit, or a reverse mortgage, and in that case you may need to run a full title search to identify and address those financial issues.

Submit the death certificate

You need to notify the creditors of your parents’ death, and you may need to submit a copy of your parents’ death certificate(s) to these creditors, the credit bureaus, and the social security administration.

Here’s a basic list of accounts and bills to keep an eye out for when sorting through your parents’ financials:

  • Income and retirement accounts (checking and savings accounts, 401K, CDs, etc.)
  • Personal and property tax records
  • Mortgage payment records
  • Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)
  • Reverse mortgage statements
  • Utilities (water, electricity, sanitation, etc.)
  • Medical bills
  • Credit card statements
  • Insurance policies
  • Communication services (landline, cell phone, internet service, cable TV, etc.)
  • Household service expense records (gardener, housekeeper, home healthcare, etc.)
  • Homeowners association payment records


Once the house sells, you’ll be able to close out those accounts and stop paying those bills. Until then, you’ll need to keep making payments (although some services, like cable and internet, you can cancel right away).

Step 6 in the process is to review the home’s insurance policy. A vacant home may need additional coverage.