Losing a loved one, whether expected or unexpected, is a difficult time.  Unfortunately, actions need to be taken and responsibilities looked after, whether you are the executor of the estate, family or a close friend asked to assist at this time.  To help you during your time of grieving here is a step-by-step guide of what you need to do when your loved one passes away.

Step 1:  Notify Family and Close Friends

This task can be delegated among other friends and family.  Do not feel you have to take it all on yourself.

Step 2:  Care of Dependents and Pets

If your loved one was responsible for any dependents and/or pets, you need to make sure someone takes on the responsibility of looking after them.  It is important to remember that they will be in mourning as well (and, yes, pets do mourn).

Step 3:  Call Employer

If the deceased was still employed, make sure to call his or her employer.  Not only do they need to know what has happened, they can also provide information regarding company benefits or life-insurance policy.

Step 4:  Gather Documents

Put together a folder containing the following documents:

  • Social Security Number
  • Death Certificate
  • Will or Trust
  • Power of Attorney

Step 5:  Arrange for Funeral or Memorial Service

Decisions that need to be made include what to do with your loved ones’ physical remains and what type of funeral or memorial service would best honor your loved one’s memory.  If at all possible, do not do this alone.  Have family or friends help you with these difficult decisions.

Step 6:  Take an Inventory of Assets

Assets include, but are not limited to, financial accounts, jewelry, collections, life insurance, and benefits.

Step 7:  Start the Probate Process

Take the will to the appropriate government office.

Step 8:  Transfer Assets

It does not seem right to be thinking of money at a time like this but it is essential to make sure the deceased’s spouse and dependents have the means to pay the bills. The deceased’s name needs to be removed from any jointly held assets such as bank accounts, credit cards, automobile titles, and property deeds.

Step 9:  Business Notifications

Inform any creditors of your loved one’s death.  Determine if any automatic payments or deposits, subscriptions and ongoing services need to be cancelled or transferred to another name.

Step 10:  Think About Receiving Help from the Experts

Remember, there are individuals whose expertise is dealing with these matters. If you feel overwhelmed, or are uncertain of how to accomplish everything, consider contacting an expert for help.  Money from the estate can cover these expenses.

Most Important, Take Your Time

While some decisions need to be made immediately, others do not.  This is especially true when it comes to finances. Do not make hasty decisions in the midst of the grieving.  Take your time, grieve, and then research, ponder, and talk to close family or friends before making any major financial decisions.