When Someone Dies

Death is never a pleasant experience — and when you are responsible for disposing of a loved one’s remains, the emotional burden makes it twice as hard. Don’t worry about what you need to do if a family member or friend dies — this checklist will make sure that nothing is forgotten.

First Steps

Checkmark-Iconcall the doctor — the doctor will probably call the coroner for you

Xmark-Icontry not to move anything until an official pronouncement is made

Checkmark-Iconmake note of the time of death — as near as you can

Xmark-Iconcontact friends or family for support during this difficult time

Checkmark-Iconkeep a running list of people to thank — for help, support, flowers, etc.

Legalities And Paperwork

Xmark-Iconcontact the local Registry Office with temporary death certificate

Checkmark-Iconsubmit the address, complete name, and date and place of birth and death

Xmark-Iconyou will receive a standard death certificate

Checkmark-Iconrequired to go through probate, file insurance claims, collect pensions, etc.

Xmark-Iconyou will receive a disposal certificate for burial or cremation

Checkmark-Iconcollect up the will, any estate documents, and insurance policies

Xmark-Iconget a copy of the death certificate from the attending doctor, coroner, or funeral home

Checkmark-Iconhave an attorney review the will to determine if you must go through probate process

Making Funeral Arrangements

Xmark-Icondecide on a funeral home and talk to the director about the arrangements

Checkmark-Iconlocate the person’s burial instructions and last wishes

Xmark-Icondetermine if the burial or cemetery plot has been pre-paid

Checkmark-Iconchoose a location, date, and time for the services

Xmark-Iconask for itemized list of funeral and burial costs and what they cover

Checkmark-Icondetermine if you want ashes scattered or in a container — for a cremation

Xmark-Iconlet mourners know if they should send flowers or charitable donations

Checkmark-Icondetermine if you want a “viewing” before hand — open or closed casket

Xmark-Icondecide on the prayers, music, and structure of the service

Checkmark-Iconmake preparations for food and beverages after the service

Notifying Others

Xmark-Iconuse the person’s address book to call friends and family personally

Checkmark-Iconcontact the person’s employer and co-workers

Xmark-Iconplace an obituary that town’s local newspaper

Checkmark-Iconinform any governmental agencies — social security, IRS, military, etc.

Xmark-Iconnotify any insurance agencies or financial institutions

Checkmark-Iconcontact the person’s attorney and executor of the will

Xmark-Iconcancel utility services

Checkmark-Iconnotify the post office and have mail re-directed

Xmark-Iconcancel rental lease or assume mortgage payments

Taking Care Of Financial Concerns

Checkmark-Iconall financial decisions must be made by the executor of the will

Xmark-Icon“grant of probate” allows payment of any debts still left open

Checkmark-Iconfind out who beneficiaries are on any insurance policies or other accounts

Xmark-Iconthese items are not considered part of the estate

Checkmark-Iconestate debts must be paid before inheritance is given out

Xmark-Iconremainder of assets will then be distributed according to the will

Checkmark-Iconsurvivors are not held personally liable for the deceased’s debts

When There Is No Will

Xmark-Iconall decisions must be made by spouse or closest other relative

Checkmark-Iconneed to contact an attorney for advice and guidance throughout process

Xmark-Iconcan get the necessary forms at the local probate office

Checkmark-Iconwill need to determine what assets the person owned and any debts owed

Xmark-Iconreturn required forms to probate with standard death certificate

Checkmark-Iconget Letters of Administration from probate to distribute the person’s assets

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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