What You Have To Do When a Family Member Dies

When a loved one dies, it can be a very emotional time. You may be in shock and want to spend time mourning but there are things that need to be taken care of. many of the bureaucratic tasks could take you by surprise and there may never be a right time to deal with them. However, you have to deal with them and doing it as soon as possible will prevent any unexpected problems, months, even years after your loved one’s death. If you’ve never had to deal with anything like it before knowing where to start can be confusing. The following list will be useful if you ever need to stop a sad event from becoming even more painful.

A Formal Declaration of Death is Essential

When someone passes a formal declaration of death has to be made. A doctor or medical professional has to pronounce them dead in order for the process to continue. If they died in the hospital or nursing home the staff will provide that service. However, if they die at home someone will have to call 911 and alert the emergency services. The emergency services will arrange for the body to be taken to an emergency room at a local hospital where they can be declared dead before being moved to a funeral home.

It’s important to get several copies of the death certificate as they will be important later on when contacting financial institutions and other organizations.

Family and Friends Should be Informed

When a family member dies, you should contact other family members and friends and let them know what has happened. Once this has been done, you can start making arrangements for a memorial or burial service. If you want to, you can write an obituary and have it published in a local paper.

Honor the Family Member’s Wishes

Death is not always unexpected, and your family member may have already made it very clear what their final wishes are. They could relate to whether they want to be buried or cremated, what songs should be played at the memorial service, whether donations at the ceremony should be made to a certain charity and a range of other important details. If these wishes have been written down, you should review them as soon as possible because they may influence what you do next.

funeral home arrangement

Burial Arrangements Need to be Made

A funeral home will be able to shoulder much of the burden of making burial arrangements and wherever you live there are plenty to choose from. If you live in Texas, for example, you’ll be able to find out more information by visiting this website. They will also be responsible for collecting the body of the deceased from the hospital or morgue. In some states, it is possible to do this yourself, but in others, it’s the responsibility of a licensed funeral director. There are strict laws relating to the proper burial or cremation of the deceased, so it would pay to find out what these are when the burial arrangements need to be made. Religious considerations and the wishes of the deceased also need to be taken into account.  

Notify the Post Office

You can stop mail deliveries by notifying the post office of their death. You can have any mail forwarded to you so that it doesn’t attract attention at the deceased home. Any mail you receive can also provide valuable information in tracking down things you might not have thought of or known about.

Find the Will and Executor

If there is a will it will provide details of how any money, property or belongings will be distributed to surviving family members, friends or charities. If you’ve got a family member who is ill, it’s a good idea to talk about their will and where it will be, so you don’t have to search for it when the time comes. The will is needed for the process of probate, the legal execution of a will, and it usually has to be taken to a city office. When no will has been written, a court will appoint a family member as an executor and property will be distributed according to the law in the state where the deceased lived.

Deal with the Deceased Possessions

This can be quite a daunting process and some of it can be left until a later date. Certain things, however, will need to be done as soon as possible. If the deceased was living at home you’ll need to make sure their property is secure, and any perishable items are removed. If your loved one had a pet then you’ll need to make arrangements for its care. Any utilities will need to be switched off and the relevant providers notified.    

Legal, Financial and Government

Any financial institutions or creditors that your loved one did business with needs to be informed. Generally, you’ll need to have an official death certificate before any of them will speak with you about financial matters. Social Security Administration also needs to be informed and if the deceased was a veteran, you’ll need to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs. In some cases, the funeral home you’ve appointed will do this for you, but you’d need to check. If there is a life insurance policy running, you’ll need to contact the insurance provider and present the death certificate. The deceased person’s final tax return will also need to be filed. To prevent identity theft you should cancel their driver’s license, notify the election board, cancel memberships, email and website accounts, and close credit card accounts.

Take Care of Yourself

Losing a family member can be a traumatic experience, and it’s very easy to forget about taking care of yourself. You have to acknowledge what’s happened and go through the grief process in order to heal and you shouldn’t let your responsibilities prevent this from happening. If you’re having a difficult time dealing with your loss, there are plenty of resources available.

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