What to Do When a Loved One Dies – 2023 Update
When a loved one dies, the process of getting all the paperwork and planning the funeral service can be overwhelming (especially for the person left in charge). A loved one’s death can be confusing and emotional. This can cloud people’s thinking, making funeral planning difficult.
An unexpected death can leave you unprepared to handle the logistics of managing the estate of a loved one and planning for their funeral. There are also many issues that you need to navigate during this challenging time, including some critical financial matters that need your immediate attention.
We prepared what to do when someone dies checklist to help you decide before and after the funeral.
This checklist will tell you what to do during this difficult time. It covers what to do after the death of your loved one and in the days and weeks following the death. Our checklist will guide you from making the first phone call, making the funeral arrangements, and preparing documents that you need to file and/or obtain.
FOR EASIER NAVIGATION:
- Steps To Do When A Loved One Dies
- What To Do Immediately After Death
- What To Do Within A Few Days After Death
- What To Do Up To 10 Days After Death
- How Can We Help You?
Steps To Do When A Loved One Dies
Here’s a checklist to guide you on what needs to be done when a loved one dies.
What To Do Immediately After Death
#1 – Get legal certification of Death
When a loved one dies, have the death officially pronounced by someone in authority, such as a doctor, an emergency medical technician, nursing facility, hospice nurse, coroner, or medical examiner. This person will fill out the forms certifying death’s time, cause, and place.
These steps will help the official death certificate be prepared. The death certificate is necessary for many reasons, including life insurance, benefits, and financial and property issues.
What to do when someone dies at home?
- Call the hospice nurse to declare death if your loved one died at home under hospice care.
- If your loved died at home without hospice care, call 911 and show them the do-not-resuscitate document if you have it. The paramedics will start emergency procedures without this document, except when the body is pronounced dead. They may also take the body to the emergency room for a doctor to make the declaration.
- Contact the local coroner’s office if you live in a rural area with no emergency services.
Once the death is pronounced, you can work with the funeral director to obtain the actual death certificate.
#2 – Arrange for organ donation.
If your loved one has in the event of my death checklist and specifically indicate organ donation. This process must be done immediately at the time of death to be able to harvest the organs as soon as possible. If your loved one died in a hospital, ask a nurse to help you make arrangements. Call the nearest hospital if your loved one passed away in a nursing home or hospice.
#3 – Notify close family and friends.
Contact immediate family members. Find contacts through an email account, personal telephone books, and social media. You can give comfort and ask for help with the important decision you must make.
Notify close friends. Make a list and put as many people on it as you can. Ask them to contact other family members and friends. You can also contact a Minister, pastor, or priest.
#4 – Notify the funeral home to arrange for transportation of the body.
Call the funeral home to arrange the transportation of the body. A mortuary can pick up the body if an autopsy is not needed. Make the arrangements as soon as your family is ready.
They might call the funeral home if the death occurred in a hospital or nursing facility. If your loved one died at home, you need to contact the funeral home directly or ask a friend or family member to do that for you.
Check if your loved one has the last instructions for my survivors. If your loved one preselected a funeral home or has prepaid for the funeral service, you should call that funeral home. If no funeral home is selected, research which funeral home in your area would best serve your family’s needs. Ask a friend or relative for a recommendation. If you have a church, ask the minister for suggestions.
Spend time researching your options when selecting a funeral home. The cost will vary from one funeral home to another, depending on the service they provide. Ask the funeral homes for pricing over the phone, which will make researching prices much easier.
#5 – Meet with the funeral director who will handle the funeral
Honor your loved one’s wishes by following their instructions regarding the kind of funeral they want. You can also use your family discussions to guide you on the decisions that must be made.
- Do religious traditions need to be respected?
- Which would you prefer, embalming or cremation?
- Should it be a closed or open casket?
- If you choose cremation, what will be the body’s final disposition?
- Instead of flowers, will there be charity contributions?
- Where will you bury the remains?
#6 – Handle care of dependents and pets
Ask someone to look after your loved ones’ homes and pets. Lock the house and vehicle. Make sure to park the car in a secure and legal area. Ask someone to look after the house to prevent theft. If the house is vacant, notify the landlord, property manager, and police.
Ask a relative or friend to keep an eye on the house, answer the phone, throw all perishable food out, collect mail, and water the plants. Arrange for pet care until you make the necessary arrangements.
#7 – Call the person’s employer
Call your loved one’s employer if he is working. Also, request information about company benefits, including life insurance, and if there are any outstanding payments due that your loved one is entitled to.
What To Do Within A Few Days After Death
#1 – Arrange for funeral and burial or cremation
Contact the funeral director and the people who will help you arrange the service. Factors to consider in arranging the funeral:
- Your loved ones’ wishes
- What you can afford,
- What will help the family the most
#2 – Search the person’s documents
Search your loved one’s papers to find out if there was a prepaid funeral plan. Locate the will, birth certificate, Social Security information, life insurance or burial insurance policies, financial documents, and marriage and divorce certificates.
#3 – Prepare an obituary
Ask the funeral director if obituary writing is part of their service. If not, you need to write one. When is the obituary published? If you publish the obituary in the newspaper, check on their rates, deadline, and guidelines for submission. Don’t include the birthday of your loved one to prevent identity theft.
#4 – Let people know about the service
If the date and time for the funeral and burial are set, let your friends and relatives know about it. Give them the address to send flowers, sympathy cards, or donations.
#5 – Organize the funeral or wake
Organize the wake according to your tradition. The wake can be held at the funeral home, church, banquet hall, or relatives’ house. Enlist the help of your relatives and friends to plan.
If your loved one was in the military, contact the Veterans Administration. They may have burial benefits or conduct funeral services. Ask if you can get assistance with the funeral, burial plot, or other benefits. Call Veterans Affairs at 1-800-827-1000 to inquire about veteran’s survivor benefits.
#6 – Determine if you need help or financial assistance for the funeral and burial.
You can get help from different organizations, including a fraternal organization, union, or church to which your loved one belonged. Send an email or call your local group for help.
What To Do Up To 10 Days After Death
#1 – Obtain death certificates
Obtain death certificates. Ask the funeral director to help you order death certificates from the vital statistics office in the state where the death occurred. Get multiple copies to complete future tasks. Each death certificate can cost around $10 or $20.
#2 – Meet with the probate attorney
What to do when a parent dies, and you are the executor?
Get a recommendation from family and friends to get a lawyer. Meet the probate attorney to seek legal and financial advice. If you’re the executor of the will, you and your lawyer must take the will to the probate court for admission. Inventory of all the assets is the start of the probate process.
#3 – Notify life insurance companies
If your loved one had life insurance or burial insurance, call the life insurance agent to get claim forms. You need to contact the insurance company as soon as possible to start the claim process. Provide a death certificate with the insurance policy numbers. You could take days to weeks to get the life insurance payout.
#4 – Notify local Social Security office
How to report a death to Medicare and Social Security?
Notify Social Security when someone dies by calling your local office or Social Security at 800-772-1213. If your loved one is receiving benefits, ask them to stop payments and return the payment given for the month of death. Ask about applicable survivor benefits and the one-time payment of $255.
#5 – Notify the bank and mortgage companies
Notifying the bank of death and the mortgage companies; Take the death certificates to the bank and ask for assistance. If you have joint bank accounts, change the ownership. If your loved one has a safe deposit box and you don’t have the key, you will need a court order to open the safe deposit box.
#6 – Look into employment benefits
If your loved one is working, contact his employer to know about benefits such as pension plans and credit union benefits. You need to present a death certificate to make each claim.
Accounts to cancel when a loved one dies:
#7 – Cancel utility companies and postal services
Here are some accounts to cancel when a loved one dies. Ask the utility companies and postal service to stop or forward mail. Use the forward mail option to prevent accumulating mail to the address. Check the mail about creditors, subscriptions, and other accounts you have to cancel. Changing names on utilities after death should be coordinated with the company.
#8 – Close credit card accounts
Contact customer service on each credit card and ask them to close the account due to the death of your loved one. Give a copy of the death certificate to enable the company to have the account closed. Notify the estate executor if the agent refused to waive interest or fees because of outstanding debts.
#9 – Notify credit reporting agencies
When a loved one dies, call the credit reporting agencies such as TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian must be given a copy of the death certificate to flag your loved one’s account and avoid identity theft. After 4-6 weeks, check the account again to ensure no fraudulent accounts are opened in your loved one’s name.
#10 – Cancel driver’s license
Submit a copy of the death certificate to the state department of motor Vehicles to cancel your loved one’s driver’s license. Canceling the driver’s license will remove your loved one’s name from their records. This will prevent identity theft. Call the customer service center for instructions.
#11 – Cancel membership in organizations
When a loved one dies, you need to contact professional organizations, sororities, fraternities, or other organizations where your loved one belongs to know how to cancel your membership status.
#12 – Notify the election board
Lastly, notify the election board when a loved one dies by presenting a copy of the death certificate.
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Additional Questions & Answers On What To Do When A Loved One Dies
What to do when someone dies at home?
The first thing you should do is call 911 (unless this was a hospice-related death).
If the person dies at home and you were not with them when they died, you should:
- Call 911 (if foul play is suspected).
- Notify the person’s next of kin.
What to do when someone dies in a hospital?
The staff usually care for everything if the person dies in the hospital. You will still need to notify the person’s next of kin.
What to do when someone dies in a nursing home?
If the person dies in a nursing home, the staff do the necessary steps to notify the person’s next of kin.
What to do when someone dies in a hospice?
If the person dies in hospice, the staff will normally care for everything and notify the next of kin.
What happens after someone dies?
- An autopsy may occur if the death was unexpected or suspected foul play.
- The body is usually taken to the coroner’s office or funeral home.
- A death certificate is filed.
- Arrangements are made for the funeral or cremation.
- The will is executed.
- Life insurance policies and other financial matters are handled.
What to do when a loved one dies?
Knowing what to do when a loved one dies can be difficult. You should first call the doctor if they died at home and notify the person’s next of kin. The staff usually care for everything if the death occurs in a hospital, nursing home, or hospice. After the death, the body is usually taken to the funeral home or coroner’s office. An autopsy may occur if the death was unexpected or suspected foul play. A death certificate is filed, and arrangements are made for the funeral or cremation. The will is executed, and life insurance policies and other financial matters are handled.
What do you do straight after someone dies?
The first thing you should do is call 911 unless the person has been terminally ill.
What not to do when someone dies?
- Do not try to revive the person – this could be dangerous.
- Do not touch the body if you suspect foul play.
- Do not move the body unless it is necessary.
What to say when someone dies?
When informing others of the death, it is often best to keep it simple and just say that the person has died. You do not need to go into details about the death. It is also okay to say that you do not know what happened or that you are still waiting for more information.
What not to say when someone dies?
- Do not speculate about the cause of death.
- It is often best not to say that the person is in a better place.
- It is often best not to say that it was meant to be.
What to do when a child dies?
If a child dies, the parents must notify their family and friends. They will also need to make arrangements for the funeral or cremation. The parents may want to create a memory box for the child. This includes photographs, artwork, baby clothes, and other mementos.
What is the first thing to do when a parent dies?
The first thing you should do is call 911. You will also need to notify the person’s next of kin and arrange the funeral or cremation.
What to do when a spouse dies?
When a spouse dies, you need to notify their family and friends. You will also need to make arrangements for the funeral or cremation. If you have children, you need to talk to them about what has happened.
What to do when a parent dies, and you are the executor?
If you are the executor of a parent’s will, you must notify the person’s next of kin and arrange the funeral or cremation. You will also need to handle the person’s financial affairs and distribute their assets according to the terms of the will.
What are your rights when a parent dies?
When a parent dies, you have the right to:
- Be notified of the death.
- Handle the person’s financial affairs.
- Distribute the person’s assets according to the terms of the will.
How can you register the death of a loved one?
You can register the death of a loved one by filing a death certificate.
How can you arrange the funeral?
You can arrange the funeral by contacting a funeral home.
What are the 7 stages of grief after a death?
- Shock and denial
- Pain and guilt
- Anger and bargaining
- Depression and loneliness
- The upward turn
- Reconstruction and working through
- Acceptance and hope
Is it normal to cry every day after death?
It is normal to cry every day for the first few weeks after the death of a loved one. After that, you may still cry occasionally, but it will become less and less frequent.
What do you do with clothes after someone dies?
You can donate the person’s clothes to a charity or keep them as mementos. You may also want to have a clothing swap with friends or family members who are a similar size.
What do you do with the person’s belongings after they die?
You can keep the person’s belongings as mementos or donate them to a charity. If you are the executor of the person’s will, you will need to distribute the person’s belongings according to the terms of the will.
How can I get a legal pronouncement of death?
A doctor, coroner, or medical examiner can legally pronounce death.
What should I do a few days after a loved one’s death?
A few days after a loved one’s death, you should start to think about what you need to do to settle their affairs. This includes canceling their credit cards, transferring their assets, and updating their will. You should also take some time to grieve and remember your loved one.
What happens to a bank account when someone dies?
When someone dies, their bank account will often be frozen. The person’s executor will need to transfer the assets to the beneficiaries.
Is it illegal to withdraw money from a deceased person’s account?
It is not illegal to withdraw money from a deceased person’s bank account if you are the executor of the person’s will. However, you should check with legal counsel and the bank to see if there are any withdrawal restrictions.
Do you have to tell the bank when someone dies?
Yes, you will need to notify the bank when someone dies. The person’s executor will need to handle the assets of the beneficiaries.
What happens to a joint bank account when one person dies?
When one person in a joint bank account dies, the account may be frozen. The person’s executor may need to transfer the assets to the beneficiaries.
How do you post a loved one after passing?
You must contact the postal service to have a loved one’s mail forwarded to their new address.
What do I need in order to get a death certificate?
To get a death certificate, you will need the following information:
- The name, date of birth, and place of birth of the deceased.
- The name and address of the next of kin.
- The name and address of the funeral home.
- The date, place, and cause of death.
What to expect after a loved one dies?
The first few weeks after a loved one dies can be very difficult. You may find yourself crying often and feeling overwhelmed. It is important to take care of yourself during this time. Try to eat healthy meals, get plenty of rest, and exercise regularly. Seek support from family and friends if you need it. After a few weeks, the intensity of your grief will lessen, and you will begin to adjust to your new reality.
How do I post-death news?
You should be respectful and sensitive if you are posting news about someone’s death. You may want to share your memories of the person, offer condolences to their family and friends, or just express your sadness. Whatever you do, make sure you are respectful and considerate.
How do you post a loved one’s death on Facebook?
You should be respectful and sensitive if you post about a loved one’s death on Facebook. You may want to share your memories of the person, offer condolences to their family and friends, or just express your sadness. Whatever you do, make sure you are respectful and considerate.
What do you say to remember a loved one?
There are many things you can say to remember a loved one. You may want to share your memories of the person, offer condolences to their family and friends, or just express your sadness. Whatever you do, make sure you are respectful and considerate.
How do you announce the death on social media?
You should be respectful and sensitive if you are announcing someone’s death on social media. You may want to share your memories of the person, offer condolences to their family and friends, or just express your sadness.
You made a good point when you shared that it is great to honor your loved ones by following their wishes regarding the kind of funeral they want. My friend just mentioned the other day that her uncle just passed away due to a terminal illness and everyone is grieving for his passing. Some burial life insurance would have really helped their family.
Taylor – Sorry for your friends loss.
I'm glad you talked about what steps to take after a loved one passed away. Recently, my wife and I started thinking about our funeral arrangements and decided it'd be better to start planning them now. We think it'd be smart to leave our funeral wishes written down and paid for, so we'll be sure to look into it.