A Guide To Help The Unavoidable To-Do List After Losing A Loved One.


 Immediately or in the first few days following the death

 Contact the funeral home to take your loved one into their care once the coroner or other official approves.

 Contact your Minister, Therapist, Social Worker, Friend

 Alert immediate family members and close friends.  Delegate others to help with notification calls. For example, notify one sibling and ask them to notify other siblings.

 If the deceased was employed, contact the employer.

 Notify religious, fraternal, and civic organizations of which your loved one was a member.

 Arrange for the care of any dependents with family, neighbors and friends.can 

 If the deceased has any pets, arrange for their immediate care neighbors with friends, family,  or until they can be rehomed

 Remove any valuables from the deceased’s home, secure the residence, perishables, and take steps to make the home appear to be occupied (for example, use of lamp timers).

 Cancel any scheduled appointments of the deceased (medical, dental, therapy, personal services such as haircuts).

 Alert the Post Office to forward the deceased’s mail.

 Locate loved one’s important documents:

 Birth certificate

 Social Security card

 Will, Power of Attorney or other directives

 Marriage license

 Military discharge papers (DD-214)

 Deed to burial property

 Copy of funeral prearrangements

 Life insurance policies

 If applicable, notify the designated Executor or person assigned legal Power of Attorney.

 Compile the following information that the funeral home will need to finalize the death certificate:

 Deceased’s first, middle, and last name __________________________

 Deceased’s Maiden Name (if applicable) _________________________

 Deceased’s Home Address_____________________________________

 Deceased’s Social Security Number______________________________

 Deceased’s Date of Birth_______________________________________

 Deceased’s Date of Death______________________________________

 Deceased’s Age______________________________________________

 Deceased’s Gender___________________________________________


 Marital Status________________________________________________

 Spouse’s first and last name____________________________________

 Deceased’s highest level of education attained_____________________

 Deceased’s Occupation________________________________________

 Deceased’s Place of Birth (City and State)__________________________

 Deceased’s Father’s Name______________________________________

 Birth City___________________________________________________

 Birth State__________________________________________________

 Deceased’s Mother’s Name_____________________________________

 Birth City___________________________________________________

 Birth State__________________________________________________

 If your loved one was a Veteran_________________________________

 Entered Service Date__________________________________________

 Entered Service Place_________________________________________

 Service Number______________________________________________

 Separated from Service Date____________________________________

 Separated from Service Place___________________________________

 Grade, Rank or Rating_________________________________________

 Organization and Branch of Service______________________________

  1. Two weeks after the death

 Notify your attorney regarding the possible probate of the estate.

 Contact the Social Security Administration and other government offices that may have been making payments to the deceased.  If the decedent was your spouse, inquire about your eligibility for new benefits. (Reach out to a Social Security professional if situations is out of the normal

 If the deceased’s home is unoccupied, cancel unnecessary home services such as cable or satellite, internet, phone, garbage, newspaper delivery, etc. 

 Cancel the deceased's prescriptions.

 Contact Life Insurance company

 Contact Bank

 Contact Credit Card Companies

 Contact Social Security Office for Benefits

 Make a list of monthly Bills / payments and look into auto bill pay to simplify this process

 Cancel unnecessary insurance (health, **auto, **homeowner’s or renter’s, etc).

**NOTE: Do not cancel auto and homeowner’s insurance until title has been transferred to a new owner.

III. One month after the death

 Consult with an attorney about probate.

 Meet with an accountant to discuss estate taxes.

 File claims with life insurance companies or notify beneficiaries to do so.

 Notify the Registrar of Voters.

 Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles to cancel the deceased driver's license and transfer titles.

 Contact the deceased’s employer. Inquire about any 401(k), pension, company benefits or unpaid wages to which the decedent may be entitled. (Reach out to a professional if situations is out of the normal)

 Obtain a current copy of the deceased’s credit report.

 Notify all 3 credit-reporting agencies of the death.

 Notify student loan accounts (If applicable)

 Research individual therapy and support group options.

 Consult with a financial expert with investment funds

 Contact deceased spouses (if spouse was employed and carried the health insurance policy) HR department regarding insurance coverage

 Notify all past employers

If the death was accidental, verify whether benefits are available on existing insurance policies.

 Check for any life insurance benefits available through existing credit card or loan accounts.

 If your loved one was a veteran, inquire about benefits that you may be entitled to through the VA. (Reach out to VA professional for additional questions out of the normal)

 File any outstanding claims for health insurance or Medicare.

 Obtain copies of the deceased's outstanding bills. (Consider paying if you need to keep services in place.)

 Locate and/or obtain other important paperwork necessary for the settlement of the estate:

 At least 3 - 5*** copies of the certified Death Certificate.

 Real estate deeds and titles.

 Stock certificates.

 Loan paperwork.

 Bank and retirement account statements.

 Last 2 years of tax returns.

 Advise all creditors email that a death has occurred.

 Change ownership of assets and lines of credit.

 Update your Will, Power of Attorney and Medical Directives if necessary.

 Update beneficiaries on your life insurance policies, if necessary.

 Send acknowledgement cards for flowers, donations, food, kindness. Also, remember to thank pallbearers, if any.

 Remove loved ones from marketing and mailing lists.

 Watch the deceased's mail (and email, if possible) to identify additional people or businesses that need to be notified.

*** NOTE:  Depending on the number of financial institutions, life insurance policies, vehicles, and property, you may need 10 or 20 certified copies.)


  1. AFTER A 2 - 3 MONTHS: 

Begin the process for filing federal and state income taxes. (Reach out to a trained Tax professional for additional questions out of the normal circumstances)

Follow up with anyone mentioned above or with legal professionals regarding probate. Depending on the family dynamics and specifics of the situation, professionals often recommend that major financial changes and decisions be delayed for 6-12 months following the death of a loved one. It’s understood that during highly emotional times it can be difficult to make good financial decisions. Consulting with professionals early on in the process can help minimize decisions that have unintended financial consequences. (Sometimes Tens of Thousands of Dollars)



Keep something of theirs with you at home, work, or somewhere special. 

Support a cause close to their heart, and yours.

Make a tribute donation to a nonprofit in their name.

Create a living reminder of them you can see daily.

Dedicate an event to their memory that you can do annually.

Start a new tradition for you, family or friends to participate in. 

Share their stories and photos on social media, photo albums or around your house.

Live your best life in their honor.

Make Your Loved Ones Favorite Meal…. Even if You Can’t Cook!

 Have a Movie Night and Watch Your Loved Ones Favorite Movie.

☐  Place a Memorial Bench Near Your Loved One’s Burial Site.

☐  Throw Them a Birthday Party.

☐  Give to Charity.

☐   Plant Something.

☐  Tattoos – a Permanent Reminder of Those You Lost.

☐  Create a Stamp of Your Loved One.

☐  Design a Custom Marker for Their Burial Site.

☐  Create a Quilt or Stuffed Animal from Their Clothes.

☐  Build Something in Their Honor

 ☐  Learn a New Skill (Particularly if It Was Something They Enjoyed Doing) 

☐  Visit Their Favorite Vacation Spot

☐  Create a Memorial Space in Your Home 

☐  Create a Scholarship in their Memory


1-800-827-1000 www.vba.va.gov/VBA

SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION 1-800-772-1213 www.ssa.gov/pgm/links_survivor.htm

EQUIFAX 1-800-685-1111 • www.Equifax.com
TRANS UNION  1-800-888-4213 • www.TransUnion.com
EXPERIAN         1-888-397-3742 • www.Experain.com






AFFIDAVIT - A sworn statement in writing made before an authority figure such as an attorney.

ADMINISTRATOR - Someone who is named to take charge of an estate or the assets of an individual who has died without leaving a will or formal instructions; similar to an “executor.”

CERTIFIED – In this use, it refers to something genuine that has been officially approved or issued by a recognized authority such as a certified death certificate from the County Health Department or document from a financial institution or an attorney.

DECEDENT – The individual who has died.
ESTATE – All of the things owned by the decedent such as property, household goods and monies.

EXECUTOR – Someone who is named in a will as the person who will make sure that the instructions in the will are properly followed.

INHERITANCE – Money, property or goods received from someone upon that individual’s death.

LIEN – A legal claim from a third-party on their property.

NOTARY – Also known as a Notary Public, a person authorized to perform certain legal formalities, especially to draw up or certify contracts, deeds and other documents. Usually you can find a Notary at your local bank.

TRUST – A legal arrangement where assets are managed by an individual or organization after someone dies.

WILL – A legal document in which a person states who will receive their possessions upon their death.

Additional Information And Details For Checklist:

☐  Contact family and friends: Inform your family and friends about the loss of your spouse. They can offer support and comfort during this difficult time.

☐  Notify employer and financial institutions: Inform your employer and financial institutions about the loss of your spouse. You may need to make arrangements for time off work and update account information.

☐  Obtain death certificate: Obtain a certified copy of your spouse's death certificate. You will need this for legal and financial purposes.

☐  Review estate plan: Review your spouse's estate plan, including their will, trust, and other legal documents. Consult with an attorney if necessary.

☐  Notify government agencies: Notify government agencies such as Social Security Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Motor Vehicles about the death of your spouse.

☐  Cancel or change accounts: Cancel or change any joint accounts or subscriptions that were in your spouse's name.

☐  Update beneficiaries: Update beneficiaries on any accounts or insurance policies that were in your spouse's name.

☐  Take care of yourself: Take care of yourself during this difficult time. Seek support from friends and family, and consider reaching out to a grief counselor or therapist.

☐  Make funeral arrangements: Arrange for the funeral or memorial service for your spouse. This may include deciding on a burial or cremation, selecting a funeral home, and choosing a date and time for the service.

☐  Notify insurance companies: Notify any insurance companies, including health, life, and car insurance, of your spouse's passing. You may need to cancel policies or make changes to your coverage.

☐  Notify credit bureaus: Notify credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your spouse's credit report to prevent identity theft.

☐  Collect important documents: Collect important documents such as marriage certificates, social security cards, birth certificates, and other legal documents.

☐  Determine finances: Determine your financial situation and expenses, including bills, debts, and ongoing expenses. Consider meeting with a financial advisor to help manage your finances.

☐  Consider support groups: Consider joining a support group or seeking grief counseling to help you cope with your loss.

☐  Consider legal assistance: Consider consulting with an attorney to help navigate legal issues such as probate, estate taxes, and property ownership.

☐  Notify utility companies: Notify utility companies of your spouse's passing and make arrangements to transfer or cancel services as needed.

☐  Address emotional needs of children: If you have children, address their emotional needs and seek out support resources for them as well.

☐  Plan for the future: Begin planning for the future, including updating your own estate plan, updating beneficiary designations, and making any necessary changes to your own financial and legal documents.

☐  Address outstanding debts: Determine if your spouse had any outstanding debts and make arrangements to pay them off.

☐  Notify employer of benefits: Notify your spouse's employer if they had any benefits, such as a retirement plan or life insurance policy.

☐  Update medical records: Update your medical records and inform your healthcare providers of your spouse's passing.

☐  Notify the post office: Notify the post office to forward or stop mail addressed to your spouse.

☐  Update legal documents: Update any joint legal documents, such as a power of attorney or healthcare proxy.

☐  Address pets: If you have pets, make arrangements for their care, such as finding a temporary caregiver or hiring a pet sitter.

☐  Notify clubs and organizations: Notify any clubs or organizations your spouse was a member of, such as a gym or social club.

☐  Consider social media: Decide how to handle your spouse's social media accounts, such as memorializing or deleting them.

☐  Consider donations: Consider making a charitable donation in memory of your spouse.

☐  Remember to take care of yourself during this time. Eat well, exercise, and get plenty of rest to help manage stress and promote overall health.

☐  Notify your attorney regarding the possible probate of the estate.

☐  Contact the Social Security Administration and other government offices that may have been making payments to the deceased.


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