What To Do When a Loved One Dies

Call the doctor; If the death was violent, suspicious or accidental, call the police.

Get a friend with good coping skills to help you, fast!

  1. Organ donor? Did the deceased sign an organ donor instrument?
  2. Planning the funeral (Did the deceased have a preference for a simple or elaborate funeral?)
    • embalming is not required
    • casket may be a simple pine box
    • if the body will be cremated, no casket is needed
    • take along a friend to help make cost comparisons and arrangements
    • secure your home and any other real estate against burglary, especially during the time of viewings, the funeral, etc.
  3. Find the will – even if the safe-deposit box has been sealed, you may remove the will, a cemetery deed and life insurance policies.
  4. Collect the papers you will need
    • house deed
    • title to cars
    • outstanding loans
    • tax returns
    • bank books
    • brokerage statements
    • stock certificates
    • at least 10 copies of the death certificate (ask the undertaker)
    • life insurance policies
  5. Apply for life-insurance benefits – your insurance agent can handle this for you, or send a copy of the death certificate directly to the insurance company.
  6. File for government benefits
    • Social Security death benefit to surviving spouse
    • Social Security benefits for widows with children under the age of 16
    • Veterans’ benefits – check with the nearest Veterans Administration Office
  7. Contact the personnel department or employer where the deceased worked to find out if there was
    • life insurance
    • vested interest in company savings or investment plans
    • survivors’ benefits in pension plans
  8. Don’t ignore bills – if you must delay payment, inform creditors of the reason to protect your credit.
  9. Write a new will, and change the beneficiaries on your own life insurance policy, if necessary.