Where to start when a loved one dies

Clients often ask me what to do first when a loved one dies. The client is overwhelmed and needs a clear plan of what to do next. Here is a quick checklist to follow to help you in a time of distress. It does not replace the need to consult with you attorney, it only helps to keep you on the path.

 Notify close family members and friends, including the love one’s minister

 Make an appointment with the funeral home and arrange funeral, burial, cremation, and memorial services (request several death certificates)

 Notify the loved one’s employer, if any

 Contract your employer and make arrangements for bereavement leave

 Locate important legal documents including insurance policies

 After the funeral and when you have death certificates in hand, visit the attorney

 Contact the loved one’s financial advisor, labor union, professional organizations, and past employers (regarding pension plans and IRAs)

 Report the death to the Social Security office

 Notify credit card companies

 Notify banks and other financial institutions to re-title or distribute accounts

 Notify utility companies and local police (to drive by loved one’s home until sold)

 Contact mortgage company

 File federal and state taxes for loved one

Additionally, when visiting with your attorney you will need to bring important documents with you such as the death certificate, trust documents, will, bank statements, mortgage papers, insurance policies, most recent IRA statements, most recent credit card statement, and titles to vehicles.

After the death of a loved one, you yourself will likely need to reevaluate your estate plan, making sure you have all the necessary documents in place. Update your beneficiary designations on your IRAs and life insurance policies and update your insurance needs.