Consumer Reports’ article, titled “What to Do When a Loved One Dies,” outlines some good advice to keep a loved one’s death from becoming even more painful.
Here is what you and your family should do right away:
- Obtain a legal pronouncement of death. If a doctor is not present, and the individual dies at home under hospice care, call the hospice nurse. He or she can declare the death and help facilitate the transport of the body. If the person dies at home unexpectedly without hospice care, call 911. If the person has a DNR or do-not-resuscitate document, show it to the first responders.
- Make the arrangements for transportation of the body. If no autopsy is required, the body can be released to a mortuary or crematorium.
- Notify the person’s physician or the county coroner.
- Notify family and friends.
- Make arrangements for the care of dependents and pets.
- Contact the person’s employer (if applicable). Ask for information concerning benefits and any pay due, as well as if there was a life-insurance policy through the company.
Within a Few Days After Death
After some of the dust has settled, and you are able to think clearly and make some bigger decisions, address the following:
- Arrange for funeral and burial or cremation. See if the individual had a prepaid burial plan. Take a friend or family member with you to the mortuary. You should also prepare an obituary.
- Determine if there are burial benefits. If the person was in the military or was a member of a fraternal or religious group, contact that organization because it may have burial benefits or conduct funeral services. A local VFW or American Legion may provide an honor guard, if requested.
- Secure the home. Make sure there is security or someone to keep an eye on the individual’s home. Have the phone forwarded, collect mail, throw food out, water plants and keep minimal heat on to keep pipes from freezing in a colder climate’s winter months.
Up to 10 Days After Death
Here is the next set of items to do in the 10 days after a loved one passes:
- Get copies of the death certificate. These are usually obtained from the funeral home. Get multiple copies because you will need them for banks, government agencies and insurance companies.
- Present the will to the appropriate government office for probate.
- Contact the following:
- An experienced estate planning attorney;
- The life insurance company;
- The Social Security Administration;
- Agency providing pension services, to stop monthly checks and get claim forms;
- Utility companies, to change or stop service;
- The U.S. Postal Service;
- The IRS, credit-reporting agencies and the DMV to prevent identity theft; and
- Social media companies to memorialize or remove an account.
Reference: Consumer Reports (Jan. 5, 2021) “What to Do When a Loved One Dies”
Sims & Campbell, LLC – Annapolis and Towson Estate Planning Attorneys