Death is a normal part of life — one that isn’t necessarily welcome, though. Nearly 60 million people die each year of various causes. Each death is as devastating to the ones they leave behind.
If you have experienced death in the family, you might be at a loss for what to do when someone dies. It can be hard to know the next steps while you’re grieving.
Still, we hope this guide will make it easier for you. Keep on reading to learn what to do after someone dies.
Right After Death
Although we understand that you might not be in the right emotional state to handle some things, you’ll have to do a couple of tasks immediately after death. Learn the important steps below:
Get a Legal Pronouncement of Death
You need an official declaration of death for the death certificate, and you must get it ASAP. If someone died with a medical professional around, the staff will handle this.
If the person died at home, however, you need a medical professional to declare the death. You can take them to the ER or call 911. If they passed away while in hospice care, call the staff nurse.
Contact Friends and Loved Ones
You’ll have to pass the bad news along to your other family members and the friends of the deceased. You can check the deceased’s contacts to see whom you need to inform. Contact any of their social groups you’re aware of, like their coworkers or churchmates.
You can text or call; the latter is preferable if you’re contacting the immediate family members or closest friends. You can also ask some of those you contact to pass the message along. This will take some burden off you.
After you’ve made sure everyone important knows, you can also post on social media about the death. This will inform everyone else, but be mindful – no one likes getting the news about someone important to them on social media.
What to Do When Someone Dies
In an ideal scenario, your family would already have done funeral planning, especially for the older family members. For unexpected deaths, however, it’s unlikely you would already have a plan in place.
In that case, you’ll have to do the following:
Make Funeral, Burial, or Cremation Arrangements
You’ll have to look up funeral homes and ask for quotations. You’ll then have to decide where you want to hold the internment, whether you want to bury or cremate the body, and so on. You also have to choose the needed items, like a coffin or urn, grave marker, and such.
To make things easier, you can also talk to a funeral director who can arrange the funeral for you. You should get the whole family in the planning so you can distribute tasks.
Handle Care of Person’s Property and Family
You’ll have to take care of the properties of the deceased, such as their home, vehicles, and pets. Contact someone to watch over the house and the vehicles; if none are available for this task, at least make sure to secure them.
If there are any pets or kids that need supervision, ask a relative to take them in. You can also put pets in a kennel if you have no other options.
A Few Weeks After Death
Funerals are hectic, so you won’t have time to do the following until afterward. Prepare yourself, though, as you still have a lot to do.
Secure Death Certificates
You can ask the funeral home to assist you in getting death certificates. You can also get them yourself from the records office or the city hall.
Get multiple copies – around 10 is a safe bet. You’ll need a copy for each institution, company, and account your family member has an affiliation with.
Contact the Attorney, CPA, and Executor
It’s then time to talk about the will and execute it. You’ll have to look for it or contact the lawyer of the deceased.
The will usually name an executor, who’ll need to get involved in most affairs going forward. A probate court judge will name an administrator in the absence of an executor.
You might also have to hire lawyers and CPAs. A lawyer is useful for helping you handle an estate worth over $50,000. You need the CPA to file a tax return, as well.
Contact the Institutions That Need Notification
You’ll need to contact a lot of companies and government agencies when someone dies. This is where you’ll need the death certificates. In general, you’ll have to notify the following:
You’ll have to call the HR department of the deceased’s employer. Ask about any life insurance policy through the company, benefits, or any pay due.
Life Insurance Company
You’ll then have to make claims on any policy the deceased may have had. On that note, you must also remind other family members that have the deceased as their beneficiary on their policy.
Social Security Administration
If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, you have to put a stop to the checks. Take this opportunity to ask if there are any survivor benefits, as well.
The Veterans Administration may also be making monthly payments to the deceased. You may also ask about any benefits.
Take Care of the Deceased’s Accounts
You’ll also have to handle the deceased’s bank accounts, credit accounts, and such. Close bank accounts and credit cards by sending a death certificate. You may have to settle payments first, though.
Send a death certificate to the major firms, as well: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. This will prevent identity theft; pay attention to this as 2.5 million cases of stolen identities from deceased individuals happen each year.
You’ll also have to close the utility services of the deceased and any other insurance policies, like home and auto.
Don’t Hesitate to Seek Support
While taking care of all the things the deceased left behind, don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. It’s unfortunate you can’t grieve without having to handle these matters. With the right type of support, however, you’ll be able to come out of this stronger.
At the least, you now know what to do when someone dies. Do you need further help? Don’t hesitate to check out our lifestyle and family guides for more.