Any death – sudden or expected – is a trying time both emotionally and financially. If you are responsible for overseeing the next steps to put someone to final rest, here are some simple ways to work your way through the process to ensure that every detail is taken care of when someone close to you dies.
Informing & coping with grief
Everyone handles grief differently and has a different reaction to loss. While there are many ways to grieve, you don’t have to be alone throughout this process. Informing friends and family is a way to share the burden of loss.
The funeral or memorial is part of the grieving process. It’s possible that the deceased created a funeral plan while still alive. Contact the deceased’s legal representative, if they had one, to see if a plan exists.
If there is no funeral plan, reach out to a funeral home and talk to the funeral director about the type and length of service you’d like to have. They will be able to guide you through the process. This is also a time to find a family member or friend who can write an obituary.
You will also need an official notice of death from the coroner: this document will support some of the actions you have to take moving forward.
Services & closing accounts
You’ll want to start securing the deceased’s assets and property immediately. If they lived alone, visiting their home to lock doors and windows, check on pets, and secure any valuables is a good first step. You should also inform the deceased’s employer, if they have one.
You’ll also want to set up mail forwarding and start collecting any financial documents, including monthly bills, life insurance policies, or assets. This time of collecting financial documents is known as marshalling the assets, which can take weeks or months to complete.
Finalizing legal & financial details
Navigating finances after a death can be complex. Finding a trust and estate lawyer can help you navigate the steps the family will take to finalize finances.
The decedent’s accountant, lawyers, financial advisors or any other professionals who dealt with their money should be able to help with this process.
Share the death certificate with the Social Security Administration, the three major credit bureaus, and with any banks that held accounts held in their name.
If they had a life insurance policy, whether this is an active term life policy or permanent life insurance policy (like a universal life insurance policy or whole life insurance policy), it will pay out a death benefit to the policy’s beneficiaries.
Final updates will include closing or setting up memorial accounts across social media, closing credit and banking accounts, and updating voting registration. While these could seem trivial details, they will prevent any fraud from occurring in the decedent’s name.
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