Losing a loved one is always difficult. In addition to coping with their grief, many people are left feeling overwhelmed by the numerous obligations and tasks associated with settling their loved ones’ affairs and don’t know where to start. Having a general idea of what to do when someone passes away can ease this burden and help you better navigate the post-death administration process. With that in mind, here is a checklist of the immediate steps to take following the death of a loved one:
- Notify immediate family members, close friends and the deceased person’s employer, if applicable. You may also need to arrange for the care of children, pets, or any other immediate family members under the deceased person’s care.
- Locate the deceased person’s important papers, including any estate planning documents they may have and any pre-arrangements they may have made for funeral, burial and/or cremation.
- Secure the deceased person’s home and any vehicles to ensure the safekeeping of their contents.
- Contact the funeral home, mortuary, or crematorium to coordinate the disposition of the deceased person’s remains. If the deceased person made pre-arrangements for funeral, then you will want to follow those. During this time, you will also want to request several copies of the death certificate, as you will need these down the line to gain access to and transfer the assets.
- Schedule an appointment with a qualified estate planning attorney, once you have had time to grieve and take care of the initial steps. The process of administration will vary depending on whether the person had a trust, will, or no estate planning documents at all. Accordingly, it is crucial that you consult with an experienced professional to ensure proper administration of the estate.