Coping with the death of a loved one can be a crushing task. There are so many things to do and details to remember; all of this at a time when each small task can serve as a reminder of your loss. At such a time it can be helpful to know that you’re not going through this alone; there are a number of people who can help when you begin to feel overwhelmed. To relieve some of the stress, and help ensure that no important task is forgotten, we offer a list of people to call after the death of a loved one:
Funeral home – This will likely be your first call. The funeral home you or your loved one has selected will be able to help you with a lot of the immediate details and tasks. The funeral director will also be able to help you obtain 10-20 copies of the death certificate, something you will need later.
Family and Friends – This probably goes without saying. Not only will you want to notify family and friends, but they can also help with a lot of the endless tasks and overwhelming details. Don’t be afraid to delegate.
Veteran’s office (if deceased was a Vet.) – If the deceased was a Veteran you may have to stop benefit payments; you may also be able to get assistance with the funeral or memorial service.
The deceased’s employer – You will need to do this not only to inform the employer of the death, but also regarding termination of health insurance.
Attorney or Tax Professional – You will need to know what to do about probating the deceased’s estate, filing tax returns, dealing with bank accounts, etc. An attorney or tax professional can help. It is especially important to find out if your loved one had any existing estate documents.
Office of Social Security – If your loved one was receiving benefits you’ll need to stop payments. You will also want to find out if survivors are entitled to any benefits.
Insurance company of the deceased – You will probably need to file a claim. This is something your attorney or accountant may be able to help with.
Local Newspaper – You may want to publish an obituary or notice of death, as well as information about the funeral or memorial service.
Credit card companies and utilities – Give written notifice of death to each creditor. However, check with your estate’s attorney before paying any outstanding balances, as your attorney may advise paying them only after furnishing to each creditor the required legal notice and awaiting timely claims. Generally, you have no obligation to pay these debts from your own funds unless you, too, were a signer on the account(s) or are the surviving spouse with a legal obligation to pay the debt(s).
Bank – Arrange to change any joint accounts or to open an account in your name. Do not close any accounts right away!
Although this list is a good starting point; a complete list of people to call and things to do will depend on where the deceased lived and the details of their estate. Contact your loved one’s estate planning attorney (or your own) to ensure that nothing is left to chance.