daughter comforting mother

Checklist: What to Do When A Loved One Dies

When a loved one dies, you might feel overwhelmed with grief. It can be extremely difficult to keep up with everything that needs to be done to get things in order.

Having a checklist can help. Here, you’ll find tasks that need to be done immediately after the death; tasks to be done within a few days; and tasks to be done within two weeks. This can help you work through everything that needs to happen while still taking the space you need to process your grief.

Here’s a checklist for after the death of a parent or other loved one.

To Start Immediately 

Get Support

When a loved one dies, your immediate priority should be to get the support you need. Accept your emotions and realize that however you feel is okay. Everyone processes loss and grief differently. Give yourself time to mourn and grieve.

Check on your family, friends, or anyone else who knew the deceased to see how they’re doing. It’s also important to take care of your physical health during this time. Even though it might feel difficult, be sure you’re eating three meals a day and drinking plenty of water. Take any regular medications and get enough sleep. This is essential to help your body cope.

Inform Close Family and Friends

Your next point of action is to inform people about the death. Notify family first, starting with family members who had the closest relationship. Then move on to friends, coworkers, or employees.

You don’t have to undertake this job alone. Let others help you share the weight. A close family member or trusted friend can join you in making phone calls or posting on social media to share the news with others who would want to know.

Once you’ve directly notified the people who had the closest relationship with the deceased, it’s okay to use email or social media to let other acquaintances know.

Obtain Legal Pronouncement of Death

Next, you’ll need to make sure you have a legal pronouncement of death. A legal pronouncement of death can be handled by hospital staff if your loved one passed away in a hospital. However, if the person died at home, they will need to be transported to an emergency room to be declared dead.

Within A Few Days

Make Burial Plans

Make plans for a burial and funeral. Start by contacting the legal representative of the deceased. He or she will know whether the person had a plan for their funeral.

Depending on what kind of instructions your loved one left behind, you may or may not be responsible for choosing a funeral home. The funeral director will help you arrange the funeral. You also might need to decide what to do with the remains (such as burial or cremation).

Take Care of Property

While you don’t have to clean out the entire house right away, you do need to make sure the home and property of the deceased is properly taken care of. Throw away any food that could go bad and do a load of laundry; you should also remove any valuables to a safe location. If no one else is living there, lock the house, cars and any outbuildings when you leave.

If needed, find care for pets. Your loved one may have included their pet in their will. Otherwise, you will need to find a new owner. You can enlist the help of a local Humane Society if needed. For now, though, make sure the pet has a safe place to stay.

Forward Mail to Yourself

To forward all of the deceased’s mail to a different address, go to your local post office. You’ll need to present the post office with valid proof that you are the appointed executor or administrator who is authorized to manage the deceased’s mail. Then complete a Forwarding Change of Address order.

Within Two Weeks

Obtain Certified Death Certificates

A death certificate is a legal document that lists the date, location, and cause of a person’s death. You’ll need at least 10 copies of the death certificate so you can perform tasks such as:

In some states, you must be an immediate family member to access a death certificate. In other states, these certificates are public domain and anyone can get them.

To order copies of a death certificate, contact the county or state vital records office in the place where the death occurred. They will guide you through the process.

Cancel Services

The next step to getting your loved one’s affairs in order is to cancel any services that are no longer needed. These might include:

  • Phone
  • WiFi
  • Car insurance
  • Utilities
  • Subscriptions
  • Credit cards
  • Prescriptions

Make sure you have any information on hand that you might need, such as the Social Security Number of the deceased or a copy of the most recent bill.

Find Will and Executor

The executor, or the party executing the will, is named in the will of the deceased. The executor will need to take the will to probate court to complete the process of paying any debts and transferring all assets. Locate the will by reaching out to the deceased person’s estate attorney or using the searchable databases provided by U.S. courts.

Handle Digital Assets

Digital assets are defined as any belongings that are in a digital format. These might be things like websites, financial accounts, or personal information that is stored digitally. It’s important to take care of these assets just like you take care of material possessions.

You might want to delete your loved one’s social media accounts. Or opt to turn them into memorial pages so family and friends can still access the photos and memories long-term. You’ll need to shut down any email accounts to prevent identity theft and fraud.

End of Life Planning

There’s a lot to handle when a loved one dies, and it’s difficult to complete these tasks when you’re struggling with your own grief. Make things as easy as possible for your own family and friends by making your wishes clear before you pass. A Bankers Life insurance agent would be happy to discuss life insurance and other helpful financial tips with you. Contact us today to learn more.