Steps to Take After a Loved One Dies

naperville estate planning lawyerAfter a loved one dies, it can be difficult to know what steps to take. There is so much going on, and most people are not in the right mindset to be handling financial and estate matters after the death of a family member. Many people in this situation get overwhelmed and accidentally miss important steps. If someone close to you has recently passed away, make sure to address the following concerns. 

Tasks After a Family Member Passes Away 

If a very close friend, spouse, parent, sibling, or other loved one dies, you may need to address several important concerns. Your duties are especially important if you are the executor of the deceased person’s estate. You will likely be dealing with a lot of grief, so it may be helpful to enlist help from other friends and family members while you deal with these issues. 

  • Contact Social Security – If the deceased was receiving social security benefits, those payments will stop after death. The surviving spouse or minor children may be eligible for benefits, however. 
  • Notify the Decedent’s Life Insurance Company – If the deceased had life insurance, you will need to contact the company to start the claims process. 
  • Get in Touch With the Decedent’s Attorney – If your loved one had an estate plan in place, their lawyer can help you navigate probate and distribute assets according to their wishes. 
  • Contact Veterans Affairs – If the deceased was a veteran, you will need to notify Veterans Affairs. They can help with burial arrangements and may provide other benefits as well. 
  • Get Multiple Copies of the Death Certificate – You will need several official copies of the death certificate to settle the decedent’s affairs. 
  • Follow the Decedent’s Wishes Regarding the Funeral and Burial or Cremation – Ideally, the deceased person had already communicated his or her funeral and burial wishes before he or she passed away. Some people even have prepaid burial plans. If these matters were not already planned, you will need to choose a funeral home,  plan the funeral service, and decide whether to bury or cremate the body.
  • Handle Bank Accounts and Financial Assets – You will need to deal with the deceased’s bank accounts and other financial assets. You may need to close credit cards or remove the deceased person from joint credit cards, notify the mortgage company and utility companies of the decedent’s passing, retitle assets, and transfer real estate. 
  • Inform the DMV of the Death – You will need to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles so that they can cancel the deceased’s driver’s license. You may also need to deal with transferring ownership of any vehicles that are in the deceased person’s name.
  • Inventory the Decedent’s Assets and Take the Will to Probate – Once you have taken care of the deceased’s current financial affairs, you will need to inventory his or her assets. You may also need to file the will with the probate court and begin the process of distributing assets according to the terms of the will. 
  • File the Necessary Tax Returns – You may need to file a final income tax return for the decedent as well as an estate tax return. It may be a good idea to work with a CPA  to ensure that everything is done correctly. 

Call Us for Help

A good attorney can guide you through these steps and relieve some of the burden after a loved one dies. The death of a family member is always difficult, but you can get through it with the help of your friends, family, and a good attorney. The Naperville estate planning lawyers at the Gierach Law Firm can help you handle the legal aspects of settling your loved one’s affairs. Call us at 630-756-1160 today. 




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Please note: These blogs have been created over a period of time and laws and information can change. For the most current information on a topic you are interested in please seek proper legal counsel.

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