Stop Receiving Mail Addressed to a Deceased Person

Hands flipping through mail
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Do the deceased still receive mail? Yes, they often do. But you can stop mail, even a whole avalanche of mail, that's addressed to a deceased person. This week a client asked me how he could stop receiving mail addressed to his deceased father. It seems that shortly after the client was appointed as the personal representative of his father's estate, he had all his father's mail forwarded to his own address. He then realized just how much junk mail his father received when it was being dumped into his own mailbox on a regular basis.


So what can you do if you find yourself in this predicament? You may not even be the personal representative of the estate -- maybe your elderly parent lived with you before his death, or you purchased a home from an estate and now you're receiving the decedent's mail. You can take several steps to stop receiving a deceased person's junk mail, and other mail as well. 

  • If probate is completed and the estate is officially closed, send a copy of the order closing the estate to the deceased person's local post office. Request that all mail service be stopped immediately.
  • If the estate is still open, contact the Deceased Do Not Contact website. Enter your loved one's information. According to the website, the amount of mail received as a result of commercial marketing lists -- in other words, junk mail -- should decrease in about three months.
  • For mail that is not technically junk mail, contact the organizations and senders directly to inform them of the individual's death. This type of mail might include solicitations from charities to which the deceased person previously made donations. 
  • You can also use the good, old-fashioned method of simply returning the mail to its sender. Just write "deceased" and "return to sender" on the envelope and put it back in the mail. 

In case you're wondering, yes, you can open the decedent's mail after his/her death if you have been sharing a mailing address. 

The Decedent's Financial Obligations

You should not have to worry about receiving ongoing bills for credit cards or other statements regarding the deceased's financial obligations. His/her debts should all be settled through the probate process. Surviving relatives and beneficiaries are not personally responsible for satisfying the debts of a decedent. And you certainly have no liability if you're involved in the estate for some other reason, such as because you purchased the decedent's real estate.

You can rest assured in either case that you can simply send the unwanted mail on its way, back to the sender. But if the estate is still in probate, you might want to hand the mail over to the personnel administrator, or at least direct the sender to the personal representative or executor of the estate. 

NOTE: State and local laws change frequently, and the above information may not reflect the most recent changes. Please consult with an attorney for current legal advice. The information contained in this article is not legal advice and is not a substitute for legal advice.