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Upon the death of a loved one, despite all the emotions and grief, there are logistical and practical concerns needed to be taken care of by the family. The following checklist details some possible immediate actions needed to be taken by the family members of the deceased in the first few days and weeks of loss.
Carson’s Village Advocates are able to provide direct assistance during those first few days after a loss: they can help you find a funeral home, locate funding if you are unable to pay for the funeral, find a local grief therapist, and much more. All of Carson’s Village’s services are free — it is our goal to hold your hand through the first few days after a loss so carrying out the logistics of the funeral process does not rest entirely on your shoulders. Carson’s Village is here to help you carry that weight. To find an Advocate, click here.
If you have already contacted Carson’s Village Support services, review this document to see the next steps, but wait for your advocate to contact you before making any large decisions.
Immediately after Death
Obtain the legal pronouncement of death
Also called the declaration of death, this document should be given to the family by the medical professional (usually the medical examiner) or the funeral home upon the proclamation of death. This document will allow you to access bank and financial accounts, start probate and tend to many other personal affairs.
Notify immediate family and friends
Making those close to your loved one know of their passing is an important step to ensure all immediate parties understand what happened. Word will travel fast, and it is important to ensure that parties such as family, friends, and employers hear the news from a trusted source.
Search for any existing end-of-life plans
Understanding your loved one’s wishes for their final arrangements is an important factor in your planning process. In some cases, the deceased will leave behind a letter instructing their intended final arrangements.
In lieu of extant plans, begin with the basics such as if they were an organ donor, the transporting of the body, finding a casket, and selecting a funeral home. Then, you can think further into if they would prefer having a wake or memorial service, if they wanted an open casket, or if they wanted to be cremated.
Within The First Couple of Days
Make Funeral Arrangements
Once the basics have been taken care of for end-of-life plans, begin searching for any prepaid burial arrangements at the funeral home and for any pre-selected burial plots. If not, be sure to research your options for the funeral. Do not hesitate to involve family and friends in this process, as there are many moving parts to planning the funeral.
For more information on the planning of the funeral see Carson’s Village’s Timeline of Events: Planning A Funeral
Care for any pets or children
Particularly for children, finding the estate plans to deal with any remaining descendants in the care of your loved one is essential. For pets, deciding amongst family members the best solution is appropriate.
Manage Personal Assets and Business
Ensure that the deceased’s property is cared for and secured, particularly any valuable personal assets. Think through the day-to-day occurrences your loved one will no longer perform. For example, forward their mail to yourself or another family member, take out any trash and bring in newspapers.
Additionally, follow up with their employer about any paychecks, benefits, or life insurance they were enrolled in.
Notify any other relevant parties
After securing the immediate concerns, notify any other parties of their death. For personal relationships, be sure to inform any frequent acquaintances, professional relationships, and old friends of their passing.
The Weeks following
Secure death certificate
The funeral home or vital statistics office will provide you with this document and it is recommended to get multiple copies of the death certificate as these will be used to deal with important accounts like bank accounts, life insurance, and government agencies.
Settle the Estate
This process should be undertaken by the executor of the estate found in the deceased’s last will and testament. The executor will be in charge of dealing with any remaining bills and debts as well. Executing the estate can vary incredibly depending on the specificity of the will and the complexity of the estate. For example, this can entail meeting with a trusts/estates attorney, finding a CPA, and taking a will to probate.
Notify Administrative Organizations of Death
You will need to notify the below organizations of a loved one passing via sending of the death certificate or other administrative paperwork.
- Social Security Administration
- Passport office
- Life Insurance
- Any Financial Accounts (brokerages, savings institutions, etc.)
- Cancel Driver’s License
- Update Voter Registration