8 Steps to Take When a Family Member Passes Away

Estates and Wills in Baton Rouge, LA

When a family member passes away, their spouse or loved ones have a lot of legal actions they need to take. If you’ve never handled the death of a loved one before, there are 8 key steps which need to be taken to ensure that the person’s affairs are in order.

Immediate Steps to Take

Setup Funeral Arrangements

Contact the mortuary and the funeral home. A funeral home will allow you to make arrangements and may even help with contacting the Social Security Administration if necessary. If your loved one left behind specific instructions pertaining to their final wishes in their will, ensure that they have been carried out accordingly.

Notify Family and Important Persons

Notify family members, employers, lawyers, and accountants. Lawyers that handled any will or estate documentation should be consulted immediately to ensure arrangements are made in accordance to the person’s will. Accountants familiar with the person’s financials will be able to further help prepare final tax documentation that needs to be sent to the IRS.

Notify Agencies

Benefits provided to a person when they are alive must be stopped upon their death. The following agencies may need to be contacted:

  • Social Security Administration

  • Pension Offices

  • Medicaid Offices

  • Veteran’s Affairs

  • Utility offices, credit card companies and various other entities will also need to be notified

Property Management Steps

Secure Possessions

Secure the person’s assets. Lock the doors to their home, put their vehicle in a garage and do everything in your power to essentially freeze the assets until they are distributed legally. Contact the homeowner’s insurance company to notify them of the home no longer being occupied, and contact the local post office to put a halt to any mail being sent to the home. A death certificate will likely be needed.

Locate Important Documentation

Outstanding bills, wills, and trusts will need to be gathered. Life insurance policies or any other important documentation should be collected and kept in a safe area. You’ll need to make contact with these entities in the future.

Make an Inventory of Assets

A full inventory of the person’s assets should be documented. This is everything from properties to automobiles and money. Bank accounts, investment accounts, and retirement accounts must be included.


Final Steps

Make Claims

After the death certificate is provided, it’s time to make claims. These claims can be made for life insurance, retirement accounts, pension accounts, and so on. A lawyer will be able to help you during this time to ensure that all of the appropriate claims are made.

Settle the Estate

The final step to take is to settle the estate. Probate will be needed in most cases to ensure that all of the person’s debts have been settled. If a will has been made, assets will be distributed according to the person’s last wishes. If the estate has been put into a trust, the executor of the trust will have to pay any expenses and distribute the property to any beneficiaries.

The death of a loved one can be a difficult thing to deal with. If a family member has passed and you need help settling an estate, call Waitz & Downer at (985) 876-0870. Our expert wills & estate planning attorneys are here to get you through difficult times.