Reader Nancy submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:
My husband and I both serve as executors for the estates of family members. When we arranged to have [the deceaseds'] mail forwarded, we got on marketing lists and are getting tons of mail — even for a family member who died in 2001! How can we stop it? We must have gotten thousands of pieces of junk mail and we are just in the beginning with a new estate!
Nancy, I’m sorry to hear about your losses. You and your husband are so kind to take on the closing of estates during your times of grief.
One thing to keep in mind is that even after taking the steps I’m about to mention, you still might continue to receive junk mail for deceased family members. Some companies have predatory practices and don’t really care who lives at an address. Their goal is to get their marketing materials into a mailbox, and how they obtained an address is irrelevant to them.
Your first step in the process is to talk with your local post office about the mail being forwarded to your address for anyone whose estate is already closed. The USPS will provide you a form to complete and then stop forwarding all mail for this person to your address.
Second, the USPS recommends that you put the name of anyone who is deceased on the “Deceased Do Not Contact List.” From the USPS:
You may request to have the deceased’s name removed from commercial marketing lists. To assist in this process, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has created a Deceased Do Not Contact list. All DMA members are required to remove names on this list from their mailing lists and many non-DMA members comply, as well. Once a name is registered, commercial contacts from DMA members should begin to decrease within three months. There is a $1 fee for the service. To register a name or learn more, visit the DMA Web site.
Again, the USPS and the Deceased Do Not Contact List are not 100 percent. However, following these two steps should significantly cut down on the amount of mail you are receiving. Additionally, if you receive any mail that isn’t junk mail (like a note from an uninformed friend), a phone call explaining the delicate situation is likely your best and most considerate option. Since the name and address of the person appear on the envelope, consult a phone book or your directory information (411) to obtain the person’s phone number.
Thank you, Nancy, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column.
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