Massachusetts Center for Estate Planning and Administration

What To Do When Someone Passes Away

What do I need to do now? That is a typical question that many ask after the loss of a loved one. The following points should be considered soon after someone passes away, and not all of the points may necessarily apply to all people, but many of them will.

  1. Obtain the decedent’s death certificate. The coroner or funeral director can assist you with this.
  2. If the death occurred at home, you may contact a local police officer or coroner.
  3. If the decedent was an organ donor, a donation of body parts and tissues should be considered.
  4. Notify family and friends. You may want to consider having other family members make these calls to save yourself time.
  5. Look for instructions which the decedent may have left regarding preferences for funeral and burial arrangements.
  6. Determine if the decedent belonged to a burial or memorial society that may make special arrangements for the funeral, such as military honor guards.
  7. Contact a funeral home concerning burial or cremation arrangements.
  8. Complete funeral and burial arrangements.
  9. Contact the Social Security Administration and any other government agencies or benefit programs that may be making payments to the decedent.
  10. Review the decedent’s financial and legal affairs. Look for any wills, trusts, or other estate planning documents and also the following relevant documents:

    • Funeral and Burial Plans
    • Safe Deposit Box Agreements and keys
    • Nuptial Agreements
    • Life Insurance Policies
    • Pension or other Retirement Benefits
    • Old tax returns
    • Prior gift tax returns
    • Marriage, birth, and death certificates
    • Divorce documentation
    • Computer records regarding books of a business or personal assets
    • Bank statements, checkbooks, and similar documents
    • Notes receivable
    • Titles to motor vehicles
    • Leases
    • Securities
    • Any documentation regarding business ownership or business interests
    • Health insurance claim submissions for the final illness
    • Unpaid bills

Massachusetts Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts

Probate Lawyer Locations

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