Do you know what to do when a loved one dies? Losing a loved one is an understandably difficult time in your life. It is hard to know what all needs to be completed while you grieve.
Steps to take after someone dies
Life after losing a loved one is hard. In addition to planning the funeral, you should be prepared to take the necessary steps to protect your loved one's estate and honor their wishes. Here is a list of what steps to take after a loved one passes away:
- Obtain the death certificate: You should request several certified copies as other individuals and organizations will require a certified death certificate in order to complete their duties.
- Estate administration and the probate process: The executor of the will is responsible for the administration of the estate, including distributing property and handling the final wishes of the deceased. If the deceased did not have a will, the state will handle the administration of the estate, which can lead to additional questions or disputes over management of the estate.
- Inform financial institutions of the death: You will need to contact the insurance companies (employer-sponsored and individually owned), mortgage lender, bank and any other financial institutions associated with the deceased. In most cases, you will need to provide a certified copy of the death certificate and set up new accounts for the heirs of the estate. You may want to consider requesting a copy of the person's credit report and notify credit bureaus of the death.
- Inform government agencies: You will also need to inform government agencies of the death, including the Social Security Administration and any other government benefits the deceased received. This will ensure that benefits are stopped or started for any heirs entitled to receive these benefits.
- Contact service companies: You will need to notify utility companies, Internet and cable providers, cell phone companies and other monthly services the person received. Some of this information may be included in the estate plan, but it can also be helpful to review bank accounts and any statements to determine which companies to contact.
Other steps may be required depending on the person's specific lifestyle and services received.
Do you need an attorney to help?
This process is not easy, but they are important steps to take relatively soon after your loved one's passing. To help the process go smoothly, it is helpful to review the person's estate plan and any relevant documents to determine what actions you need to take to protect the estate and make sure their wishes are honored.
Estate administration and probate can result in complicated issues that are time-consuming and costly. It may be a good idea to work with an estate planning attorney to understand your role and what steps you need to take to make this process as easy as possible.