Step-By-Step Guide: What To Do When a Loved One Dies

After losing a member of the family, the very last thing you want to do is complete a list of to-dos. The pain and loss alone are overwhelming enough. Taking the time to sort out your grief is crucial. Yet there are, unfortunately, a number of tasks that need to be handled, at various intervals following the person’s passing.

To ease this process, we’ve put together a straightforward guide that details what to do when a loved one dies.

What Do I Need to Do After My Loved One Passes Away?

Right after death:

  • Obtain the legal pronouncement of death by a medical professional. In a hospital or nursing home, this will automatically be taken care of. In the case of death at home, call 911 for transport to the hospital for the pronouncement.
  • Alert friends and family. Use whatever method is most comfortable for you. You can contact one person and ask them to spread the word, or it may be more cathartic for you to speak with each individual yourself. Use social media or email if that works for you. There’s no correct or incorrect way to accomplish this.
  • Contact the funeral home of your choice (or, if final wishes were preplanned, your loved one’s choice) to advise them of the death.

In a few days:

  • Work with the funeral home, the individual’s religious organization, and, if applicable, the Veterans’ Administration, to finalize plans for the service.
  • Determine who you would like to assist with funeral-related tasks, for example, writing the obituary, helping with thank-you notes, serving as pallbearers, and making arrangements for a post-funeral gathering.
  • Lock up any valuables in the house and remove any perishable food.
  • Contact the post office for a forwarding order for the person’s mail.
  • Make long-term arrangements for any pets.

In two weeks:

  • Obtain ten copies of the individual’s death certificate (or, ask the funeral home to take care of this for you).
  • Make a list of all assets and bills, and cancel accounts: electric, phone, internet, streaming services, etc.
  • Locate the individual’s will and identify who the executor is.
  • Meet with a lawyer to discuss estate settlement.
  • Close the individual’s email account, and either close or memorialize their social media account(s).
  • Notify the Social Security Administration, life insurance company, bank and financial advisors, a credit bureau such as Equifax, and the DMV. Most of these organizations will need a copy of the death certificate.
  • Contact a CPA to prepare a final tax return to be filed.
  • Take a copy of the will to your city or county probate court office to start the process of ensuring the person’s wishes outlined in the will are followed and that all outstanding debts are taken care of.

Radiant Health Services is here to assist you through this difficult time, especially if the person leaves behind an elderly spouse. Our caregivers can step in to fill any gaps in care while you manage the many final tasks and arrangements needed. Contact us online or call us any time at (240) 673-6377 for assistance.

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