Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences we can go through as human beings. Oftentimes, being close to the deceased comes with a lot of responsibilities, even at the cost of taking the time to grieve for them. While that can be stressful, it’s also a sign of the amount of trust the deceased had in you, and that’s enough to keep you going. If you’ve been placed in this difficult position and unsure of the legal matters you need to attend to, we’re here to help ease some of the burdens you’re carrying.
Starting from announcing death to bidding them goodbye, here’s what you need to think about in case a loved one passes away.
Announcement of Death and Funeral
Unless your loved one passed away in a hospital, in which case the medical staff will take care of announcing the time of death, you’ll need to get a legal pronouncement of death. This official announcement will be the first step into getting a death certificate, which you’ll need for various legal affairs. In case the death was unexpected or has occurred under suspicious circumstances, you’ll need to call both a medical professional and local law enforcement to investigate the circumstances of the death.
Once you get the official announcement of death, you’ll be able to move in preparing for the funeral. It’s important to check the deceased’s will to look for pre-arrangements or wishes regarding the funeral. Many people leave the details of the way they want their funeral to be carried out and their burial in their wills, and you’ll want to respect their wishes. Such plans may also cover the expenses of the funeral and burial. Once you settle on the details of the funeral and burial, you’ll alert their family, friends, and close acquaintances of the time, date, and venue.
Will and Estate Plan
After the commotion of the funeral passes, you’ll direct your attention to their will and estate plan, if they’ve left behind any. Do your best in locating the will and estate plan, as that will take away the big burden that otherwise comes with going into probate. To do that, you’ll search through their documents and contact their lawyer to get a copy of the most recent will update. You might find multiple documents in case the deceased had owned properties overseas or across different states; make sure to keep them as well as you’ll need them down the road.
Once you get all the needed documents, the best course of action will be to meet up with an estate attorney. With years of estate experience under their belt, the estate planning attorneys at Alpharetta explain at atlantaestatelawcenter.com/alpharetta-estate-planning-attorney/ how seeking the help of an experienced estate lawyer can ease a significant load off your shoulders in such an overwhelming emotional situation. Especially in cases where the will is invalid or missing, you’ll need the lawyer to guide you through the ropes of the probate process. Once you present them with the latest copies of the deceased’s documents, they’ll tell of the next steps you need to take to execute the will. You’ll then pay the lawyer fees from the deceased’s account and notify the benefactors about the will execution.
There are a few authorities you’ll need to notify about the death of your loved one. These authorities include the following:
- Insurance companies, to which you’ll need to provide the death certificate and policy numbers.
- Financial institutes like banks and credit unions, which will also require a death certificate. Alternatively, you can close their accounts if you have their passwords.
- The social security administration, where you’ll stop the checks of social security benefits and check in case their surviving family members are eligible for death benefits.
- Credit agencies to prevent any chances of identity theft.
- The IRS to obtain a Tax ID number to authorize activity on behalf of the estate.
- Creditors in case of outstanding debts, in which case the debt will be repaid from the estate.
Finally, you’ll take care of all open accounts the deceased had used in their life. This includes canceling their driver’s license, memorizing or deleting social media accounts, and closing email accounts. Most of these tasks are necessary to prevent identity theft, they also serve in honoring their memory.
Between grieving for the loss of your loved one and trying to honor their trust in you by taking care of their affairs, legal matters can get pretty complicated. To ensure that all affairs are in proper order, you’ll start with getting a death certificate and carrying out a funeral. Next, come to the estate process and will execution. Other legal matters include notifying authorities and closing any active accounts.