Advanced Directives / Powers of Attorney

Important Things To Do Following The Loss of a Loved One

This article is intended for educational purposes only and not as legal advice. Should you require legal advice for
your matter, please consult a Houston Probate Attorney.

It’s hard to consider all the arrangements that must be made when a loved one dies. A checklist will help ease the burden of sorting through the details in the days and weeks following a loved one’s death.

Before the death of a loved one, you should inquire into your loved one’s wishes about funeral and burial arrangements, cremation and organ donation. Be sure your loved one has a properly drafted Will and/or Trust document and Advanced Directives such as Powers of Attorney, a Living Will, Designation of Guardian, HIPAA Release and Do Not Resuscitate Orders. Know the location of the legal documents as well as birth/marriage/divorce records, Social Security and Veteran’s information, asset and financial information, life insurance records, safe deposit information and keys.

6 Things to Do Following the Death of a Loved One

Immediately following a death, there are many things to do in addition to phone calls to friends and relatives.

  1. Obtain a legal pronouncement of death. If your loved one dies in a hospital, nursing home, a rehabilitation center, or other assisted living facility, a doctor, nurse, or physician’s aide will be able to make a pronouncement of death. If your loved one dies at home under hospice care, the hospice nurse can make a pronouncement of death. If your loved one dies at home not under hospice care, Emergency services can come to the home but will normally start CPR without a Do Not Resuscitate Order. An emergency room doctor can make a pronouncement of death.
  2. After you receive the pronouncement of death, arrange for your loved one’s body to be taken to the funeral home or crematorium.
  3. Inform your loved one’s doctor or the county coroner.
  4. Call close friends and family to let them know about the death. Relatives can set up chain calls to other friends and family members.
  5. Ask a close friend or relative to watch over your loved one’s dependents, pets and home.
  6. Contact your loved one’s Priest, Minister, Pastor, Rabbi or other spiritual advisor.

3 Things To Do Within a Few Days Following the Death of a Loved One

Within a few days following the death of a loved one, you will need to make arrangements for the funeral and burial or cremation.

  1. Make funeral and burial or cremation arrangements and coordinate with your religious affiliations. If your loved one had a pre-paid burial plan, many of the decisions have already been made. Be sure to check military or fraternal organization benefits.
  2. Write an obituary. The funeral home can help you with this. Also contact your local newspaper if you plan to make a formal announcement of the death.
  3. Call your loved one’s employer. At the same time, make sure that you request information about benefits and back pay that may be due. Ask employer who to contact about life insurance and retirement plans.

8 Things To Do Within Weeks Following a Loved One’s Death

In the weeks following the death of your loved one, you will need to begin to settle your loved one’s affairs. Settling affairs means that you will be contacting governmental agencies, financial institutions, and beginning the probate process.

  1. Request copies of the death certificates.
  2. Contact governmental agencies like Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare.
  3. Contact your loved one’s banks, accountant, investment advisor and life insurance agent.
  4. Contact the USPS and have mail forwarded or held.
  5. Notify the police to periodically check on the home if it will be vacant.
  6. If whereabouts known, locate your loved one’s Will and notify the Executor of the Will.
  7. If possible, locate important documents and inventory the safe deposit box.
  8. If you are named in your loved one’s Will as Executor or there is no Will, contact a Probate Attorney. Your probate attorney can ensure that all the proper documents are filed with the probate court, as well as advising you on the necessary steps in order to comply with Texas law.

To contact a Houston Probate Attorney, call Stephanie Mudgett Boates 281-584-0034.