Death is a challenging subject, even more so when we are confronted with it directly. When a loved one dies, it is an immeasurably difficult experience. People experience a range of emotions, and often it can be hard to understand what to do next. In this series, we will explore some of the important steps you need to take after experiencing the death of a loved one. While these are not exhaustive lists, the first part of this series is dedicated to helping you understand some of the things that need to be addressed as soon as possible after the death of a loved one. It is not easy to bring yourself to undertake some of these tasks, but being aware of how crucial many of them are is an important part of finding ways to accomplish them – either personally or by enlisting the help of someone your trust.
Safeguard Property and Secure Arrangements
Depending on the circumstances surrounding a person’s death, it may become crucial to ensure that any property they have left behind is properly secured. This may include their home and/or their vehicle. You will want to make sure everything is locked and stored appropriately, that utilities are shut off, and that anything potentially dangerous to others has been properly taken care of.
If applicable, you will also need to locate a Will and other estate planning documents that may contain directives for funeral and other arrangements. Time is often of the essence, and you will want to make sure that you take the deceased person’s wishes into consideration. This is one of the reasons it is extremely important to vocalize your own desires regarding funeral and burial arrangements. Preplanning such arrangements is an increasingly popular thing to do, and an experienced estate planning attorney can help you understand the role preplanning can play in the death of a loved one.
Obtain Multiple Copies of the Death Certificate
You will need copies of the death certificate to perform a number of different functions on behalf of the deceased individual. In order to close credit and bank accounts or even to collect some assets that may be in your name to help you with handling the affairs of the deceased person, you will likely have to present copies of the death certificate to various entities. Some of these can be copies, and some may need to be certified. A good number to begin with is five. By requesting multiple copies when you begin the process, you can save yourself the time and energy required in requesting more so that you can devote more of yourself to the grieving process.
Gather Important Documents and Information
You will need to put together all of the deceased person’s important documents and personal information. Ultimately, personal information must be disposed of properly to avoid potential identity theft that can accompany someone’s death. You will also need this information to begin closing credit accounts and determine the financial planning necessary to handle the deceased person’s finances – including potential creditors. Doing so can help you determine if any bills need to be paid immediately or if there are other potentially serious financial matters to address. You will also want to contact credit reporting agencies to file a “Deceased – Do Not Issue Credit” notice.