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 copies of the death certificate - something you will need later. Many people order at least 10 or more copies for future needs.
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 ask for help and 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 to terminate health insurance and to obtain information about any employee benefits that might be due and payable.
Attorney and 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 and a tax professional can help. It is especially important to find out if your loved one had any existing estate documents such as a will, or living trust or irrevocable trust.
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 - If your loved one had life insurance, you will probably need to file a claim. This is something your attorney can help you 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 - Before you pay any debts or claims, discuss the claims procedure with your attorney.
Bank - Before you make any changes to bank accounts, discuss the procedure with your attorney. 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 his or her estate. Contact your loved one’s estate planning attorney (or your own) to ensure that nothing is left to chance.