Checklist for the Loss of a Loved One

Immediately after Death:

  1. Call the Funeral Director
  2. Call your clergy person
  3. Notify immediate family members
  4. Decide on time and place of memorial service / funeral

Note: Check with estate attorney’s office for instructions re: memorial/funeral wishes

Discuss with Funeral Director:

  1. Obituary and newspaper which should publish it
  2. Select casket or arrange for cremation
  3. Select pall bearers/ushers (if desired)
  4. Select charity in leiu of flowers or select flowers
  5. Select place of burial / family plot
  6. Select call hours / reception after service (if desired)
  7. Discuss arrangments with clergy person
  8. Arrange for flowers – delivery and clean up after service
  9. Create guest list of family, friends, business colleagues and civil organizations

Let Friends:

  1. Notify the decedent’s other friends
  2. Answer phone/door
  3. Make record of calls, flowers, food donations
  4. Arrange child care
  5. Coordinate supply of food for next few days
  6. Special household needs
  7. Notify estate attorney
  8. Notify insurance company and social security administration
  9. Check on income for survivors
  10. Check on insurance death benefits
  11. Check on all debts
  12. Send acknowledgements for food, flowers and memorial donations
  13. In some way notify all family and friends who were not notified before the service

Legal Papers Checklist:

  1. Collect death certificates (from funeral home)
  2. Collect insurance policies
  3. Collect marriage license
  4. Collect birth certificate
  5. Collect Veteran’s benefit / discharge papers
  6. Collect social security number
  7. Collect most recent tax return

Estate Administration:

  1. Contact estate attorney office to probate Will and file federal and state estate tax returns
  2. Notify life insurance and annuity providers of death and begin collection of benefits
  3. Notify retirement plan providers of death and begin collection of benefits
  4. Notify VA of death and begin collection of VA survivor benefits, if any
  5. Notify Social Security Administration of death and begin collection of survivor benefits, if any
  6. Determine other employee benefits and begin notification and collection process
  7. Change titles and ownership of house
  8. Change titles and ownership of cars
  9. Pay off and cancel credit cards
  10. Retitle or cancel social memberships (return of bond where applicable)
  11. Collect and consolidate bank and brokerage accounts into an estate account from which taxes and administrative expenses are paid
  12. Search and inventory safe deposit box

Note: An estate attorney can guide you through the complex maze of administration and ensure that all assets and benefits are valued and reported properly to all applicable tax authorities, are distributed to the correct beneficiaries and comply with legal requirements (e.g., probate).