What to do When a Loved One Dies - A Survivor's Guide


Volume 8 • Issue 4 • April 2018

The Counselor is a monthly newsletter of Hallock & Hallock dedicated to providing useful information on estate planning, business succession planning and charitable planning issues. In this month’s issue, we are providing a checklist for what to do when a loved one dies. If you are interested in learning more about the ideas and processes discussed in this newsletter, please contact us for an initial consultation.

Sooner or later, each of us will be in a situation where we need to deal with the loss of a loved one.  We encourage our clients to take what time they need to grieve the loss and celebrate the life of their loved one, but there are things that may need to be addressed in handling their affairs.  This checklist is meant to assist those who have lost a loved one and are struggling with how to get started.  This checklist does not address the steps that are taken in administering the estate once the person is lawfully able to do so.


  • Contact the funeral home to take your loved one into their care.

  • Arrange for organ donation.

  • If applicable, contact appropriate ecclesiastical leader such as the deceased’s Bishop or Minister.

  • Alert immediate family members and close friends.

  • Locate any expressed wishes concerning funeral arrangements and disposition of remains.

  • Prepare obituary.

  • If employed, contact the deceased’s employer.

  • If applicable, notify agent under Power of Attorney.

  • Alert the personal representative (executor) of the deceased’s Will.

  • Notify religious, fraternal, and civic organizations that the deceased was a member of.

  • Notify the deceased’s estate planning attorney.

  • Notify the deceased’s financial advisor(s).

  • Arrange for the care of any dependents.

  • If the deceased had any pets, arrange for their immediate care.

  • Remove any valuables from the deceased’s home, secure the residence, and take steps to make the home appear to be occupied.

  • Arrange for the disposal of any perishables left in the deceased’s home- such as food, refrigerated items, and existing refuse.

  • Take necessary steps to secure any other assets of the deceased.

  • Alert the Post Office to forward the deceased’s mail.

  • Locate loved one’s important documents:

    • Will or Trust

    • Social Security card

    • Deed to burial plot

    • Copy of funeral prearrangements

    • Life insurance policies

  • Contact the funeral home to determine what information will be required in your state in order to finalize the death certificate.


  • Obtain certified copies (at least 10) of death certificate.

  • Contact the Social Security Administration and other government offices that may have been making payments to the decedent. If the decedent was your spouse, inquire about your eligibility for new benefits.

  • Cancel any credit cards.

  • Notify the Registrar of Voters.

  • If the deceased’s home is unoccupied, cancel unnecessary home services, such as newspaper delivery, cable service, etc.

  • Cancel deceased’s prescriptions.

  • Cancel the deceased’s driver’s license.

  • Cancel health insurance.


  • Consult with a qualified attorney about probate or estate administration and necessary steps to be taken.

  • Meet with a qualified accountant to discuss estate and/or income taxes.

  • File claims with life insurance companies.

  • If your loved one was a veteran, inquire about benefits that you may be entitled to through the VA.

  • Contact the deceased’s employer about any 401(k), pension, or company benefits.

  • Contact the deceased’s financial advisor to determine next steps in dealing with investment accounts.

  • Notify all 3 credit reporting agencies.

  • Obtain a current copy of the deceased’s credit report.

  • If the death was accidental, verify whether benefits are available on existing insurance policies.

  • Check for any life insurance benefits available through existing credit card or loan accounts.

If you have questions on what to do next, please feel free to call us to discuss your individual concerns.

This Newsletter is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Nothing herein creates an attorney-client relationship between Hallock & Hallock and the reader.