May 29, 2023 by Dean Bellefeuille

Senior woman hugging a picture of a loved one

Losing a loved one is heart wrenching, and the last thing you want to do is complete a list of to-dos. The pain and loss alone are overwhelming enough. Taking the time to work through your grief is extremely important. Yet there are, unfortunately, a number of tasks that have to be taken care of at different intervals following the person’s passing. 

To help with the necessary process after the death of a loved one, we’ve compiled an easy-to-follow checklist and timeline of items to address.  

What Do I Need to Do After the Death of a Loved One? 

Directly after death: 

  • Retrieve the legal pronouncement of death by a medical professional. In a nursing home or hospital, this will automatically be taken care of. In the case of a death at home, call 911 for transport to the hospital for the pronouncement.
  • Tell the family and friends in whatever way makes you most comfortable. You can contact one individual and ask them to spread the word, or it could be more cathartic for you to speak with each person yourself. Use email or social media if that works for you. There is no right or wrong way to accomplish this.
  • Get in touch with your chosen funeral home (or, if final wishes were preplanned, your loved one’s choice) to advise them of the death.

Within the first few days: 

  • Determine who you would like to assist with funeral-related tasks, such as writing the obituary, serving as pallbearers, helping with thank-you notes, and making arrangements for a post-funeral gathering. 
  • Work with the funeral home, the person’s religious organization, and, if applicable, the Veterans’ Administration, to finalize plans for the service.
  • Contact the post office for a forwarding order for the person’s mail.
  • Make long-term arrangements for any pets.
  • Lock up any valuables in the house and remove any perishable food.

In two weeks: 

  • Secure ten copies of the loved one’s death certificate. If it’s too overwhelming, this is also something the funeral home can manage for you as well. 
  • Notify the Social Security Administration, life insurance company, bank and financial advisors, a credit bureau such as Equifax, as well as the DMV. Most of these organizations will require a copy of the death certificate.
  • Take a copy of the will to your county or city probate court office to start the process of ensuring the individual’s wishes outlined in the will are followed and that all outstanding debts are taken care of.
  • Schedule a time to meet with a lawyer to establish estate settlement. 
  • Make a list of all assets and bills, and cancel accounts: phone, internet, electric, streaming services, etc.
  • Close the individual’s email account, and either memorialize or close their social media account(s). 
  • Locate the individual’s will and identify who the executor is.
  • Contact a CPA to arrange for a final tax return to be filed.

At Home Independent Living can offer a helping hand after the death of a loved one, especially if the person leaves behind an elderly spouse. Our caregivers can step in to fill any gaps in care while you take care of the many final tasks and arrangements needed. Contact us online or call us any time at (315) 579-HOME (4663) for assistance.