When it comes to senior care at home, and a loved one dies, not only is it an emotional experience of loss but also requires so many pieces of their life to be efficiently closed. Dealing with personal and legal details can be a daunting and stressful task, especially when you don’t know what to do. It is not a one-person task. You will need the help of others—a CPA, lawyer, friends and family, etc.
What to do immediately after your loved one dies
Get a legal pronouncement of death and find out about funeral and burial plans
The staff handles this if your loved one died in a hospital or other facility. If they died at home, however, you will need to get a medical professional to declare this. You can call 911 as soon as they pass and then proceed from there. If under hospice, your loved one’s nurse can declare them dead. Without this document, you cannot plan a funeral or handle their legal affairs.
Let your friends and family know
Go through your loved one’s contacts and either send out a mass email, group text, or make individual phone calls to let them know your loved one has died. Additionally, if your loved one was involved with social groups or still working, make sure you let them know as well. If they had social media and you have access, making the announcement on their account might be helpful.
Arrange for the funeral, burial, or cremation
Find out if your loved one had a prepaid burial plan. Oftentimes, if they were members of an organization (e.g. the Veterans Administration), those groups offer benefits for funeral services. If your loved one did not make a plan, you will need to make the decision regarding a funeral home, service location, cremation, and the type of tombstone. Always make sure to research funeral prices before purchasing. Determine who will write the obituary and arrange for others to participate and write notes or eulogies.
A List of To-Do’s
- Arrange for their property to be taken care of.
- If they had pets, have a relative take them or board them.
- If they were working, make sure to notify their employer.
- Forward their mail.
- Arrange a meeting with the trusts and estates lawyer and CPA.
- List their assets—tax returns, email, financial accounts, deeds, etc.
- List their bills such as the mortgage and utilities and cancel whatever services are no longer needed.
- Let the Social Security Administration, life insurance, and your love one’s banking institution know they have died as well as all of their credit card companies. You will also need to inform one of the three credit agencies via a copy of a death certificate.
- Make sure to cancel their driver’s license.
- Finally, contact their state or county to update their voter registration.
While death is a natural part of life, grieving can be a different experience for all, depending on our relationship to the person lost and the history and circumstances surrounding it. Loss can be overwhelming, so seeking help can be tremendously helpful while you process the emotional aftermath.