Steps to Take After Losing a Loved One

Having to deal with the wrongful death of a loved one is very stressful and emotionally devastating. When you do not know what to do or how to handle your loved one’s affairs, even the most basic tasks can be daunting.

At Geoff McDonald & Associates, we understand the difficulty of this situation. To help ease your stress, we have compiled a list of important actions you will want to take following the death of a loved one:

  1. Obtain multiple copies of your loved one’s death certificate.You will find it extremely difficult – if not impossible – to close accounts and speak with government agencies about your loved one’s passing without a certified copy of the death certificate.
  2. Obtain a copy of your loved one’s last will and testament.You will also want to get a copy of an advanced health care directive and any other estate-planning documents he or she prepared. These documents should give you explicit instructions on how he or she wants to be buried as well as on other key issues.
  3. Make burial and funeral arrangements.You will want to follow your loved one’s exact directions. This is not something you need to do alone. Other family members are usually willing to help.
  4. Arrange for the care of your loved one’s dependants and others.Your loved one may leave behind an elderly spouse or relative. Care will also need to be arranged for any pets he or she owned.
  5. Notify extended family members. You may also want to inform close friends and co-workers of your loved one’s passing.
  6. Take steps to secure all of your loved one’s personal possessions and property.Lock up the house, store any cars in the garage, locate and secure property stored at other locations and, if necessary, arrange for someone you trust to stay at the house temporarily.
  7. Contact the attorney who prepared your loved one’s estate plan.You will want to find out whether you or another person have been listed as administrator or executor of the estate.
  8. Take the will to the appropriate court.This will allow the probate process to get started.
  9. Determine how your loved one’s finances will be handled. You will need to discuss this matter with the estate-planning attorney or individual who is acting as administrator for the estate. For instance, you will need to decide how all outstanding bills will be paid. You will also need to gather financial documents and bills to expedite the bill tally and payment process. Doing so can also help expedite the payment of an inheritance.
  10. Close all social media and other online accounts. In this digital age, it is important that you remember to close these Internet-based accounts. Each social media site handles these requests differently.
  11. Give yourself the time you need to grieve.Taking care of yourself after suffering such a loss is important to your health and well-being. It can also help you to come to terms with such a tragic loss. The basics such as food and sleep become more important in these situations.
  12. Seek the counsel of an experienced wrongful death attorney. If you believe your loved one’s death was caused by another person’s negligence, you will need to take action as soon as possible. By hiring an attorney, you gain an advocate who can help you to determine whether your loved one suffered a wrongful death and who can help you to seek just compensation.