Steps To Take When a Loved One Dies

Notify your loved one’s family and friends of their passing.

Make funeral arrangements. Determine if the deceased left any written instructions about burial or cremation or made other arrangements for their body.  They may have prearranged for their funeral with a funeral home. Hopefully, there will be documentation with their legal documents.  If you find written instructions, or if you know of verbal instructions, you should follow them as much as possible. You should make arrangements with a funeral home or otherwise, purchase a casket or urn, and order a headstone.  A funeral home will help you write an obituary if you want one. Your funeral director also can help you order death certificates, or you can order them yourself from the county health department.

Be sure to determine the costs up-front. The average funeral costs about $9,000, which is an enormous burden on a very small estate.  Someone will have to pay for the funeral if the estate is very small.

Secure major property.

Start the process of administering the Revocable Trust or process of probate of the will. If the estate is very significant, hopefully the deceased had their assets in a Revocable Trust, also known as a Living Trust.  Either way, large estate or small, you should contact an attorney experienced in handling estate administration soon after the death.  Attorneys at Birk Law Firm are experienced and are experts in handling estate administration and working people that are the trustee or personal representative of an estate or trust. Sometimes, in family law matters, another family member will dispute the Trust or Will, and the resolution of such disputes will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case.

Collect their mail or request the post office to forward mail. If the person lived alone, this will prevent mail from staying in the mailbox and making it obvious the residence is not occupied. The mail may also help you identify bills that need to be paid and accounts that should be closed. You’ll need to file a forwarding request at the post office and show proof that you are an appointed personal representative and authorized to manage his or her mail.

Contact the Social Security office. Your funeral director may have already done this, so find out if this is the case. Through Social Security you may be able to apply for survivor benefits.

Notify other applicable agencies.

Contact banks or mortgage companies. Take copies of the death certificate to each bank and change ownership of the accounts or gather information for probate. You may need a court order to open and inventory a safe deposit box if a key isn’t readily available.

Contact financial advisors or brokers. Work with each one to transfer ownership or gather information for probate. You’ll likely need a death certificate for each account.

Contact the deceased’s tax preparer. You may need to file a return for both the individual and the estate.  You will need to file a final 1040 for the partial year in which your loved one died, unless their income was low enough to not require filing.

Notify life insurance companies. Complete claim forms for any life insurance policies insuring the life of the deceased

Cancel insurance policies.

Identify and pay important bills.

Close credit card accounts. You will need to call customer service and then email or mail a copy of the death certificate.


Why Choose Birk Law?

Birk Law Firm is a small firm by choice that is big on client services. Attorney Kelvin Birk and his team are responsive to their clients’ needs. When we sign on as your law firm, you can count on us for strong legal counsel, from negotiations to settlement to trial.

Cape Girardeau Law Firm Kelvin BirkOur clients benefit from the intertwining of Kelvin Birk’s legal and CPA background and experience. We provide well-rounded advice to solve both legal and financial issues and to come up with creative solutions. We use modern technology to deliver legal services in a more efficient and client-focused manner than was previously possible.

We provide personalized and compassionate service. We believe that each client’s matter is the most important matter in the world to them, and we strive to treat it that way.


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