What to Do When a Loved One Dies

There are not many things in life as overwhelming as dealing with a loss of a loved one. There are so many practical things to do on top of the emotional toll of the event. You have to plan a funeral, notify other relatives, and handle paperwork and arrangements, all while dealing with the devastation of loss.  Hopefully, this checklist of what to do when a loved one dies will help guide you through this difficult time.

Unfortunately, throughout the fog of grief, there are some very practical things you need to do. The amount of paperwork, decisions, and practical tasks often surprises people. Understandably you might be a bit overwhelmed.   The good news is that only some things must be done immediately. PACE YOURSELF. Let’s go over what needs to be done when your loved one dies and how quickly you need to get it done.

Immediate Things that Need to be Done When Your Loved One Passes

Some things need to be done within hours of your loved one passing. Even though you are going through a very emotional time, some things need to be done immediately.   
1. Legal Pronouncement of Death

First things first, you need a legal pronouncement of death.   Often, this is not something you will not have to worry about getting yourself because it will already be done.  But in certain instances, you do have to obtain. For example, if your loved one dies in a hospital or nursing home where a doctor was present, the staff will obtain the legal pronouncement of death. But if your loved one dies at home unexpectedly, you will need to get a medical professional to declare them dead.

If your loved one was under hospice care and died at home, their hospice nurse can pronounce them dead. But if your relative was not in hospice care and died at home, you first need to call 911. They will transport your loved one to the ER to have them declared dead.  The body can then be released from the hospital to the funeral home.

You are not always responsible for obtaining a Legal Pronouncement of Death.

A legal pronouncement of death is important because you need that to get a death certificate, which will become a critical piece of paperwork later.  You can’t do anything you will need to do in the future without a declaration of death. You can’t plan a funeral or settle any of the deceased financial or legal affairs without a legal pronouncement of death.  So again, before you do anything, you must have a legal pronouncement of death.

2. Make Calls
You also need to Make Phone Calls.

You’ll never be able to call everyone, but if you can reach the immediate family to let them know a loved one has died, that is preferred.  You can delegate and ask some family members to call others.  This is an excellent task to give people when they ask, “what can I do to help?”

Once your immediate family has been notified, social media can be a beneficial tool to help spread the news of someone’s passing.

3. Make Arrangements for Children
Arrangements for Children.

If your loved one had children, they should be everyone’s first concern during this difficult time. If your loved one had any dependents (minor children or adults who cannot take care of themselves), you need to be extra careful in telling them about the loss.  After that, you need to figure out the logistics of care. Did your loved one leave any Estate Plans or any provisions for Guardianship for the children? 

If you can’t find a will or trust quickly, you must make arrangements for the children immediately.  Children cannot be left alone, especially when they are grieving. If there are never any legal planning documents found for the children, the courts may have to be notified for a final decision.

4. Make Arrangements for Pets
Make Similar Arrangements for Pets

If your loved one has pets, someone needs to care for them in the short term until you decide on a permanent plan for them.  Hopefully, a family member or friend knows the pet that can care for them because, just like people, the pet will grieve the loss of its owner.   Your relative might have also left a guardship or legal paperwork for their pets.

5. Find Out Funeral Plans
Find out if your loved one had an existing funeral and burial plan.

One thing that has to be dealt with pretty quickly is making arrangements for the body. That does not mean you need to plan the entire funeral now. However, answering these questions in the first few hours will help the rest of the decisions in the future.

  • Cremation or burial
  • Choose a funeral home/director.
  • Transporting the body (the funeral home will arrange this)
  • Did your loved one wish to donate their organs for transplant, science, or research (sometimes, this decision has to be immediate)

In the best case, you already know all of your loved one’s wishes, and you can move on to executing them. But sometimes you don’t have that luxury, so now is the time to look for a letter of instruction in the deceased’s papers.  You can call other family members to see if they have any insight.  If there are no instructions, you should have a family meeting to ensure everyone agrees on a plan. Again, this is a high-stress time. Emotions will run high, but the more you can try to stay calm and talk these issues out now, you can save yourself more conflict.

You have gotten through the first few hours and already accomplished a lot. Hopefully, you will try to get some rest because there will still be much more to do.

Things that Need to be Done in the first One to Three Days when Your Loved One Passes

You are still in the difficult first few days, and there is still a lot to do, so remember to pace yourself.

You are still in the difficult first few days, and there is still a lot to do, so remember to pace yourself.

6. Plan the Funeral 
You are still in the difficult first few days, and there is still a lot to do, so remember to pace yourself.

If you already have a general idea of the type of funeral your loved one wants, now is the time to start planning the details.  Your loved one might have already prepaid for their funeral, so you need to find that documentation.

Also, you might need to consider what groups your loved one was a part of.  Were they a veteran? Religious? This might affect funeral planning.

Now is also the time to consider whom you want to participate in the service. Common roles are:

  • Pallbearers
  • Someone to eulogize
  • Music
7. Write the Obituary
Writing the obituary is a way to honor your loved one’s life, but it can be challenging. This is an excellent task to give to a friend or family member who is a good writer. They will be happy to help, and you can get some relief.
8. Check the Property 
You do need to check on your loved one’s property. This is not the time to clear out the whole house but do a general sweep.  Again, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself. You should now complete these tasks while you are at the property.
You would like to complete these tasks when you check on the property.

Things that Need to be Done within a Week when Your Loved one Passes

You should try to accomplish some other things in the first week of your loved one’s passing.

You should try to accomplish some other things in the first week of your loved one’s passing.

9.   Forward the Mail

You will want to contact the post office to ensure your loved one’s mail is forwarded to you or another relative. Critical financial records and other bills could come in the mail, which you need to handle now.

10. Notify Your Loved One’s Employer

If your loved one still worked, you should contact their employer to inform them about your loved one’s passing. Emotional and practical details need to be handed in at the workplace. The employer will want to pass on funeral arrangements to other employees and the functional elements of paychecks and other financial documents that should be handled.

Things that Need to be Done within the First Ten Days when Your Loved one Passes

11. Obtain the Death Certificate

You should always ask for more than one copy. GET MULTIPLE Copies!! There will be plenty of paperwork, and you will need an official death certificate.

12. Notify the Following of Your Loved One’s Death

You will need to contact several agencies and services to let them know your loved one has passed away.

  • Social Security
    • If your loved one was receiving social security checks, the department needs to know to stop sending them.
  • Life Insurance
    • You will want to start getting your loved one’s life insurance claim.
  • Delete Social media or Memorialize it
  • Credit Agencies
    • To prevent identity theft, you must alert your loved one’s death to one of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion.
  • Contact a CPA
    • Your loved one might already have a CPA, so you should contact that professional. If they did not have one, you should get a CPA to ensure the taxes are handled correctly.
  • Cancel services
    • Your loved one might have many services that are no longer needed if no one lives in the house.  You can now cancel those services to avoid unnecessary bills.
      •  Cable
      • Utilities
      • Cellphones
      • Car Insurance
      • Internet
      • Streaming, etc.

Things that Need to be Done within the Upcoming Months when Your Loved One Passes

The initial shock and stress of losing a loved one have passed. There are still things you will be dealing with.  This is the time to clean out your loved one’s house. One of the biggest tasks you will handle is dealing with the Will and probate.

The initial shock and stress of losing a loved one have passed. There are still things you will be dealing with.  This is the time to clean out your loved one’s house. One of the biggest tasks you will handle is dealing with the Will and probate.

13. Dealing with the Will and Probate

Dealing with the Will and Probate

Find the Will

Hopefully, your loved one has a Will and told you where to find it. Sometimes it is not easy to find the Will, so you might have to search for it. Common places Wills can be found:

  • Desks
  • Safety Deposit Boxes
  • File Cabinets
  • Wherever important papers were kept

Take the Will to Probate.

Now you will need to file the Will with the probate courts.

The probate process is not well known until you go through it.  Some common probate questions are answered below.

What is the Probate Process?

What is the Probate Process?

This might be the first time you hear about probate, so what exactly is it? Probate is the legal process by which property owned by a deceased person is passed to their heirs after the death.  Simply put, probate is passing the title or determining who gets what when someone passes away, either by looking at the Will or, if none exists, then under the laws of intestacy, essentially the rules that determine the hierarchy of heirs.

How long does the probate process take?

The probate courts are backlogged, so the probate process is lengthy. The probate process can take anywhere from 9 months to over two years.  Probate can drag on for even longer, sometimes taking several years, depending upon the complexity of the estate.

Is there any way I can get my inheritance early?

Now that you know how long probate can take, it is understandable if you wish to speed up the probate process! Unfortunately, you can’t speed up the probate process, but there is a way you can get your inheritance money faster.  A probate inheritance cash advance is the fastest and easiest way to receive and use a portion of your inheritance money right away.

What is a ProbateCash Advance (Inheritance Advance?)

A Probate inheritance advance is an advance on your pending inheritance. An inheritance advance or probate cash advance provides upfront cash to the heirs/beneficiaries of estates waiting for inheritance money in probate court.  Sometimes people refer to inheritance advances as loans, but they are not loans.  Unlike a loan, an inheritance cash advance has: no interest fees, no fixed “due date,” and imposes no personal recourse or liability in a payment shortfall. You are NOT liable for any shortfall or deficiency, with a few exceptions such as fraud, etc. Eligibility and approval aren’t dependent on your credit score or income.

Where can I get a probate inheritance advance?

ProbateCash is a leader in providing inheritance advances. We pride ourselves on being the best inheritance advance company. When you need your money, we know you need it fast, so we get you your cash in as little as 24 hours! We are known as one of the best inheritance advance companies because we provide risk-free inheritance advances fast while maintaining the highest client reviews.

Why would I get a ProbateCash advance (inheritance advance?)

Because the probate process can take up to two years, sometimes people cannot wait that long.  There are various reasons why people choose to get an inheritance advance. Still, the most common reasons are maintaining the property, HOA fees, paying bills, unplanned medical expenses, or upcoming tuition.  Unfortunately, because the probate process takes so long, there could be many instances where people need their inheritance quicker, but ProbateCash is always ready to help!

 Moving Forward

Dealing with losing a loved one is one of life’s hardest challenges.  Be kind to yourself.  Don’t get overwhelmed, and know that if you need any help with the probate process, ProbateCash is always here.  We can help you get your money fast.  You can call us anytime to go over your options! Take care of yourself; remember, we are always a phone call away.

And to learn more about ProbateCash Advances, you can read our complete guide to them here: How Inheritance Advances Work.