Someone dies - what to do next?

How To

Grieving: 5 Steps To Move Forward | GoodTrust

Jul-22 2021

Dealing with the passing of a loved one is never easy, especially if you have to deal with a lot of paperwork at the same time. We know what it feels like to go through this difficult process and we are here to help. Here are 5 steps you should consider when someone passes away.

1. Get a legal pronouncement of death

If your loved one passes away in a hospital or clinic, the doctors or nurses will take care of the pronouncement and fill out the necessary paperwork, including time, location and cause of death. This official certification of death is an important part of obtaining a death certificate, so it is important to make sure a medical professional signs the papers. If your loved one passed away at home, call 911 and let them take care of the situation. For declaration of death purposes, it is better to not touch or move the body, especially if they died unexpectedly; 911 will call for a coroner for assistance.

2. Notify family and friends

Being in the position of letting everyone know about the passing of a person can be very difficult, but it is better to inform everyone as soon as possible. Call the people who are closest to you, or send out a mass text or email message if that is easier. Make sure to let family and friends know, and also inform business or work related contacts including any employment related organizations. And remember to add a Trusted Contact to your GoodTrust account so they can act on your behalf.

3. Find out about existing funeral and cremation plans (make funeral plans if necessary)

Try to find any existing funeral plans and cremation in common places like a safe or deposit box. Additionally ask close family members or the executor (if you know who it is) to ensure everything goes according to their wishes. If you can not find any files stored in the house, look for instructions in the will, testament or memorial plans. If you can not find any instructions, the family usually decides on what to do. Here are some services and objects to take into consideration:

  • Funeral home (memorial services)

  • Cremation services

  • Tombstone

4. Find will and trust

After making immediate arrangements, finding the will and the trust is the next important step towards the deceased legacy. If the deceased did not leave instructions on where to find the will, look for it in a safebox or other secure places in the house. The will names the executor and contains the distribution regulations of all assets the deceased left behind. The executor usually makes arrangements and ensures the wishes of the deceased are respected and fulfilled. The will also includes instructions regarding guardianship of children and pets, as well as property and estate assets. (Remember to create your own will using our free GoodTrust service.)

5. Notify authorities and cancel services no longer needed

Some authorities need to be informed soon in order to get cancelation processes rolling. Some of the entities to inform are:

  • Social Security office

Inform the social security office and find out if your loved one received any social security benefits. You can either call this number 1-800-772-1213 or contact your local SSA office. Depending on the individual situation, some family members might be eligible to receive death benefits (you can apply here).

  • Life insurance companies

Your loved one may have secured a life insurance prior to their death. Try to find any documents or files with life insurance conformations or policies. Have the death certificate ready for verification.

  • Banks, financial institutions

Try to find out if the deceased left their bank accounts with their passwords stored somewhere safe in the house or online. If not, you will have to request access from the bank itself, and proof of relation as well as the death certificate.

  • Delete social media accounts

Try to take down or memorialize any social media accounts the deceased had. If you want to keep accounts such as Facebook or Instagram for your friends and family, you can memorialize their accounts so no one else can log in, but the past posts remain on the platform. If your loved one did not prepare a list with accounts and passwords, you have to reach out to the platforms personally. 

  • Close email accounts

Closing any email accounts is an important part when it comes to the deceased's privacy. To prevent identity fraud, try to find out which email services they were utilizing and if they left any login information behind. If not, you will need the death certificate and proof of relationship to shut down the account.

  • Cancel subscriptions

Cancel any online subscriptions like Netflix, cable, cell phone contracts, mail or newspaper services, rent, car payments, medicare and any other subscriptions. 

We can also help you take care of all these needs with our a la carte service on behalf of someone who has died.

It's never easy to move forward after a loved one passes away. But taking pragmatic steps on their behalf can perhaps provide some modicum of comfort.