When you’re confronted with the loss of a loved one, the emotional toll can be overwhelming. Add to that the numerous responsibilities that come your way, and the situation can seem insurmountable.
Nevertheless, there’s a series of vital steps you must follow to ensure you are handling your loved one’s affairs respectfully and legally. Whether the death occurs at home or elsewhere, during the day or at night, these first steps provide a framework for navigating this challenging time.
1.) Secure the Death Certificate
Getting a death certificate is your first administrative task. This certificate serves as the formal documentation needed for various legal and financial processes, such as initiating probate or claiming life insurance. Typically, you should aim to secure this within days of the death. The timeframe varies by state, so consult your local laws.
2.) Inform the Right People In the Right Order
In this digital age, news can travel fast, often too fast. It’s essential that you inform close family and friends before the news leaks on social media platforms. From family to employers to old friends, create a notification list and stick to it.
3.) Contact Authorities and Organizations
Your next calls are to government bodies and companies that had financial or business relations with the deceased. Among these are the Social Security office, banks, and insurance companies. Keep in mind that you’ll likely need the death certificate for these communications.
4.) Decide on the Body Disposal Method
Your loved one may have expressed wishes for their bodily remains in an estate plan or verbally. This could range from traditional burial to cremation. Funeral homes offer various services, and religious leaders can help guide you through the planning process.
5.) Attend to Dependent Family and Pets
If there are minors or pets involved, consult the deceased’s estate plans for guidance on guardianship arrangements. If these documents are missing or incomplete, immediate action is necessary, possibly involving legal intervention.
6.) Secure Assets and Take Care of Immediate Logistics
Beyond locking up property and cars, consider minor yet crucial tasks like taking out the garbage or forwarding the mail. Overlooked details can become significant problems later on.
7.) Honor the Deceased’s Wishes
By this point, you should have located the will or any other estate planning documents. These will guide you in planning a memorial service that respects the deceased’s wishes. A growing trend is the inclusion of a digital estate plan that outlines how to handle online assets and profiles.
8.) Administer the Estate
The final stage involves settling all estate matters. This includes engaging with beneficiaries, determining the need for probate, and distributing assets as per the will or trust.
Complete Our Worksheet
We have a treasure trove of information on this website that we offer to our visitors, and you can access any or all of it at any time. One of the resources that we highly recommend is our estate planning worksheet.
You will come away with a far better understanding of the process if you take the time to go through it, and you can visit our Worksheet Access Page to get started.
Attend a Complimentary Learning Event!
If you want to take a more significant step, come out and meet us in person. We conduct seminars on an ongoing basis at beautiful locations in our service areas. There is no admission charge, and you can see the dates and obtain more information if you visit our Seminar Schedule Page.
Need Help Now?
Our doors are open if you are ready to work with a Glastonbury or Westport, CT estate planning lawyer to develop a plan. You can send us a message to request a consultation appointment, and we can be reached by phone at 860-548-1000.
- Estate Planning for Millennials: The Right Time Is Now - February 20, 2024
- VA Veterans Pension: A Guide for Seniors and Disabled Wartime Veterans - February 1, 2024
- Navigating the Crossroads: Estate Planning After Divorce - January 16, 2024