What To Do After The Death Of A Loved One: A Checklist For After Death Responsibilities
Dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy. It is even more difficult when you are appointed to handle the after death responsibilities. Yes, it can be very overwhelming. That is why we made you this checklist to make this process simpler and easier to manage. Be sure to download the FREE worksheet at the end to help you stay organized!
Tasks To Do Immediately After Death
- Get A Legal Pronunciation Of Death: An official pronunciation of death is the first step in this process so that a death certificate can be issued. A doctor can do this if the death occurred in a hospital. If your loved one has a hospice nurse, then the hospice nurse can declare the death. If neither applies, then you can call 911 and they will certify the death. In this step, the body can often times be cleaned, by either the family or by the professionals, prior to moving to a funeral home or crematory. Doing so can help the family with the grieving process. If applicable, check your loved one’s driver license to verify if your family member is an organ donor. Organ donation is time-sensitive, so calling the right people needs to happen quickly.
- Let Your Family And Friends Know: Communicate with family members and friends via text, email, phone call, social media; how ever it seems suitable for your family’s needs. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Get as much help from family and friends so that it makes your life easier.
- Find Out The Funeral And Burial Plans: Ideally, your loved one will have their funeral and burial wishes stated in their will or medical documents, had a conversation about it with the family, or has already prearranged a plan with funeral home. If not, you will have to make a decision with the family. When discussing this with family, consider things like what can you afford, what would your loved one have wanted, and what the family wants. There are 3 options your family can discuss: a burial, cremation, or a full body donation. Choose what’s best for your family.
- Secure Any Major Property Or Any Pets: Gather any belongings from your loved one’s house that is important or meaningful as well as make arrangements for any pets. The last thing you want, is someone stealing personal belongings or breaking into the house; so be sure to lock all doors and windows.
Responsibilities A Few Days After
- Have Mailed Forward To The Person Handling The Estate: Go to the local post office to have your loved one’s mail forwarded to the person who is handing the estate(this can be you). Don’t forget to do this because you don’t want a pile of mail at your family member’s house, that pile of mails telegraphs to the world that the property is vacant (this attracts homeless and looters to break into the house). Receiving mail is also a good way to see what bills, accounts, subscriptions, or creditors your family member has so that it’ll be easier for you to close or pay those accounts.
- Notify Employer(s): lf applicable, let your loved one’s employer(s) know about the death so they know, your loved one won’t be expected to come to work anymore. At this time also inquire about their last paycheck as well as any benefits your loved one had (like a 401k account or life insurance policy).
- Plan The Funeral: Once your family has made a decision on the burial/cremations plans talk with multiple funeral homes and crematories to look for the best prices. If your family member served in the military, he/she may be qualify to get financial assistance from the VA. If you are choosing to do a funeral and need some financial assistance, consider doing a GoFundMe Crowdfunding campaign. This is basically a fundraiser to help pay for the costs. It is common to post this fundraiser on social media (facebook). Creating an obituary is a good way to memorialize your family member as well as it is a good way to communicate upcoming funeral plans. It costs money to create an obituary in print but if you do it online it can be free.
What To Do Within A Few Weeks
- Get Death Certificates: You’ll need at least 10 certified death certificates so that you can settle the estate (paying creditors, closing accounts, getting insurance and benefits claims etc..) Check with your state legislature to see how you can get the certificates. If you’re here in California, it is faster to get the death certificates at your county recorder’s office.
- Find The Will: Look for your loved one’s will in a safe, deposit box, or in desk. The will is an important document when settling the estate. This document explains the wishes and desires for their assets, belongings and liabilities. The will should appoint a person (called the executor) to handle and carry out the wishes in the will. If there is no will, a probate judge will appoint someone to carry out the will (called the administrator).
- Carrying Out The Will And Settling The Estate: Figuring out if you have to go through the probate process(the court process of administering an estate) is determined by the amount of money involved, the type of property involved, and who is claiming the property. We won’t go over the details on which process to use but check out our other article to see which process you can use: Does An Estate Need To Go Through Probate In California? When settling an estate, you need to are make sure that your loved one’s debts and liabilities are paid and the assets are distributed correctly to the beneficiaries.
Here Is An Overview Of What Goes On In Settling Any Estate
- Make An Inventory Of Assets: write down all assets including real estate property, personal property(vehicles, manufactured homes, boats etc..), bank accounts, jewelry, brokerage accounts, businesses, and any other accounts.
- Make A List Of Bills: Collect any bills that your loved one may have including mortgage payments, health bills, utilities, taxes etc.. (This will help you later to close any accounts.)
- Get Assistance From:
- Tax Accountant: Will Need To Determine Gift And Estate Tax
- Probate lawyer (If Applicable)
- Trust Lawyer (If Applicable)
- Notify The Following Agencies Of Death: Social Security Administration- so they can cancel any benefits and prevent any SSA fraud
- Life Insurance Company- to collect any death benefits/claims,
- Banks/Financial Accounts- to close any bank accounts or credit cards.
- Financial Advisors/Stockbrokers- to close account and collect any cash or assets for the beneficiaries
- Credit Agencies- to notify Equifax, Transunion, and Experian of death, close account, and prevent identity theft.
- Department Of Motor Vehicles(DMV): To cancel Driver’s License and to prevent identity theft.
- Email/Social Media Accounts: Once you have all the information you need, close the accounts to prevent identity theft. Feel free to use social media accounts as a memorial for your beloved. It is one last way to “Remember” your loved one.