Continuing to receive a family member’s mail after they’ve passed away can be frustrating and distressing.
Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to stop mail delivery for a deceased person.
In this guide, we’ll explain 6 quick steps for stopping regular mail as well as stopping junk mail after death.
1. Forward mail
The first step may sound a little counterintuitive. But, in order to stop mail after a death, you need to get on top of the type of mail that is being sent.
Therefore, if the deceased person lived at an address different from yours and you’re the executor of their estate, then forwarding their mail to your address is the easiest way to sort through this.
To forward the mail, this is what you need to do:
Go to your local post office
Show proof that you are the executor of the deceased person’s estate. For example showing a copy of the court order stating this
Complete a Forwarding Change of Address order
Choose your preferred forwarding service (Regular or Premium)
The cost of forwarding mail depends on the service you choose. As of June 2022, regular mail forwarding costs a one-time fee of just $1.05. Premium forwarding costs a one-time fee of $21.90, plus an additional $21.90 for each week of service. With either service you can forward the mail up to one year.
The executor is legally authorized to open, read, and stop mail on the behalf of the deceased person. Therefore, you can start to sort through the mail and return to the sender.
However, keep in mind that this only affects things sent through USPS. Packages and parcels that are shipped with FedEx or UPS won’t be forwarded.
2. Return to sender
Once you’re in receipt of the deceased person’s mail, you can use the free “return to sender” service.
This is how you do it:
Write “Deceased, Return to Sender” on the front of the envelope of any piece of mail that is addressed to the deceased person that you don’t wish to keep
Ensure the envelope is sealed shut
Put the mail back in your mailbox for your mail carrier to collect it
However, this might become frustrating over time if the mail continues and therefore it’s better to contact the executor directly to discuss forwarding the mail.
3. Register the deceased with the Deceased Do Not Contact (DDNC) List
An effective way to reduce junk mail being sent to a deceased person is by adding their details to the Do Not Contact list provided by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). The DMA is a trade body that many direct marketers and advertisers belong to. By adding a name to the DDNC list, advertisers that are members of the DMA will stop sending unsolicited mail.
The process is simple and free of charge. All you need to do is to fill out a form on the DMA website. Here’s a rundown of the process:
2. Fill out your information and the information of the deceased
3. Verify CAPTCHA
4. Submit the form
Once you submit the form, the updated Do Not Contact list will be shared with DMA members each month. Therefore, once a month has passed, you should start to see a decrease in promotional mail and other junk mail.
However, keep in mind that this will only stop mail from organizations who are members of the DMA. You’ll likely also need to complete the other steps listed in this guide when it comes to stopping junk mail after death.
4. Contact junk mail senders and other organizations directly
You’ll need to contact senders directly to stop junk mail for a deceased person from organizations that aren’t members of the DMA.
In most cases you can do this by contacting the company directly via phone or email. For subscriptions such as magazines or membership clubs, it’s important to contact these organizations as soon as possible in order to cancel billing.
Calling is usually a faster way to move things forward compared to email. But ensure you request proof to be sent to you about the termination of the subscription.
5. Send a court order to the Post Office
As a final step, if you set up mail forwarding to your address, you can request that the Post Office stops this once probate is complete. However, this can only be requested once everything has been completed and the estate has been closed.
The process is straightforward:
Deliver a copy of the probate order to the deceased person’s local post office. (This states that the estate is closed and dismisses you from your Executor role and duties. After this point you no longer have an obligation to open and read the deceased person’s mail.)
Write a letter requesting that any and all mail services be stopped immediately and deliver it to the post office along with the probate order.
This step will stop the mail entirely. Therefore, you should wait until all matters have been completed.
6. Remove their personal information from data brokers
Lastly, you may still be receiving mail for a deceased loved one if their personal details are on data broker platforms. And what’s more, you may start receiving more mail in the future.
Data brokers scrape personal information from public sources and sell this to advertisers. Therefore, to ensure you don’t receive any further mail, you need to remove this information from data broker platforms.
While this can be done by hand, it’s incredibly tedious and time consuming, given the fact there are over 500 data brokers in the US.
A better option is to let us do it for you. Here at DeleteMe, we specialize in removing personal information from data brokers, having processed over 35 million opt out requests. And once data is removed, you’ll see a sharp reduction in spam calls.
Our pricing starts at just $10.75 per month. Click here for more details.
The sooner you complete the above steps, the sooner you’ll stop mail delivery for a deceased person.
One thing to bear in mind though, it’s a federal offense to open and read someone else’s mail. So unless you’re an executor of the deceased person’s estate, do not open their mail.
However, even if you’re not an executor, you can still complete many of the above steps on how to stop getting mail for a deceased person.
Will Simonds runs Senior Marketing Operations at DeleteMe, and is a steadfast privacy advocate who has a resolute dedication to online privacy solutions and helping people regain their privacy.
Since joining DeleteMe in 2015, Will has worked in a number of different roles.
From launching the DeleteMe affiliate program, creating and maintaining hundreds of opt-out guides, fine-tuning DeleteMe’s customer communications and improving website conversion efficiency, Will lives and breathes DeleteMe.
Will earned his BBA from Endicott College.