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My Family Member Has Passed—What Do I Do Now?

As human beings, it is our nature to want to avoid the unpleasant tasks in life. In some cases, however, when those tasks are avoided, we can inadvertently leave a huge mess behind for our loved ones to untangle after our death. Since that is something most of us would also want to avoid, it is important we think of estate planning as a gift we leave behind for those we love. If you have a loved one who has died without an estate plan, you could be anxious and stressed about the tasks now facing you. You could be unsure how to proceed and unsure how your loved one would want his or her assets divided, what type of funeral service they would have wanted, and a thousand other questions will arise when you least expect it.

If you are dealing with the death of a loved one, Mark Gullotta can help you through the process in the easiest way possible. And, after you have dealt with your loved one’s death, it could be time to consider your own estate plan so your loved ones will not have to deal with the same problems you dealt with. Attorney Mark Gullotta is committed to keeping you informed throughout the estate planning process, providing a flexible plan which will grow with you and your family. Mark Gullotta will help you through your own loved one’s death and help you prepare for your own eventual death, making sure you achieve maximum protection for your family members.


What Should I Do Immediately Following the Death of My Loved One?

Immediately following the death of a loved one, there are several things you need to do as quickly as possible, including: 

  • Have the death legally pronounced;
  • If a DNR exists for the person, have it handy, if the person died at home or anywhere other than a hospital;
  • Arrange for organ donation if the person wanted to be an organ donor;
  • Arrange for transportation of the body;
  • Choose a funeral home;
  • If the person’s doctor was not present, notify him or her;
  • Notify close family and friends of the death;
  • If you are planning a funeral service, enlist help, arrange for a headstone, organize a post-funeral gathering, and spread the word about the service;
  • Prepare an obituary;
  • Make sure any dependents or pets are being taken care of; and
  • Contact the person’s employer if he or she was working. Ask about final benefits, including life insurance.


What Should I Do Later After the Death of My Loved One?

Within days or weeks of the death of the family member, you will need to do the following: 

  • You will need to request death certificates for the deceased family member. You can do this either through the Vital Statistics office in the county where the death occurred or through the funeral home. You will need several copies of the death certificate, as life insurance companies, banks and other financial institutions, and government agencies will all need a death certificate.
  • Probate the estate. If you are the named executor, you will take the will (if one exists) to an estate attorney who can help you through the process. If the family member died without a will, state law will provide a list of those who could serve as personal representative.
  • Contact an accountant or tax preparer to find out whether a final income tax return or estate tax return should be filed.
  • If the deceased had investments, you will contact the investment adviser for information on the holdings.
  • You will need to contact the bank to find accounts and safe deposit boxes.
  • If the person had life insurance, you will need to contact the life insurance agent to obtain claim forms.
  • Social Security should be notified, or if the person was collecting Veteran’s or other government benefits, you will need to stop payments and inquire as to applicable survivor benefits.
  • If the person was collecting a pension, the pension agency will need to be notified to stop monthly checks and obtain claim forms.
  • Don’t forget recurring monthly charges like gym memberships, home security systems, or club membership dues.
  • If the decedent’s home will be vacant, you can contact the local police department to have them periodically check up on the house.


How Will You Know What the Deceased Person Wanted?

Hopefully, your deceased family member let you know where his or her will is located, as well as other important documents, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, and divorce certificates, along with Social Security information, life insurance policies, financial documents, and keys to a home safe or safe deposit box. If your deceased family member did not discuss funeral arrangements, organ donation, and cremation or burial with you, you will need to see if these wishes are set forth in his or her estate plan.


How Attorney Mark Gullotta Can Help You Following the Death of a Family Member

Attorney Mark Gullotta offers 15-minute assessments and has been certified as one of the top attorneys of North America for the years 2015-2019. If you live in the San Mateo County area, and are facing probate for a loved one, or have been thinking about having an estate plan prepared, Mark Gullotta has been helping people just like you for more than 17 years. It can be difficult to handle the many details necessary following the death of a loved one. Mark Gullotta can handle all the legal details on your behalf, allowing you the time you need to grieve. Contact the Law Office of Mark Gullotta today.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this document is not legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created as a result of this presentation. The content is intended to be a general overview of the subject matter covered and is educational and informational only.