What do I need to do after a spouse dies? You’ll likely have a lot to do immediately after their death. Beck & Lenox Estate Planning & Elder Law, LLC, recommends allowing supportive family members to assist you, as needed.
Katie Couric Media’s recent article entitled “What to Do Immediately After the Death of a Loved One” says that it’s normal to feel like your brain short circuits each time you try to make a decision and you find it hard to concentrate. Making it through the days after a loss will be painful. However, here are some things to do immediately and shortly after someone dies to make the process of grief a bit easier.
Plan ahead. This can make a big difference. It will let you have the time and space to grieve after death. This involves both talking about priorities and, ideally, talking to an elder law or estate planning attorney to create an estate plan.
Call 911 if they’re at home. To get a death certificate, first, you have to get an official declaration of death. If your loved one died at home without a medical professional present, a medical professional must declare them dead. Call 911 soon after they died and have them transported to a hospital, where they can be declared dead and moved to a funeral home.
Get organized. Make a list of the things people are doing for you and your family, and keep a folder to keep all the documents you’ll be given.
Get the death certificate — and make copies. Without a declaration of death, you can’t get a death certificate. You also won’t be able to handle the deceased’s legal affairs. Obtain a dozen copies of the death certificate from the funeral home because you’ll need these copies for things, such as insurance claims and closing accounts.
Read everything carefully. In your grief, haste and anxiety, it is easy to overlook things. Therefore, when it comes to things like the death certificate — which the funeral home staff often prepares based on the information you provide — the exact spelling of names matters. Draft the obituary and send it to a family member or close friend to review before submitting it to the funeral home.
Think through, or put off, financial decisions. Wait on making financial decisions. In times of distress, especially grief, your judgment may be clouded. So, unless a big purchase is absolutely necessary for the funeral or the burial, wait on other financial decisions.
Take a video of the home. It’s important to document what assets are in the home, such as any valuables, both of financial and sentimental value. A good way to do this is to record a video of the house. Record each room, and every detail. Be sure to open up cabinets and drawers. If there is ever an issue as to the person’s assets later, or even the insurance company, you have your video.
Overcoming sadness accompanied by grief is a terrific feat. Knowing what to do after a spouse dies, or any loved one, will allow you to function as you work through your sadness and grief.
Reference: Katie Couric Media (April 28, 2022) “What to Do Immediately After the Death of a Loved One”