Legal and Financial Advice: What to Do When a Loved One Dies

What to Do When a Loved One Dies

When a loved one dies, you experience grief and sorrow. But you have to hold in your grief and get down to business. Here’s what to do when a loved one dies.

There is nothing more painful than losing a loved one. It is so easy to become consumed by grief. But, while there is absolutely a place for grief in the days after a loved one dies, there is work that needs to be done.

Funeral arrangements aren’t the only thing you will need to take care of. There are legal and financial responsibilities that must come next.

If you’re not sure what to do when a loved one dies, read on to learn more.

Immediate Action

As soon as someone passes away, there are a few things you have to do right away.

Organ Donation

First, if they were an organ donor, make sure you arrange for that to happen. This might be the opposite of what you want to think about, but it needs to be done immediately.

Organs have to be harvested right away so doctors can use them.

If you’re not sure whether or not your loved one is an organ donor, check their driver’s license or a will.

The hospital should have someone there to help guide you through what you have to do in order to make this happen. There will be no cost to do this.

Handle the Body

If your loved one had instructions on what to do with his or her body, respect those wishes. If they haven’t, it’s up to the next of kin. If you wish to donate their body, you’ll need to make that decision immediately.

Secure Their Property

Make sure that you take the time to lock up your loved one’s home and vehicle. If no one will be coming in or out of the home, it’s a good idea to let the police and landlord know. Also, make sure someone is there to take care of any pets.

Tell the Post Office

Let the post office know of the death and forward all of your loved one’s mail to your home. This will stop mail from attracting attention and alert any burglars to an empty house and it will let you know of any subscriptions and accounts that you will have to cancel.

Before the Funeral

There are a number of things that you have to do before the funeral as well. We’ll outline them for you here.

Veteran Arrangements

There are many things that make the funeral service for a veteran different than others. You could receive assistance for the funeral, burial plot, or other things. Call the US Department of Veterans Affairs to learn about these benefits.

After the Funeral

After the funeral, there is still more to do. This is where most of the legal and financial business must be taken care of.

Duplicate Death Certificates

There are many tasks ahead that will require proof of death via a death certificate. You could need as many as a dozen of them on hand. You can order them through the vital statistics office in the state that your loved one died in.

Notify Social Security

The funeral director usually lets Social Security know that your loved one passed away. If not, you need to call your local office to let them know.

Any payments your loved one received will need to stop, otherwise, you’ll have to deal with a complicated repayment system. Sometimes, you might have to return a payment made even in the month of death.

If your loved one has surviving children or a spouse, as about their eligibility for benefits.

Take Care of Medicare

Social Security will let the Medicare program know that your loved one has died. However, if they’re in the Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage, Medicare Advantage plan, or had a Medigap policy, you will have to reach out to let these people know to cancel the insurance.

Employment Benefits

If your loved one worked until they died, contact the employer to learn about how to handle the pension plan, credit unions, and any union death benefits. Keep a few copies of the death certificate on hand for this.

If they had employer-based health insurance, make sure that the employer contacts them to stop the benefits.

Meet With an Attorney

Whoever is in charge as the executor of the will needs to select a probate attorney. You can get recommendations from friends and family or search for one online.

Getting a lawyer can help you deal with the more difficult end of life business. Probate court helps figure out the will and dividing up assets.

There might be an unfortunate need for a different kind of attorney as well. If your loved one died under suspicious circumstances, a lawyer like one at Jacoby & Meyers will be able to help you navigate the muddy waters of a wrongful death claim.

Make a List of Bills

You’ll have to create a list of all of the deceased bills and give that list to the executor or estate administrator. Someone will have to continue to pay these bills on time. Don’t forget to include the mortgage payments.

Notify Banks

This job is a lot easier if the deceased left behind a list of accounts and passwords, however, you can still access accounts with a death certificate if they didn’t. Check for a safety deposit box and get a court order, if necessary.

Close Credit Cards

Make sure to keep an eye on any mail that your loved one receives. Take note of all creditors and call their customer service number. Let them know that you want to close the account of a deceased loved one.

They will ask for a copy of the death certificate or for you to send the document through registered mail.

Make sure you ask for them to waive any interest or fees after the date of death and keep records of any outstanding debts.

You should also provide the three major credit bureaus about the death of your loved one. Send them a record of the death so they flag the account.

Other Subscriptions

You should also consider canceling their driver’s license, email, social media, and memberships. Doing all of these things will help to prevent identity theft.

What to do When a Loved One Dies

It’s hard to know exactly what to do when a loved one dies. Aside from the grief and pain you experience, you are met with a mountain of work that will only drudge up sensitive feelings.

However, it’s important that you don’t let it slide by without taking care of it.

It’s very important that you take care of your loved one’s end of life affairs.


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