What to do After a Loved One Dies
The loss of a loved one is already a stressful and emotional time even without the added (and overwhelming) responsibility of closing out the person’s life.
There are many things to attend to after a parent has passed; from making arrangements to paying proper tribute and closing out bank accounts. Don’t try to handle everything by yourself if you don’t have to. This burden should not fall on anyone solely. If other people ask, ‘how they can help’, take advantage!
The loss of a loved one is difficult as is, here is a check list of what needs to be done. Hopefully this makes your life easier and provides a little relief.
What You Should Do Immediately
Contact family & friends
Be courteous and inform essential family and friends of the loved one’s passing. Technology today has made this easy. This is an excellent opportunity to comfort one another but also share pertinent information. After you notify immediate family, make a list of all the others to let know. Find contacts through email, personal accounts or social media. Contact organizations or employers the deceased belonged to if necessary.
Arrange for organ donation
This may be the last detail you want to think about, but it can help save a life or lives. Not certain of a person’s wishes? Check the driver’s license or advance health care directive (like living will or health care proxy).
Honor the deceased’s wishes
If the person has wished to donate their body to a medical school, the family must respect those wishes.
When preparing their funeral, it is important to consider:
- What did the deceased want?
- What can you afford and what’s realistic?
- What will help the family most?
“Ultimately, people need to follow their heart, mind and gut about making these decisions,” says Patrick Lynch, past president of the National Funeral Directors Association. “You have to know what will make your heart heal as best as it can.”
Choose a funeral home
Has there been conversation about arrangements? No? Do some research. Check with people who’ve experienced this before.
Secure their property
Do they have a home or vehicle? If so, is the car parked in a secure and legal area? Is the home locked or will it be vacant? Do they have a pet? If so, who can care for the pet until permanent arrangements are made?
Notify the post office
Forward their mail and prevent it from accumulating. Using mail will become very valuable and help with canceling subscriptions, creditors and other accounts.
Need To Do Before the Funeral
Prepare an obituary
You might want to write your own or the funeral home may offer this service. If you want to publish it in a newspaper, check on rates and submission guidelines. Leave out important details like date of birth that an identity thief could use.
Meet with the director of the funeral or memorial service
It is best to use instructions your loved one might have left or previous discussions to guide the many decisions to be made.
- Will the body be buried or cremated?
- Is there a casket, and if so, will it be opened or closed?
- If the body is cremated, what will you do with the ashes?
- Where is the burial site?
- Do you need a headstone?
- Are there religious traditions to be respected?
- Will there be contributions to a charity in lieu of flowers?
Is the deceased a veteran?
It is important to pay respect to our veterans. Veterans are entitled to an array of benefits and honored with special service. Veteran benefits such as assistance with the funeral, burial plot or honoring the vet properly are available.
You may require help from family and friends to serve as pallbearers, create or design the funeral program, the eulogy, preparing meals, care for children or pets, and/or any loose ends or logistics.
Organize a post-funeral gathering or wake
This is intended for friends and family to come together after the funeral to remember the loved one. Usually they are held at the church, banquet hall or someone’s house. Enlist help from friends and relatives to plan.
Spread the word of the funeral
Use your contact list and help of others to spread the word of the arrangements made.
Do you require financial assistance for the funeral or burial?
A number of resources may be available to help financially. Some include a church, union or organizations belonged to. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a group for help.
Keep track of well-wishers
Make an ongoing list of who sends cards, flowers, donations, etc. to acknowledge them later.
To Do After the Funeral
Death records are needed to complete a number of upcoming tasks. Your funeral director may help or they can be ordered from the vital statistics office.
Contact Social Security
This is another thing likely handled by the funeral director. If not, contact the local social security office 1-800-772-1213 to notify them of your loved one’s death. If the deceased was receiving benefits, this will save you from complicated repayments.
Stop Medicare or health insurance
Contact the plan or company to end coverage. Phone numbers should be provided on each plan membership card to cancel the insurance.
Contact other insurance companies
Does your loved one have life insurance? Are there other existing insurance providers to terminate: homeowner’s, automobile, and so forth? Appropriate claim forms will need to be filed. You will need policy numbers and death certificate for many of these.
Make a list of important bills (mortgage payments)
Figure our which bills need to be paid promptly and/or share the list with the executor or estate administrator for help.
Look into employer benefits
If the deceased was working, contact the employer for information on pension plan, credit unions and/or union death benefits.
Meet with a probate attorney
The probate process starts with an inventory of all assets (personal property, bank accounts, house, car, furniture, jewelry, etc.) which will need to be filed in the probate court.
Contact financial advisers, stockbrokers, etc.
Determine the beneficiary on these accounts and how they get access. Is it simple filing or do you need an executor involved?
Close bank accounts and credit cards
Notify credit reporting agencies and BMV
This will minimize the risk of identity theft and remove the deceased’s name from records.
Death Certificates (maybe 10+)
Social Security card
Birth certificates for any children
Deeds and titles to property
Automobile title and registration papers
Honorable discharge papers for a veteran and/or VA Claim number
Recent income tax forms and W-2 forms
Loan and installment payment books and contracts
Dr. Kay got her medical education in Brazil.
Dr. Kay also has a master degree in Film and Television from UCLA and has been an adviser for medical television shows.
Dr. Kay is very active in the Health Industry. She is a member of the American Board of Home Care, the National Association of Home Care, CAHSAH, California Association of Health Services at Home. She co-chairs the education committee for the Down with Falls Coalition. Dr. Kay is in the speaker’s bureau for the coalition helping educate health care professionals and the community on fall risks, diabetes, adverse drug reaction, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, dehydration and nutrition, etc…. for older adults.
Dr. Kay was nominated by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) as the Remarkable Woman of 2008.
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