What To Do When Someone Dies: Checklist For Loved Ones

Lost a loved one? Discover what to do when someone dies with our helpful checklist. Guidance for difficult times ahead.

What to do when someone dies from your family? It seems like a very easy question that you grieve and hold a funeral through a funeral home, employing a memorial service. Invite people from family, extended family, and acquaintances. But no, it’s not that simple!

It is a very intricate process and it is better to be thorough and articulate in your approach, irrespective of the fact that you’re truly heartbroken. The best approach is to make a checklist and go accordingly.

Here are the steps that you need to follow to ensure that all his physical, and online accounts are safely closed without identity theft. Similarly, this is how you ensure that his assets in every form are liquidated in accordance with the bylaws of the court. And you can make sure that his debts or credit card loans are paid off.

Most importantly you have to ensure that his property, his house, and his kids, elderly, or pets dependent on him on a daily basis, are taken care of. Here is a complete, comprehensive, and easy guide to what you have to do, and how?

1. Get an Official Declaration of Death

The death certificate is a vital document that is needed for canceling the subscriptions of the deceased person. His life insurance claims get approval with a copy of the death certificate too. In case you want to close his bank account, you’d need his death certificate, as well.

The death certificate is only issued by a medical practitioner, medical examiner or the coroner, as per the CDC rules and regulations.

2. Arrange Transportation for the Body

After the death of a person, generally, two scenarios can present themselves. Either he died in a hospital or at home. If he died in hospice care, the medical staff will take care of transportation of the corpse to the funeral home, mortuary, or crematorium. But if he passed away at home, you’d have to call the funeral home directors.

Funeral home directors send over officials to collect his dead body and deliver it to the funeral home, crematorium, or mortuary, whatever the case may be.

3. Ensure His Dependents Have Care

The next step in the checklist is to get correct information on how many children he has, the number of elderly at his home, and his pets who were dependent on him. This dependence is usually of a very intimate nature, they are reliant on the expired person for daily care and many tasks.

Firstly, try to get the will of the dead guy and read whom he named as caretakers in case of his sudden or accidental death. If he forgot to write a will, this is not an ideal case and you’d have to visit his place and cater for direct dependents.

If there are any immediate aunts or uncles, grandparents, or great-grandparents, leave all dependents at their place right away. The worst-case scenario for the dependents is usually if the state interferes and puts them in foster care.

4. Tell Family and Friends

Now make a list of all his family members and friends. Engage one more person with yourself and divide the contact numbers between you two. Get to calling these people. Relaying the news of the death of a close family member might be one of the worst life experiences you’d be getting but, nevertheless, it is mandatory, at the moment.

After telling the family and friends, inform the employers right away especially if the person who died was a teacher or a medical practitioner. In such professions, social engagement is thorough.

After this, you have to call and inform all the financial institutions he was working with such as his bank, his insurance agency, and his medical facilitators.

5. Secure the Home

A sudden death usually is a chaotic event due to which the doors, windows, and gates of the house are sometimes left open. Similarly, the alarm systems for intruders and fire-fighting systems might be left switched off.

Visit the empty house, and ensure all doors, windows, and gates are locked. Put on the fire alarm system and intruder alarm system right away. Do not let people gather or use the house since it can lead to bigger consequences, later on. These might include property theft or house property violation. Who would pay for all that later on? So prevention is better than cure!

6. Find Emotional Support

There are many ways for family members and relatives to find emotional support in this time of turmoil. There are many emotional support groups one can sign up with. Likewise, you can get emotional and financial support from licensed agents like the Red Cross.

You can also join the church support groups and talk to people to cope with the trauma. Loners can read books related to stress management after the death of loved ones. They can watch support videos on YouTube too.

7. Prepare for Their Affairs

The following step is to get hold of all his vital documents such as:

  1. A will
  2. Account statements
  3. Debt records
  4. Identification documents
  5. Tax returns
  6. Credit reports

8. Make Final Arrangements

Review final wishes

Read the will in detail and ask the closest family members what his wishes for his funeral ceremony were. Now with the common consent of the close loved ones, decide how you guys want to dispose of the corpse, and how to go about the funeral ceremony. Try to honor the wishes of the expired person.

Check your budget 

Now consult his bank statements, and his life insurance policies and calculate how much is available for conducting his funeral. If he had opted for burial insurance, see how much its death benefit payout is, and make a claim, this money would be available to you in 24-48 hours.

If he had outstanding mortgage loans or huge credit card debts, try to save whatever you can from the payout. Though the burial insurance offers minimal coverage for funerals only.

Shop around

Call different funeral homes and memorial services, and get their rates. Compare them and decide on the one that is best suited for your dead relative. Hand over the paycheck from burial insurance to the funeral home and let them arrange the funeral.

Decide how to handle the body 

In accordance with the will of the deceased, dispose of the corpse. Choose cremation, natural burial or entombment, whichever he mentioned in his will.

Plan funeral and memorial services

Within your budget constraints, hold the funeral ceremony and invite all family members, friends, and acquaintances. 


9. Notify His Extended Contacts

This is the time for notifying all the extended contacts such as acquaintances, professional contacts, old high school friends, service providers, and more distant relatives like a step-sibling or second cousins.

10. Copy and Distribute the Death Certificate

One of the final steps in the completion of post-death effective management is to get copies of the death certificate made and disperse them amongst these, this is also an obligation:

Social security administrator, pension administrator, annuity provider, family court, financial advisor, financial institutions, life insurance company, homeowner’s insurance companies, auto insurance companies, earthquake insurance companies, renters’ insurance companies, flood insurance companies, government agencies, credit agencies, and veteran affairs. 

11. Manage His Online Accounts

In order to ensure that his online accounts are not available for hackers or identity theft, it is better to adopt a proactive approach and shut them off yourself.

  1. Email accounts such as Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, or Outlook.
  2. Social media profiles from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, Reddit, LinkedIn, Nextdoor, and YouTube.

12. Final Arrangements with Grace

Coping with the sudden death of any loved one is a troublesome and treacherous event. But it is necessary to pre-plan and cope better with post-death planning. It can help deal with emotional and financial turmoil during a disturbing time. In the end, always remember, this too shall pass!