How to Stop Receiving Mail Addressed to a Deceased Person

You're not at the mercy of junk mail senders

Hands flipping through mail
••• Jed Share/Kaoru Share / Getty Images

A lot of additional mail landing in your box can attract unwanted attention to your property. Maybe you've been appointed as the executor of your parent's estate, and you thought it would be a good idea to have all his mail forwarded to your own address. Or maybe you purchased a home from an estate and now you're receiving the decedent's mail.

What can you do? You can stop mail—even a whole avalanche of mail—that's addressed to a deceased person by taking just a few easy steps.

If the Estate Has Been Closed

Send a copy of the order closing the estate to the deceased person's local post office if probate has been completed and the estate is officially closed. Request that all mail service be stopped immediately. You must be the appointed executor to take this step.

A request to simply redirect the mail to another address will only be valid for one year, so mail will probably begin coming in again after this time has elapsed unless you officially request that it be stopped altogether.

If the Estate Is Still Open

Contact the Deceased Do Not Contact website offered by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) if the estate is still open. Enter your loved one's information. There's no charge for this service.

The amount of mail received as a result of commercial marketing lists—in other words, junk mail—should decrease in about three months, according to the website. The DMA provides updated files to its members every three months. Members are required to delete these names and addresses from their own files at this time.

You can also contact organizations and senders directly to inform them of the individual's death. Or use the good, old-fashioned method of simply returning the mail to its sender. Write "return to sender deceased" on the envelope and put it back in the mailbox.

The Decedent's Financial Obligations

You shouldn't have to worry about receiving ongoing bills for credit cards or other statements regarding the deceased's financial obligations. Her debts should all be settled through the probate process. The executor of the estate should have contacted the decedent's creditors to alert them to submit final bills for payment.

Surviving relatives and beneficiaries are not personally responsible for satisfying these debts themselves. If anyone should try to tell you that you are, pestering you with unwanted correspondence, just let them know that you'll consult with your lawyer about the situation. This should stop all contact because what they're implying is illegal.

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 that in either case, 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 executor, or at least supply the sender with the executor's contact information.