The death of a loved one is most often accompanied by sadness, anxiety, and confusion. You may also feel like you need to do something, but not know exactly what you need to do. If so, this list of things to do in the days and weeks immediately after a loved one passes away may help:
Get A Legal Pronouncement Of Your Loved One’s Death
If your loved one died at home, call 911 to report the death and get emergency personnel to come legally pronounce your loved one’s death. This step must be taken before you can obtain the death certificates needed to settle the decedent’s affairs.
Notify Family and Friends
Notify all of your loved one’s family and friends. Get them to assist you with notifying others. Also, don’t forget to notify the decedent’s church and employer.
Locate Your Loved One’s Last Wishes
Look through your loved one’s documents, personal belongings, and any safe deposit box for which you have access to find out if your loved one:
- Has a prepaid burial plan;
- Has a Will or Trust;
- Belonged to a memorial society; and
- Left any information regarding the type of funeral or burial services they want.
Also speak with the decedent’s agents, conservators, or trustees, if any, for any information they can provide regarding the decedent’s last wishes.
Get Help From Family and Friends
Ask family and friend for help with the following tasks:
- Answering the decedent’s telephone;
- Collecting the decedent’s mail;
- Caring for the decedent’s pets if he or she had any; and
- Guarding the decedent’s home against burglary while they are being laid to rest and their estate is being settled.
Get Copies of the Death Certificate
The funeral director you choose can assist you with ordering copies of the death certificate. You will usually need a death certificate for the probate court, then one for each of the decedent’s financial accounts, life insurance providers, and one for each piece of real estate for which the decedent was joint owner. It is also a good idea to order a few extra death certificates in case you need them.
Contact The Following Parties:
- The decedent’s fraternal and religious organizations and/or military attachment as they might provide additional funeral services.
- An accountant to find out if you need to file any final tax returns for the decedent.
- The decedent’s investment brokers for information regarding the decedent’s investment holdings and to identify the decedent’s assets.
- The decedent’s banks to obtain account information.
- The decedent’s insurance agents for information regarding life insurance and to obtain claims forms.
- The Social Security Administration and/or Department of Veteran Affairs to cease any benefit checks the decedent had been receiving and inquire about death benefits.
- The administrators of the decedent’s pension plan to cease checks and obtain claim forms.
- Utility, cable TV, telephone, and internet providers to discontinue services to the decedent’s home, or change the payee.
- The decedent’s employer to inquire about death benefits.
- The Post Office to forward the decedent’s mail to his or her personal representative or trustee.
Bear in mind, this is only a brief overview of the many things you may be required to do to settle a loved one’s estate after they pass away. For more detailed information, and for help understanding your loved one’s Will or Trust, contact a qualified probate attorney.
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