person hugging and comforting senior

When an older loved one dies, there are a variety of personal and legal details that must be handled. Knowing what to do and where to begin can be challenging while dealing with grief. To help alleviate some of the stress during this time, our care professionals have created the following guide so you will know exactly what should be taken care of when someone you love dies.

Step One: Right Away

  • Obtain a declaration of death. Depending upon your loved one’s location at the time of passing, this may be supplied by a hospice nurse, or staff in a hospital or long-term care facilty. If you’re taking care of the person at your home without the support of healthcare providers, call 911. EMTs will provide transport to the ER for a legal pronouncement of death.
  • Tell friends and family. There are many approaches to do this, based on what is most preferable for your needs. You might want to personally reach out to every person through a phone call, email, or face-to-face visit. You may want to request assistance, assigning others to contact a specific group of people (i.e., neighbors, faith community members, friends, etc.) to help spread the news. Or perhaps you may want to post on social media, allowing you to make one announcement that reaches everyone in the person’s circle of contacts.
  • Organize a gathering with immediate family to discuss funeral plans. If your loved one had prepaid/preplanned final arrangements, review those plans with immediate family. If not, you can begin the conversation on preliminary information: which funeral home you would like to go with, the funds available to pay for services, and any high-level details that you want to be sure to add.

Next Steps: Within 2 or 3 Days of Passing Away

  • Put together funeral plans. With the information from your initial family meeting, meet with the funeral home personnel to work through the specifics:
    • Will the person be cremated or buried?
    • Which type of casket or urn will you want?
    • Where will the funeral or memorial service take place?
    • Who will write the obituary? Serve as pallbearers? Speak at the service? Write thank-you notes? Organize a post-funeral gathering?
  • Make sure the home and any valuables are safe and secure. Lock up any jewelry, cash, or other precious possessions, as well as the person’s house and car. Also, in the event that person had any pets, identify who can take over ownership – making certain they receive plenty of care and attention, as they will be impacted by the loss and adjustments too.
  • Forward mail. The post office can set up a forwarding order so that the individual’s mail will be redirected to the appropriate person handling their affairs. The designated person will also have to keep track of mail to stop subscriptions and services, manage any bills, etc.

Later Steps: Two Weeks After Passing

  • Pull together paperwork. Ask for ten certified copies of the death certificate, which will be needed to close bank accounts, file insurance claims, and more. The funeral home may help you with this, or you can obtain them yourself from the state vital records office. You’ll also need to find the person’s will and determine who the executor is.
  • Speak to a lawyer and CPA. An attorney, chosen by the executor, will ease the task of resolving the estate and distributing possessions. A CPA can help with filing a final tax return on the person’s behalf.
  • Alert other organizations. The funeral home should contact the Social Security Administration, but you will want to confirm this. Also, if the person had life insurance coverage, this is the time to file a claim. Talk to the person’s bank(s), stockbrokers, and financial advisers to find out the beneficiary of each account and provide a copy of the death certificate. You’ll also need to close any credit card accounts and get in touch with the DMV to cancel their driver’s license.

When an older loved one dies, there is frequently a surviving spouse who needs care and support. Abby Senior Care, a trusted provider of senior in-home care in Denver and the surrounding areas, can help. Our team is here to provide companionship to reduce loneliness, prepare nutritious meals, assist with bathing, dressing and much more. Let us help so that you can focus on the details following a loved one’s passing. Contact us at 303-699-8840 to learn more about our home care services.