Losing a loved one to the cold hands of death is one of the hardest thing that can happen to an individual. Regardless of how prepared we try to be, saying goodbye is never easy. The days and weeks that follows the death of a loved one can be nothing short of challenging and everyone grieves in diverse ways.
While nothing will truly mitigate the grief or ease the pain, having a detailed checklist of what to do when someone die can go a long way, even if it is just a little bit.
Obtain legal documentation of death
Legal documentation of death will be crucial for several things, like accessing bank and other financial account, kick starting the probate process ( if needed), filing a claim of life insurance and handling other personal affairs.
You will want multiples copies of the death certificate, which you can get from a funeral home or medical examiner. Obtaining the death certificate should happen relatively soon after the passing, usually within some days. How long you actually have depends on state law.
Notify Necessary parties
Of course you’ll want to alert the right people of the passing. It can be hard, but try to let the most essential individuals know first. In the era of social media, new spreads fast, and you don’t want close family members or friends to learn of a passing from Facebook. Try to alert the following individuals, in this order, if possible:
- Family members (all)
- Frequent acquaintances
- Professional relationship
- Old friends whom they may not communicate with anymore
Make arrangements for the body
Any final arrangements that need to be made will greatly depend on the loved one’s last wishes. In the best situation, you’ll know and can honor their vision easily because you’ll have a lucid understanding of what he or she wanted.
If the death was quick, or if there were never any conversations regarding what should happen, it can become quite a bit more complex. Know that there are several options for services, funerals, wakes and burials. You can start thinking about these basics now (Memorial service or not? Wake? Open casket viewing? Graveside burial? Cremation? Etc…).
Make arrangements for children and pets
If your loved one had any dependents ( minor children or adults who cannot cater to themselves) or pets, you need to find their estate plans quickly to see what, if any, provisions were set up for guardianship.
If a will or trust hasn’t been found and there are minors or pets to be considered, arrangements need to be made fast. If no estate planning documents are ever found, and/ or if guardianship hasn’t been made, the court may need to get involved to make a more final, long-term decision.
Secure assets and execute other essential tasks
You want to secure basic assets and personal property by make sure that home (s) and car (s) are locked. Other simple but essential to-dos can include mundane household tasks and chores like:
- Taking the trash out
- Checking the mail (and eventually forwarding it)
- Bringing in any newspapers or other deliveries, etc.
- Looking into Veteran’s benefits
As you go through the probate, you may want to start thinking about things such as holding an estate sale and cleaning the house to prepare it for a sale if necessary, etc.
Carry out decedent’s wishes
If you are yet to locate it, now is the time to find the will and any other estate planning documents. These might be able to help you as you start planning a memorial or funeral. Often, wills specify the type of ceremony that is desired, including who should be invited and other essential end of life choices.
Make funeral plans
Though planning a funeral will probably be exhausting, it must be done. Follow steps below to ensure that you do everything you need in order to fully honor your loved one. And the most essential part of this step is to know that it is right to ask for help.
- Write the obituary/ death announcement
- Coordinate funeral arrangement
- Send out invites
- Determine memorial type
Contact a probate attorney for this task.
Do you need an estate planning attorney?
If you need the services of an estate planning lawyer, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our estate planning attorney will provide you with the advice and help you need to navigate the estate settlement process.