We occasionally get calls from family members or others involved in handling the affairs of the recently deceased. They ask us what they need to keep in mind and what they need to do immediately after the decedent's passing. These people are not just talking about handling probate or dealing with trust administration. Rather they are just concerned about what post-death actions and activities they need to get done. We help out in any way that we can. Here is a list of some items that come to my mind as I think about these calls. It dertainly may not cover everything, but it is certainly a good starting point:
1. Arrange for any needed care for such things as: Childcare, pet sitting, care of plants, care of surviving spouse if incapacitiated etc.
2. Arrange for organ donation if authorized by the decedent before death
3. Notify friends, employers, landlords, etc.
4. Prepare the obituary for the newspapers
5. Find and go over decedent's burial and funeral wishes
6. Contact the funeral home/funeral director to arrange for cremation and/or burial services
7. Order sufficient copies of the death certificate (perhaps 8-10)
8. Secure the decedent's residence and business as necessary. Consider changing locks if necessary and/or hiring security of called for in a given situation.
9. Collect all the keys including house, car, etc.
10. Go through and discard perishables, medications and similar from decedent's home.
11. Notify the post office to hold mail and/or forward as required.
12. Locate and organize all important documents such as Wills, Trusts, Insurance Policies, Deeds, Stock Certificates, Bank Statements, Credit Card Statements, Tax Returns etc.
Laslty, do not pay any of the decedent's bills or handle similar financial concerns until you have spoken with his/her attorney and had conversations with the family. This will help you avoid making financial mistakes. Losing a loved one is never an easy thing.
Hopefully this list will help make the difficult time immmediatelf following your loss a little easier to manage.