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Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences anyone can go through. During this time of mourning, it can be challenging to know what steps to take next. To help guide you through this difficult process, here are some important things to do when a loved one passes away. 

1. Notify Family and Friends 

The first step is to notify immediate family and close friends of the passing. This can be done by phone or email. You may want to consider enlisting the help of a close family member or friend to help you make these notifications. Remember to be sensitive to everyone’s needs and feelings during this emotional time. 

2. Make Funeral Arrangements 

Once family and friends have been notified, the next step is to make funeral arrangements. The funeral home or cremation service can help you with this process. It’s important to consider your loved one’s wishes, cultural or religious traditions, and your family’s budget when making funeral arrangements. 

If possible, our office highly recommends prepaying your funeral to ensure your wishes are carried out, and paid for in advance at today’s prices. 

3. Obtain Death Certificates 

You will need to obtain copies of the death certificate from the funeral home or the state where your loved one passed away. These certificates are required for various legal and financial mattersincluding settling an estate, filing a life insurance claim, and closing bank accounts. 

4. Secure the Deceased’s Property 

If the deceased’s property is unoccupied, it’s important to secure it as soon as possible. This may involve changing the locks or installing a security system to prevent theft or vandalism. You may also need to cancel any ongoing services, such as utilities or subscriptions. 

5. Notify Government Agencies and Employers 

You’ll need to notify various government agencies and the deceased’s employer of their passing. This includes the Social Security Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and any pension providers. 

6. Review Estate Planning Documents 

If your loved one had a will, trust, or other estate planning documents, it’s important to review them as soon as possible. These documents will outline how their assets should be distributed and who should be appointed as personal representative (formerly called executor) or trustee. If there are no estate planning documents, the assets pass by laws of “intestacy.” Each state has a lineage of “heirs at law” who inherit the estate in such an event. In any event, Will, Trust, or neither, it is highly recommended to work with an experienced estate administration/probate attorney to settle the estate of your loved one. 

7. Seek Legal and Financial Advice 

If you’re the personal representative (formerly called executor) or trustee of your loved one’s estate, it’s important to seek legal and financial advice. Settling an estate can be a complex process, and you may need help navigating various legal and financial matters, including paying off debts, filing taxes, and distributing assets. 

In conclusion, losing a loved one is a difficult experience, and it’s important to take the time to grieve and honor their memory. By following these important steps, you can ensure that their affairs are in order and that their wishes are respected. 

If you need help settling an estate or have any questions about the process, don’t hesitate to contact the Law Office of Julie Low to speak with an experienced estate administration and probate attorney.