When a parent passes away, there are a number of personal and legal details that must be handled. Knowing what to do and where to begin can feel overwhelming, particularly while navigating grief.
Step One: Immediately
- Obtain a declaration of death. Depending on the person’s location at the time of passing, this may be supplied by hospital staff, a hospice nurse, or the doctor in a long-term care facility. If you’re taking care of the person at your home without the support of medical experts, call 911. EMTs will provide transport to the ER for a legal pronouncement of death.
- Inform family and friends. There are plenty of approaches to do this, based on what is most comfortable for you. You may want to personally reach out to each individual through a phone call, email, or in-person visit. You may want to ask for assistance, designating others to contact a particular group of people (for example neighbors, faith community members, friends, etc.) to aid in spreading the news. Or perhaps you may want to post on social media, allowing you to make one statement that reaches everyone in the person’s circle of acquaintances.
- Plan a meeting with immediate family to talk about funeral arrangements. In the event that the senior had prepaid/preplanned final arrangements, review those plans with immediate family. If not, you can begin the conversation on preliminary details: which funeral home you would like to use, the budget available, and any high-level details that you want to be certain to incorporate.
Step Two: Within a Couple of Days of Passing Away
- Make funeral arrangements. Using the information from your initial family meeting, meet with funeral home personnel to work through the essentials:
- Will the individual be buried or cremated?
- What type of urn or tombstone might you want?
- Where will the funeral or memorial service be held?
- Who will write the obituary? Act as pallbearers? Speak at the service? Take care of thank-you notes? Arrange for a post-funeral gathering?
- Make sure the property and any valuables are secure. Lock up any cash, jewelry, or other valuable items, as well as the person’s home and car. In addition, if the person had any pets, identify who can take over ownership – ensuring that they receive a lot of attention and care, as they will be impacted by the loss and changes too.
- Forward mail. The post office can set up a forwarding order so the individual’s mail will be redirected to the appropriate person dealing with their affairs. The designated person will have to keep track of mail to end subscriptions and services, manage any bills, etc.
Step Three: Two Weeks After Passing
- Pull together paperwork. Ask for ten certified copies of the death certificate, which will be necessary to file insurance claims, close bank accounts, and more. The funeral home can help you with this, or you can get them yourself through the state vital records office. You will also need to find the person’s will and determine who the executor is.
- Talk with a lawyer and CPA. A lawyer, chosen by the executor, will ease the task of settling the estate and dispersing possessions. A CPA can help with filing a final tax return on the person’s behalf.
- Alert other entities. The funeral home should contact the Social Security Administration, but you will want to verify this. In addition, if the person had a life insurance plan, now is the time to file a claim. Talk to the person’s bank(s), stockbrokers, and financial advisers to determine who beneficiary of the accounts and supply a copy of the death certificate. You’ll also need to close any credit card accounts and get in touch with the Department of Motor Vehicles to cancel their driver’s license.
When a parent passes away, there is often a surviving spouse who needs care and support. Morning Glory Home Care, a trusted provider of elder care in Belleville, IL and the surrounding communities, is here to help. Our team can assist with personal care needs, plan and prepare nutritious meals, provide friendly companionship to ease loneliness, and much more. Let us help so that you can focus on the administrative details following a loved one’s passing. Call us at 618-667-8400 to learn more about our in-home care services.