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.