WHAT TO DO WHEN A LOVED ONE DIES: AN ATTORNEY-RECOMMENDED CHECKLIST
What Do You Need to Do When a Loved One Dies?
When a loved one passes, we’re often left with more than grief. We also need to settle all of their affairs including both personal and legal matters. Understanding the legal necessities of settling a deceased loved one’s affairs is difficult enough with a clear head. But, when you’re also dealing with the grief of losing a loved one, you need help.
So, here is our recommended checklist for what you need to do when a loved one dies:
Contact relatives and friends
When ready, call to alert other family members of your loss. Also ask family and friends to spread the word by notifying others connected to the deceased. When appropriate post an announcement about the death on all your social media accounts and if you have access, also on the deceased person’s account.
Within a few days after the death, contact the funeral home of choice. Look for paperwork to find out what funeral home was decided on, whether cremation or burial service was chosen and if it was prepaid. If not, you will need to find a funeral home. This is where close family is helpful. It’s comforting to have support in the decision making. Especially when grieving. Their input will help you in the decision process.
Request 10 death certificate copies
You can request a death certificate from the funeral home director typically but may also be obtained from the city or town clerk of the municipality where the death occurred. When requesting a death certificate from the city or town clerk, the payment of an associated fee will be required.
The city or town clerk then reviews the information provided and issues a death certificate. When you initially request a death certificate, also request at least ten copies as you will need them for other tasks such as settling the deceased’s estate.
Find the will and all financial and asset documents
After you make the necessary funeral, burial, or cremation arrangements and are ready, start locating all financial and asset-related documents. This includes the deceased’s will, bank account information, house deeds, car titles, and any other documents you may need.
Once you find the will, you can also find the executor. The person with legal priority is the person named in the will to serve as personal representative or executor.
If the deceased did not have a will, the person with legal priority is the surviving spouse. If the decedent was not married when they died, the decedent’s heirs have legal priority. Massachusetts follows intestate succession laws.
Provide notice to necessary institutions
With the deceased’s financial and asset documents found, you can start providing notice of the deceased’s passing to necessary institutions. You must inform their bank, employer, and the Social Security Administration. It is also important to notify any insurance companies that provide insurance to the decedent, such as for homeowner or liability insurance.
Contact an estate planning lawyer
Dealing with the grief of losing a loved one is difficult enough as it is. The last thing you want to worry about is the paperwork related to their passing. So, reach out to an estate planning lawyer you trust. They can help you fill out all of the legal forms of a loved one passing and guide you through all legal proceedings.