The time immediately following the death of a loved one can be incredibly stressful and hectic. If you have been appointed to the role of estate administrator, you will have a lot of work to do in the near future.
Here is a checklist of some of the most important responsibilities you must take care of when a family member passes away:
- Arrange organ donation: If your loved one was an organ donor, the donations need to be made as soon as possible so that medical professionals can use them to save the lives of other people.
- Contact immediate family: Inform all immediate family members of the death right away. You can contact close friends and extended family after all immediate family has received notification.
- Follow your loved one’s body wishes: Whether the person wanted to be buried, cremated or donated to science, it is important to follow the guidelines they outlined in their estate planning documents.
- Begin funeral preparations: Hopefully, your loved one will have left behind instructions for their funeral. Regardless, you will need to begin preparations for the funeral quickly. This includes choosing a funeral home.
- Make sure property is secure: Your loved one’s home, possessions and vehicle should all be locked up and secure as soon as possible.
- Notify the post office: Begin forwarding the deceased’s mail to your address. This will also help you determine which subscriptions and accounts need to be canceled. This can be done online in the Quick Tools section at www.usps.com
Before the funeral
- Meet with the funeral director: Talk about the format of the funeral, the burial site, any traditions you have in your family and anything else important to you loved one.
- Spread the word about the funeral: Inform as many people who knew your loved one about the funeral as soon as possible.
- Write an obituary: Create a public obituary with funeral information. Send it to local newspapers and websites.
After the funeral
- Obtain death certificate copies: These documents could be important for canceling certain accounts and dealing with creditors.
- Notify the Social Security Administration office: This is especially important if your loved one had already been receiving benefits. The funeral home may assist with this.
- Stop coverages: End coverages for health insurance, life insurance and any other policies your loved one had.
- Notify lenders and banks: Make sure all banks and lenders, along with credit card companies, know of your loved one’s passing.
- Cancel driver’s license: Inform the Bureau of Motor Vehicles about your loved one’s passing so the agency removes their name from its records.
For further tips on how to proceed after the death of a loved one and what steps you need to take, work with a trusted estate planning attorney.
Steven K. Hardy is an Associate with BoltNagi PC and concentrates his practice in estate planning and probate matters.
BoltNagi is a widely respected and established estate and tax planning law firm that serves clients throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.