One of the most difficult parts of life can be losing a loved one. We might try to be prepared, but saying goodbye for the last time is never easy. The days and weeks that follow the death of a loved one can be very difficult and everyone tries to deal with it in their own way.
There’s little that can ease the pain or assuage the grief, but the following checklist of what to do when someone dies should help, even if it’s just in a small way. Some of the things you’ve got to do may include notifying various parties, obtaining Arizona probate, carrying out the wishes of your loved one, settling the estate, and making arrangements for pets and children.
Getting Legal Documentation of Death
You’ll need legal documentation of your loved one’s death for various things, such as:
- Accessing financial and bank accounts
- Starting the probate process
- Filing life insurance claims
- Attending to other personal affairs
Legal documentation is the death certificate that you get from a medical examiner or funeral home. Depending on how many parties you need to contact, you’re going to need several copies.
You should obtain the death certificate within a few days of your loved one’s passing. How long you’ve got to get this documentation varies depending on state law.
Notifying Various Parties
There are going to be various people you need to inform of your loved one’s passing. Try to let the most important ones know first. News can spread very quickly nowadays, thanks to the internet and social media. You want to make sure close family members and friends hear of the death before reading it on Facebook.
Inform the following people in this order:
- All family members
- Frequent acquaintances
- Professional relationships
- Old friends
Once these people have been informed, you can start making the more formal calls including financial or business entities, and government agencies. Some of the more formal calls could be made by the Executor of the Estate if one has been named in the will.
Making Arrangements for the Body
The arrangements you make depend on your loved one’s last wishes. However, if death was sudden, or there have been no conversations about what they wanted, making these arrangements can be quite complicated.
There are several options for funerals, services, wakes, burials, and memorials. But, first, you’ll have to consider the following:
- Transporting the body which a funeral home can help with
- Ordering a casket which can also be done via a funeral home or online
- Finding a funeral director
If you know that your loved one wanted to donate their organs for transplant, science, or research, you must honor their wishes.
Making Arrangements for Dependants and Pets
If your loved one was responsible for any dependents or pets, you need to find out what provisions were set up for Guardianship.
If there’s no Will or Trust, arrangements need to be made immediately. If there is no estate planning document, it may be down to the court to decide what will happen in the long term.
Basic assets and personal property must be made secure. You can do this by making sure their home and cars are locked. Other important to-dos include household tasks and chores such as:
- Taking out the trash
- Checking the mail and forwarding it if necessary
- Bringing in newspapers and other deliveries
- Checking Veteran’s benefits
As the days and weeks pass, you might also want to think about cleaning the house, holding an estate sale, and preparing the house for sale.
Carrying Out Your Loved One’s Wishes
If your loved one wrote a Will, you must find it, along with any other estate planning documents. These will be able to help you plan a memorial and funeral and deal with the estate.
Making Funeral Plans
Planning a funeral can be very emotional but it’s something that has to be done. The following steps should be followed:
- Writing the obituary/death announcement
- Coordinate other funeral arrangements
- Send out invites
- Determine the type of memorial
- Coordinate tasks such as flowers, food, and drinks
Settling Your Loved One’s Estate
The final thing to do is settle your loved one’s estate. This can be a very long process, but if you focus on one thing at a time, it should help you get through it. The main steps are as follows:
- If you’re the executor of your loved one’s Will, you must reach out to beneficiaries, trustees, and other interested parties
- Determine whether there is a need for probate
- Pay outstanding bills and close accounts
- Distribute assets
What if Someone Dies Without Making a Will?
If your loved one didn’t make a Will or any other Estate Plan, they are said to have died intestate. In these situations, state intestacy laws and the courts decide the fate of all assets.