7 Key Things You Need To Do Following A Death In The Family
Losing a family member is always distressing, however that doesn’t mean that you can just sit back and do nothing. There are numerous things which must be done even though you are grieving. Here is your guide to the seven key things which you must do after a loved one dies.
Reporting The Death
You must report your loved one’s death to government departments and financial institutions. Many states or counties have a service which allows you to report the death to several departments at once. Several different forms may need to be submitted depending on your loved one’s circumstances however there are online bereavement tools which can help you through this process.
If your loved one dies at home, it’s always best to call 911 stating that the person has passed away. They may either send an ambulance or a specialised car and will know where to take your loved one. If you have a ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ document be sure to have it available. The EMT’s are legally obliged to try resuscitation procedures if you do not have one.
Obtain A Legal Pronouncement of Death
You will need a certificate provided by a doctor at the hospital or your family doctor to show the cause of your loved one’s death. If your loved one dies during hospice care the hospice nurse will be able to provide the certificate instead. This is necessary to register their death officially.
Get a Death Certificate
You have 10 days to get the Death Certificate. Usually the Mortuary or Funeral Home will do this for you. We suggest that you get multiple copies as several will be required to settle all your loved one’s affairs. This will give you the documentation you require to arrange the funeral.
To obtain the death certificate, you may well be required to produce the Pronouncement of Death and, whenever possible, the birth certificate, marriage certificate, and social security card that belonged to the deceased.
You will have to give the deceased’s full name, their previous names, their place and date of birth, their address and last occupation, any spouse details and information about their pension and benefits. You will then be issued with a death certificate which permits a cremation or burial.
Arranging The Funeral
Once you have the death certificate, the funeral can be held, although the planning can begin earlier. Although it’s possible to organise the funeral yourself, using a funeral director is the easiest option. If your loved one has pre-paid for their funeral or if they have specified their wishes you will find it easier to make the decisions about what they would have wanted.
Check For A Will
If your loved one had a will, their property, possessions and money will be easy to settle. If no will has been made, however, you will most likely need to consult an attorney as the rules are quite complex and vary from state to state. Within 10 days you have to take the will to the city or county registrar to have it accepted for probate.
Redirect Their Mail
If you’re the executor of your loved one’s will or their next of kin, you’re able to make an application to the postal service so that their mail can be redirected to your home address. You can find the necessary application forms online at usps.com or at your local post office.
Sorting Out The Estate
As the executor, you can then legally access the deceased’s bank account and settle their estate. Inheritance tax laws vary from state to state, however as of 2014 there is an exemption for estates worth less than $5,340,000.
You will also need to file a tax return for the current year up until the time of death and pay any federal or state taxes that are due. After the tax is paid, you’ll be able to collect any remaining assets.
It is very important to go through your loved one’s financial papers, and make contact with the financial organisations and banks that they dealt with. You can close down their insurance, pension and other accounts so the funds therein can be released. At this point you’ll need to pay off any outstanding debts before distributing the rest of the estate to all the named beneficiaries in the will or via intestacy laws should there be no valid will in place.
Although losing a loved one will never be easy, knowing what needs to be done in the immediate aftermath helps to reduce some of the stress and emotional burden of this challenging time. Follow these steps and you’ll find that you’ll soon be free to grieve for your loved one properly.