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Coping with the Sudden Impact of a Loved One’s Death

On Behalf of | Sep 20, 2023 | Firm News

The sudden death of a loved one raises many different emotions, questions, and even potentially challenges. It can be difficult enough to navigate the process of grief, but it is also hard to determine all of the action steps that must be taken to tie up their affairs and for legal compliance. The early days have many practical steps that should be taken as soon as possible.

Get a Death Certificate

Immediately after someone passes away, get a legal pronouncement of death or death certificate. This crucial piece of paperwork will be requested by numerous different organizations, and multiple copies should be kept on hand by the person who ends up as the estate administrator.

The administrator will need the certificate of death and the copy of any will in order to submit this to probate in most states. You cannot plan a funeral or carry out many of the other legal affairs for the deceased without a death certificate, stating the formal declaration of death.

Notify Others

Family members, friends, and the loved one’s employer need to be notified as soon as possible to inform them of the passing. You may also post about this on your social media, or if you have access to the deceased person’s account, theirs as well. Payroll matters and workload need to be addressed immediately by any employer, so make this one of the early phone calls.

Find or Make Funeral and Burial Plans

In the immediate hours and days after a loved one’s death, there are multiple questions that must be addressed regarding their funeral, memorial, or cremation planning. Locate these important documents as quickly as possible to carry out scheduling of these events.

If these documents do not exist and no formal instructions have been left or services prepaid, family members will need to make the decision about how to handle the situation. You may also need to communicate with other organizations such as a religious group or fraternal organization, or the Veterans Administration in the event that there may be assistance for funeral services.

These services may help honor your loved one’s wishes and may also be an important opportunity for family and friends to gather and receive closure.

Secure the Property

Any home or other real estate owned by the deceased should be properly secured as soon as possible. Unfortunately, many criminals watch the obituary section of the newspapers to learn which properties may be open and unattended. This is particularly true if the loved one was receiving pain medication as part of end of life or cancer treatment.

If needed, change the locks or install security cameras for basic safety. You’ll also need to notify the post office about where to redeliver the mail. Any valuables inside the home should be locked up and care determined for pets.

Locate the Will

If possible, locate a will created by your loved one. You may even communicate with any estate planning attorneys in the area to determine if they have copies of a will. If a will does not exist, your state’s intestate succession laws will determine what happens to the person’s property.

Advance planning can cover many of the most important questions related to the probate administration process. You can greatly reduce the stress of your loved ones by taking proactive steps with the help of a qualified estate planning lawyer.