Contacting the Decedent’s Employer

The person who passed away may have spent a large part of time at work. Experiencing an out pour of support from the decedent’s employer and co-workers is quite common. Survivors may want to visit the decedent’s work place to meet co-workers who are likely going through the grieving process as well.

Several items may need to be addressed at the decedent’s place of employment: understanding insurance benefits the decedent had through work, securing the last paycheck, finalizing a 401(k) plan or other retirement benefits, life insurance policy and enrolling in COBRA, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which provides continuing coverage of health insurance benefits to families.

Collecting a Last Paycheck:

Most employers have specific policies that cover procedures after the death of an employee that include distributing the decedent’s last paycheck.

You may want to place a call to the Human Resources (HR) Department of the company to confirm when the last deposit will be or was deposited. Further, you can inquire about other questions related to benefits and learn whether you need to sign any forms or go through any other procedures.


Health Insurance

Another topic to inquire about with the HR representative is eligibility of continued health insurance benefits to the family, COBRA, and how to apply for the coverage.

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) was enacted in 1986 to help families who lose their health insurance due to mostly unexpected circumstances. Those who experience such circumstances, including death, have the option to temporarily extend the health coverage they were receiving through the decedent’s employer.

There are three specific qualifications for COBRA:

1. The employer of the decedent must have a group health plan in place and have 20 or more employees (part-time or full-time) on more than half of the business days in the previous calendar year. The employee must also be enrolled in the health plan prior to the event that would cause a lapse in coverage.

2. There must be qualified beneficiaries who are covered by the group health plan. Qualified beneficiaries include spouses of employees and dependent children of employees. Any children that are born or adopted while covered by COBRA are automatically covered.

3. To be eligible for coverage, a “qualified event” must take place. The specific event determines the length of coverage and the qualified beneficiaries under COBRA. There are many qualifying events, including the death of an employee.

For more information about COBRA, contact the decedent’s employer or consult the United States Department of Labor at