It can be frustrating and upsetting to continue to receive mail for a deceased person. There are several steps you can take to stop getting mail for a deceased person (or to at least dramatically reduce how often it happens).
4 Simple Steps to Stop Mail for a Deceased Person
If You're the Executor
If you aren't sure if you're the executor, then the Beginner's Guide to Probate should help.
Set up mail forwarding once the probate process begins. This helps make sure that you're receiving any bills or important paperwork that's sent to the deceased. You'll need some of this paperwork for the probate process, so keep good track of it.
Bring a copy of the court order closing probate to the post office. After probate has ended, head to the post office with a copy of the court order. This will cause most mail delivery to be stopped permanently.
Contact the DMA. Unfortunately, some direct mail advertising might still slip through the cracks. To prevent this from happening, the Direct Marketers Association (DMA) has a form to let advertisers know that a person is deceased. There's no cost associated with it, and you can fill it out online.
Contact organizations directly. If subscriptions or charity requests continue to arrive, you can contact the organization directly and let them know the person it's addressed to is deceased.
If You're Not the Executor
There are several cases where you're not the executor of an estate, but you (or a loved one) are still receiving mail. It's important to keep in mind that it's a federal crime to open mail that's not addressed to you, so make sure you don't open any envelopes unless you're the executor.
- If you're in contact with the executor, your first step should be to talk to them. If probate is still open, the executor can have all mail forwarded to them. If it's closed, they can request that the post office stop all mail service to the deceased.
- If you're not in contact with the executor (for example, if you're receiving mail for a former tenant), keep reading for steps you can take.
Contact the Direct Marketer's Association to stop most direct mail advertising (a.k.a. junk mail). Use the same form linked above to let the DMA know that the previous tenant is deceased.
You can write directly on the envelope and return it to your mailbox.
- If you want to forward a single piece of mail to the executor, cross out your address and write the address you'd like it delivered to, then mail it like you would any other letter.
- If you don't know who to send it to, write "Deceased - Return to Sender" on the envelope and mail it like you would any other letter.
Contact the organization directly. If you're still receiving mail addressed to the deceased person, you can contact the organizations directly (for example, if you're receiving magazines or mail from charities).
The United States Postal Service's Page on Mail Addressed to the Deceased
The Direct Marketing Association's Deceased Do Not Contact Registration
Get Started Now
It might take some time to completely stop mail delivery for a deceased person. The steps to begin are simple and generally quick to do. The sooner you work your way through these steps, the sooner the situation will be resolved.
Stopping mail for a deceased person is just one step in a long process, though. For a breakdown of everything you're responsible for, go here.