Whether it's expected or accidental, the death of a loved one can
shake you to the core. The last thing you'll want is to have to
interrupt grieving to deal with mundane tasks, but unfortunately
there are many actions that must be done on behalf of the
deceased. Some must be taken immediately, while with others you
can take your time and reflect on the best path to follow.
Below is a simple checklist which you may find useful as a
reminder of what needs to be done after someone has died. Some of
the arrangements will need to be done by the executor or
administrator of the estate and others can be done by family or
STEPS TO TAKE WHEN A LOVED ONE DIES
- Get a legal pronouncement of death. If no doctor is present, you
will need to contact someone to do this.
- If the person dies at home under hospice care, call the hospice
nurse, who can declare the death and help facilities to transport
- If the person dies at home without hospice care, call 911 and have
in hand a do-not-resuscitate document if it exists. Without one,
paramedics will start emergency procedures and, except where
permitted to pronounce death, one can take the person to an
emergency room for a doctor to make the declaration.
- Arrange for transportation of the body. If no autopsy is needed,
the body can be picked up by a mortuary (by law, a mortuary must
provide price info over the phone) or crematorium.
- Notify the person's doctor or the county coroner.
- Notify close family and friends (ask them to contact others for
- Call the person's employer, if he or she was working. Request info
about benefits and any pay due. Ask whether there was a
life-insurance policy through their company if you do not know.
- Handle care of dependents and pets
Within a Few Days After Death
- Arrange for funeral and burial or cremation.
- Search the person's
documents to find out whether there was a prepaid burial plan.
a family or friend member to go with you to the mortuary.
- If the person was in the military or belonged to a fraternal or
religious group, contact that organization. They may have burial
benefits or conduct funeral services.
- Ask a friend or relative to keep an eye on the person's home,
answer the phone, collect mail (or stop mail), throw food out and
Up to 10 Days After Death
- Obtain death certificates (usually from the funeral home). Get
multiple copies, as you will need them for financial institutions,
government agencies and insurers.
- Take the Will to the appropriate county or city office to have it
accepted for probate.
- If necessary, the state's executor should open a bank account for
the deceased estate.
Who to Contact
- A trust and estates attorney to learn how to transfer assets and
assist with probate issues.
- Police, to have them periodically
check the deceased's house if vacant.
- Accountant or tax preparer to find out whether an estate-tax
return or final income-tax return should be filed. Call the
persons's investment adviser, for information on holdings.
- Bank to find accounts and safe deposit box.
- Life insurance
agent to get claim forms.
- Social Security and other agencies from
which the deceased received benefits, such as Veterans fairs, to
stop payments and ask about applicable survivor benefits.
providing pension services, to stop monthly check and get claim
- Utility companies, to change or stop service, and postal service
to stop or forward mail.
Most Important: Know the following ahead of time
- Location of the Will, birth certificate, marriage and /or divorce
certificates, Social Security information, Life Insurance
policies, financial documents and keys to safe deposit box or home
safe (or combination).
- Ask their wishes about funeral arrangements, organ donation, and
burial or cremation. Have the person complete an Advance
Directive, including a Living Will, which specifies wanted and
- Also have the person appoint a Power of
Attorney for Health and/or Financial. Have the person draw up a Do
or Do Not resuscitate order.
- Make sure the person gives copies of
the documents to his or her doctor and family members or friends.
- Take the document to the hospital if the person is admitted.
All couples or family members need to sit down and talk with their
particular loved one(s) their Wishes....and be sure the
information is done quickly as we see many families who do not
have Power of Attorney for Medical/Financial if their loved one(s)
have not specified. Make sure a Will is completed or if other
assets a Trust set up (seek attorney advice).
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Next Horizon Senior & Military Locator / Resources
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