What To Do When a Loved One Dies
The loss of a loved one is a stressful time. It can be very difficult to know or remember what to do next. As the person who is responsible for managing the affairs of your loved one you may find it helpful to have a checklist of some important issues.
The hospital or hospice medical personnel will guide you through the process immediately following your loved one's death. It is important to know which funeral home or mortuary you want them to call. If your loved one passes away at home, call the paramedics so they can assist you.
The next step is to contact friends and family members. Often the process of calling others and notifying them of the death is emotionally draining and traumatic. You may choose to ask a close friend to make the calls. To carry out this task efficiently, give the designated person a prepared list of names and contact information. You may also want to include their relationship to the deceased. Other tasks you can delegate to others include: taking care of pets, answering the phone, locating and organizing important documents, collecting and bundling mail.
Let your loved one's religious leader know about the death and any wishes your loved one had for final services.
If your loved one indicated their final wishes, contact the funeral home or mortuary they chose. The professional staff will be able to guide you through the decision-making process at this stressful time. However, you will need to determine the disposition of the remains of the deceased and let the proper person know of your decision.
You will also need a death certificate. The attending physician, medical examiner or a registered nurse employed by the hospice will complete and sign the death certificate. You will need certified copies of the death certificate to send to insurance companies.
After the immediate steps have been taken and some time has passed, you need to start gathering documents and organizing your loved one's possessions. Here is a list of some of the documents you will need in the future:
- Bank Account Information – If the account is not in your name, you will need a Probate/Succession attorney can assist you in determining how to transfer those funds to your possession.
- Last Will and Testament – if there is a last will and testament a Succession needs to be filed and the items distributed as your loved one wishes
- A List of Creditors – Creditors must be called to inform them of the death. The estate as a whole is responsible for any outstanding balances. You are not personally liable for the debt. If the estate does not have the funds to pay a creditor, inform them.
- Telephone, Gas, Electricity and Cable Bills – Utility bills must continue to be paid until you choose to discontinue using them.
- Mail – Mail will be a good indicator of any creditors, insurance or investment companies you may need to contact.
- Titles and insurance – Eventually the titles and insurance coverage of automobiles, motorcycles or boats will need to be changed.
- Homeowner's Insurance -The policy language will determine how you proceed
- A List of Personal Property – when you and other family members are ready, you can begin to go through and distribute your loved one's personal items that they did not designate in a Last Will and Testament.
Here is a list of additional documents:
- Safe Deposit Agreements (and the key(s)
- Funeral and Burial Plans
- Marriage License/Marital Agreements/Divorce Papers
- Pension, IRA and other retirement benefit statements
- Irrevocable or Revocable Trust Documents
- Life Insurance policies or statements
- Birth and Death Certificates
- Military records and discharge papers
- Bank statements, checkbook and checkbook register
- Motor vehicle titles
- Mortgage records
- Stock and Bond certificates
- Health Insurance
The documents in the checklist above should be brought to your Succession/ Probate Attorney when you begin the Succession process. Your Baton Rouge attorney can help you determine what type of Succession you must open to transfer possession of your loved one's estate. In addition, your attorney can guide you through the process of disposition of the estate and provide you with the knowledge of what to do and when during this difficult time.