We all would prefer to never think about it, but inevitably someone close to you will die. It is heart-wrenchingly painful – whether you are going through it currently or have been through it before, we are terribly sorry for your loss. There are a number of things that need to be taken care of after a loved one passes. It seems morbid to think about it in advance, but the better prepared you are now, the smoother the process will go after a loved one passes. Below are a few things we have compiled to guide you through some of those next steps after a loved one passes, so that the stress is a little bit lighter.
If your loved one was an organ donor, you need to notify a hospital or doctor’s office of their passing. This way, their wishes can be honored and their organs can help someone in need. Do this as soon as possible; there is only a short window of time to handle everything with the donation.
Notify family and friends of their passing. If this is too painful for you right now, find someone who can handle this process for you and have them pass the news along to those who need to know. This does not have to be a lengthy phone call or in person conversation with every person. It can be something as simple as a post on social media or a mass text message or email. If the deceased was actively employed, notify their employer of the death as well.
Arrange for the handling of the body. If the decedent has already made arrangements with a funeral home, then give them a call to inform them of the passing. They will be able to assist you through the process. If there are not currently any plans in place, you will need to contact a funeral home to make arrangements. If a funeral trust was made, then the trustee will be in charge of handling all arrangements.
You will also need to make sure that any major assets, like home and car are securely locked and, in the case of a vehicle, safely moved to a private location if necessary. This is also the time to make sure that any pets are provided for.
You need to find out if the decedent had any funeral plans in place. Once you have notified the funeral home, they will be able to help you with determining any plans.
Next you should arrange with the post office to have all mail forwarded to you or whomever else is handling their affairs. This can be done in person or on the usps.com website.
Second Week and Following
Obtain certified copies of the death certificate. You will want to get several of these because all institutions will need a copy. The bank, the IRS, the insurance companies, etc. all need a separate certified copy in order to complete their processes.
Find the will and determine the executor. If your loved one didn’t have a will, speak with an attorney to determine what to do.
Make a list of bills that are outstanding and arrange payment. At this point you will also need to cancel any services that will no longer be needed. Things like cable or internet should be on this list.
Lastly, for a list of which agencies to contact about their passing, we suggest starting with the Social Security Administration, insurance companies, banks, financial advisors, credit agencies, and the Department of Motor Vehicles. These notifications will inform you of any outstanding balances that are owed, will cancel any services, and will prevent identity theft.