The Post-Death Checklist: Navigating the Essential Steps After a Loved One's Passing

Losing a loved one is emotionally overwhelming, and the practical tasks that must be addressed often add to the difficulty.


Saeid Kian

Losing a loved one is emotionally overwhelming, and the practical tasks that must be addressed often add to the difficulty.

To help guide you through this process, Ribbon compiled a general post-death checklist outlining the essential steps that need to be taken when someone dies.

  • Obtain a Death Certificate: You will need multiple copies of the death certificate for various purposes, including legal and financial matters. Typically, the funeral home can assist you in obtaining these. Ribbon generally recommends getting a minimum of ten death certificates, if not more, as it's easiest to obtain these up front.
  • Notify Close Friends and Family: Reach out to family and close friends to inform them of the loss. Social media or email can also be used for this purpose. You may also want to notify groups or social clubs that your loved one was a part of.
  • Make Funeral Arrangements: Contact a funeral home or cremation service to make the necessary arrangements. Discuss burial or cremation options, the service, and any specific wishes the deceased had expressed.
  • Gather Important Documents: Locate the deceased's important documents, such as their will, life insurance policies, bank statements, and any other financial records.
  • Notify Relevant Parties: Inform the deceased's employer (if applicable), creditors, and any government agencies. Contact Social Security if the person was receiving benefits.
  • Handle Legal Matters: Consult an attorney, if necessary, to navigate legal matters like probate, will execution, and distributing assets.
  • Close Financial Accounts and Subscriptions: Notify banks, credit card companies, and other financial institutions of the death. Close or transfer accounts as needed. Cancel or transfer utilities, subscriptions, and services (e.g., cable, internet, phone, and magazine subscriptions) associated with the deceased's name.
  • Insurance Claims: File claims with life insurance companies, pension providers, and any other insurance policies the deceased held.
  • Secure the Home: Ensure the safety and security of the deceased's home. Lock doors and windows, and consider notifying the local police or neighborhood watch.
  • Address Digital Assets: If the deceased had online accounts and digital assets, decide how to manage or close them. This may include social media profiles, email accounts, and online subscriptions.
  • Donations and Charities: Determine if the deceased had any preferences regarding charitable donations or memorial funds.
  • Vehicle and Property: If the deceased owned a vehicle or property, decide whether to sell, transfer ownership, or continue payments.
  • Review Health Care Directives: If the deceased had healthcare directives or end-of-life wishes, make sure they are honored.
  • Taxes and Final Bills: Attend to any outstanding bills and consider consulting a tax professional to handle the deceased's final tax returns.
  • Emotional Support: Seek support from friends, family, or a grief counselor. It's essential to take care of your emotional well-being during this challenging time.
  • Plan a Memorial Service: Coordinate a memorial service or celebration of life to remember and honor the deceased.
  • Final Resting Place: If burial or interment is chosen, select a cemetery plot or urn for cremated remains.
  • Distribute Assets: Once legal matters are settled, distribute the deceased's assets and belongings according to their wishes or as specified by law.
  • Seek Legal Guidance: If you encounter complexities or disputes, consult with an attorney experienced in estate and probate law.

While this post-death checklist provides a general overview of the essential steps to take after a loved one's passing, remember that it's crucial to proceed at your own pace and seek help when needed. Coping with grief is a deeply personal journey, and there is no specific timeline for completing these tasks. Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends and family, and don't hesitate to seek professional guidance when dealing with legal and financial matters. In time, you'll find a sense of closure and be able to cherish the memories of your loved one.

Ribbon can help with some of the above, like closing accounts, transferring assets, and helping you find your inheritance. Reach out to us if we can be of help and we'll do our best to support you.

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Author -

Saeid Kian

CEO & Co-Founder of Ribbon

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