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Credit Q&A: How Can I Pull a Deceased Family Member’s Credit Report?

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Credit Question: My father recently died. Can I get a copy of his credit report to see if he owed any debts we aren’t aware of? And do I need to notify the credit reporting agencies of his debt? I’ve tried calling the credit reporting agencies but I can’t talk with a live person to find out what to do.

Answer: First, our sincerest condolences for the loss of your father. I contacted the three major credit reporting agencies for an answer to your question. Heather Battison, senior director of education for TransUnion’s consumer products, explained the basic process and Mary Reed, who has contributed to a number of books on legal topics including estate planning, filled me in on how to obtain the documents you’ll need.

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Here’s what to do:

 Step 1.  Gather the documents you will need. If your father prepared a durable financial power of attorney before he died and named you as his financial agent, make a copy of that document. If not, and assuming you are the executor of your father’s will, you’ll need to obtain letters testamentary from the probate court where your father’s will is filed. (Get one copy for each of the three credit reporting agencies.) If your father’s will has not yet been filed with the probate court, you’ll need to do that first. The court will require you provide a certified copy of your father’s death certificate in order to do that.

Step 2. Mail a copy of the certified death certificate and either the copy of your father’s durable power of attorney or a copy of the letters testamentary to all three credit reporting agencies. Include a cover letter explaining what you are trying to accomplish, and make sure the deceased’s name, address and Social Security number are clearly identified in the letter. According to TransUnion, the cost of obtaining a copy of your father’s credit report will depend on the state in which the deceased person lived and whether copies have been ordered in the past year by you or by the person who died. Here are the mailing addresses of the credit reporting agencies:

TransUnion LLC
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022

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Equifax Information Services LLC
Office of Consumer Affairs
PO Box 105139
Atlanta, GA 30348

Experian
P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013

TransUnion’s Battison also recommends that you update your deceased father’s credit reports by:

1. Contacting all of his creditors and requesting that they update their records to show that he is dead. The creditors will probably want you to forward to them a copy of his death certificate, if they have not already been notified of the death.

2. Check with the Social Security Administration to ensure that it has updated its files. Refer to the blue page of your local telephone directory for the address and phone number of the nearest Social Security office. Or, use this online tool to find a local office.

Experian explains on its web site that spouses, executors or others representing the deceased can request that a “deceased indicator” be added to the deceased’s credit report by providing a copy of the death certificate to its consumer assistance center. The indicator will help prevent identity theft.

I hope this helps. Please let us know if you have any problems getting his reports.

[Related article: Collecting Debt From Those Who Have Died: FTC Weighs In]

This article was updated June 29, 2012.

Image: © Claudia Pasescu | Dreamstime.com

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  • Janine McIver

    Very helpful information. Thank you.

  • http://credit.com Lori Goff

    My mom passed away on tuesday 9-4-12. She did not have a will nor can i afford to hire an attorney to file a brobate case. Is there still a way to get accesss to my mothers credit report with out executorship. i have death certificates soc security #’s birth certificates etc. I would think that should be all i need to prove that i am next of kin, this process is dificult and heart breaking enough. i hope someone can give me some direction to this matter

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Lori,

      I am so sorry to hear about your mother’s death. You can certainly try to request your mother’s reports using the documents you have. If you run into problems you should be able to get the documentation you need from the appropriate court – even without hiring an attorney. Your state bar association may offer a free publication on the probate process in your state that will explain how it works in your state.

    • empire95

      Lori, there’s no cost upfront to hire a probate atty, unless there’s a family dispute and you enter right into a litigation. But, opening probate requires very little work, a filing only, and if you’re only looking to be named administrator (no will) to obtain a credit report it’s done in a single hearing, you pay about 75- $100 for a bond in case there’s value in the Estate. Attorney’s only get paid if the Estate of the deceased yields value, it’s a small percentage.

  • sandy

    HOW CAN MY HUSBAND FIND OUT WHERE ALL HIS FATHER’S MONEY IS? HE PASSED AWAY NOV 24TH 2013 AND HIS SISTER CLAIMS HE HAS NOTHING. THERE WAS NO WILL BUT WE KNOW FROM ANOTHER FAMILY MEMBER THAT MY HUSBANDS DAD WAS A VERY WEALTHY MAN. HOW DOES MY HUSBAND GO ABOUT FINDING OUT THE TRUTH AND CLAIMING HIS SHARE OF HIS INHERIDENCE.

    • Credit.com

      Sandy – Unfortunately, legal issues involving family wills and inheritance questions are outside of our realm of expertise. We’d suggest contacting an attorney, preferably one familiar with inheritance disputes, for advice on this one.

  • Executor Efforts

    The credit agencies should support simplifying the process by allowing credit reports for the deceased to be done online, since they already support providing credit reports on line for the living. The Agency could easily query the Executor for their name & personal identification online, and verify that the same way they identify personal information for the deceased. By tying the information together, identity theft attempts would be prevented or could be traced. And this would make the executor’s duties much easier to manage. After all, a $12/hour loan agent can see your deceased CR but you, the Executor, cannot? ( without jumping through hoops)?

  • http://www.ekglaw.com Evan Guthrie

    This is very good practical information on how to get a deceased family member’s credit report. Getting an accurate report may help probate. Sometimes an attorney may have to step in and help if there are roadblocks in the way.

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