Following the death of a loved one, on top of feeling sad and upset, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed and stressed by the tasks that need to be handled. Not sure where to start? Below is a guide for what needs to be done following the loss of a loved one.
Call the appropriate individuals: If your loved one is in hospice care at the time of death, call in a hospice nurse. If your loved one is in a hospital, notify the nurse or doctor. Otherwise, call the emergency services to report the death. You may also want to call close family members to inform them of the death.
Choose a funeral home: If you or your loved one has not already done so, now is the time to select a funeral home for the burial or cremation service. If you don’t have a connection with a funeral director or if you need assistance making funeral arrangements, take a look at our funeral planning checklist.
Obtain 10-20 copies of the death certificate from the funeral home, city clerk’s office, or local vital statistics office: To determine the number of death certificates you will need, estimate the number of assets held by your loved one or institutions that will require a death certificate, including financial institutions, government agencies, creditors, unions, and membership groups. Please note, you may always order more death certificates if you need them.
Consider writing or arranging for an obituary for your loved one: Here are some tips for writing an obituary.
Contact your loved one’s attorney, accountant, and the executor of the estate:
Contact your loved one’s employer: Be sure to ask about unpaid compensation that might be due to your loved one as well as the details surrounding your loved one’s benefits package. For instance, are the deceased’s dependents still covered by the company’s insurance policies? You’ll also want to ask about pension plans, credit unions, and union death benefits. Please note, you will need a certified copy of the death certificate for each claim.
Contact social security: Contact the social security office at 800-772-1213. Some of the deceased’s family members may be eligible to receive social security benefits if the deceased person worked long enough under social security to qualify for benefits. In addition, call any other agencies that may have been making monthly payments to your loved one, and find out if survivors are entitled to any further benefits.
If applicable, contact the Veterans Administration: If your loved one was a veteran, contact the VA at 800-827-1000 to find out if he or she is eligible for assistance with burial or cremation costs. Additionally, you’ll need to stop any monthly payments the VA was sending to your loved one.
Contact your loved one’s insurers: Ask the deceased’s life insurer about current policies or annuities, and connect with his or her auto, medical, home, etc. insurers. You will need to provide the insurance companies with a certified copy of the death certificate, along with the policy numbers.
Call the utilities companies to discontinue services or have them transfer the bills into the name of the surviving spouse.
If there is no surviving spouse, end subscriptions to newspapers, magazines, and journals.
If there is no surviving spouse, forward mail at the post office.
Make an inventory of personal belongings: Your loved one’s personal belongings need to be accounted for and then they may be properly distributed. Make sure, however, the distribution is done in accordance with the will or other instructions left by your loved one (and in compliance with applicable tax laws). Before distributing any of the deceased’s belongings or assets, you may want to consult with an attorney to ensure that distributions are done in the most efficient and tax effective manner.
Have you planned a funeral service? Share some of your tips below.
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