What Do You Do After the Death of a Family Member

Did you know that most people are afraid to talk about death? If your loved one passed away, and you don’t know where to start, we can help.

In this guide, we’ll go over what to do after the death of a family member.

Want to learn more? Keep reading.

Legal Death Certificate

If your loved one passes away in a nursing home or hospital, the staff will deal with the paperwork.

A declaration of death is the first step to take before you get a death certificate. You will need a death certificate when dealing with banks and government agencies.

Suppose your loved one passed away at home, and it was unexpected. In that case, a medical professional will have to declare that your loved one died.

Call 911 right away. Your relative will get brought to an emergency room. There, they will be declared dead before they are moved to a funeral home.

Was your loved one receiving hospice care at home? The hospice nurse will be able to declare they are dead.

If you don’t have a declaration of death, you won’t’ be able to handle the legal affairs or plan the funeral.

Inform Your Family and Friends

Next, you will need to tell your loved ones and friends about what happened. Consider calling them one by one instead of sending a mass text.

If you need help calling everyone, ask a close relative to help you with this task.

If there are other contacts you should inform, check your loved one’s phone contacts. Let their church know, or volunteer organization they were part of know.

Ask your loved ones and friends to pass the word on to those who knew your relative.

Lock up Your Loved One’s Home and Property

After your loved one’s death, you’ll need to lock up their vehicles and home. Ask a relative or family friend to pick up their mail, clean out their fridge, and water the plants.

Did your loved one own a lot of valuables? Make sure that cash, collectibles, or jewelry get locked up.

Consider Burial Plans and the Funeral

Some people will have had a chance to discuss burial plans or funeral ideas with their loved ones. If you didn’t have the opportunity to discuss these things, call a family meeting.

Talk about what the funeral would be like or ask if your loved one told them about any specific requests.

Think about what you’re able to afford and what the family wants.

Prepare for a Burial, Cremation, or Funeral

If your loved one didn’t have a pre-burial plan, pick a funeral home.

You might decide to cremate their body or choose a coffin. Will you cremate their body? If so, search online using the words “cremation near me.”

Research the different funeral prices before making a decision. What is your budget?

Was your loved one part of the military or a religious group? Make sure you contact the religious organization or the Veterans Administration.

Find out if the organizations conduct funeral services or offer burial benefits.

You could also reach out to family and friends to help out with the funeral. Relatives or friends can plan the service, eulogize, or become pallbearers.

Make sure you note who takes on these different tasks so you can send them a thank you note later on.

What About Pets?

If your loved one owned pets, start thinking about a long-term plan for them.

Is there someone in your family who loves animals? Send the pets there or to a kennel until you figure out what to do with them permanently.

Make Sure You Forward Mail to Yourself

You’ll want to stop at the post office. Place in a forwarding order. This way, mail will get sent to you or another relative helping you out.

This way, mail won’t pile up at your loved one’s home. You’ll also soon discover what subscriptions need to get canceled. You might learn about accounts or creditors that need to get paid or canceled.

Go through the mail. You will gain an understanding of your loved one’s bills and assets. This way, you can figure out what needs to get canceled or organized.

Get Copies of the Death Certificate

Make sure you photocopy the original death certificate and take a picture.

You’ll need the death certificate to close up bank accounts. Bring it to register your loved one’s death with government agencies. You’ll use it to file insurance claims.

Order the copies of the death certificate from the vital statistics office.

Who Is the Executor?

An executor is a person who will manage the settling of the estate in the will. The executor will need to get involved in most steps moving forward. 

Decide where belongings, property, or money go after your loved one passes away.

Some people will have discussed these matters beforehand with family or close friends. If you’re unsure where the will is, look for a safety deposit box.

Bring the Will to Probate

You’ll need to start probate, the legal procedure of executing a will. You’ll do this at a city probate court office.

Probate courts will make sure that the person’s liabilities and debts get paid. The remaining assets will get transferred to the beneficiaries.

Now You Know What Steps to Take After the Death of a Family Member

We hope this guide on what to do after a loved one dies was helpful. The death of a family member can feel overwhelming.

Use these tips to help you organize your loved one’s end-of-life paperwork.

Was this guide helpful? Check out our other resources on family, health, and more.