Feb 13, 2020

12 Things To Do When a Loved One Passes


Losing a loved one is tough, really tough. If you have recently lost someone and that's what has brought you to this article, we want you to know we are truly sorry for your loss. Having gone through loss ourselves we know all the ups and downs and emotions involved. Losing anyone is never easy. Since we are familiar with all the emotions and processes that are a part of going through loss, when Veronica approached us about creating a checklist we thought it was a good idea. We also would like to say, we look at death as an expansion of our true-selves. We fully believe in being able to connect with other people in their physical form or when they are just in spirit form through thought to thought, frequency to frequency. May you hang onto your precious memories and watch for a sign! 🐦 Energetic Blessings, Stacy and Carol


Are you wondering what to do when a loved one dies? Hopefully, you have discussed end-of-life arrangements with your loved ones and know what their wishes are. It is easier for everyone if you have. But whether you have or not, these twelve things should be done in this order:

1.) Have Your Loved One Pronounced Dead.
This seems like a no-brainer but you’d be surprised at how awkward and painful this can be under certain circumstances.

If end-of-life plans were not discussed with the decedent, tragic events can follow.  For example, in a case where the decedent’s children did not know what the decedent intended, and the decedent was attended only by a nurse’s aide at her natural death at home, the police have to be called. At that point, resuscitation attempts might be employed, and the police could even try to investigate into the cause of death as if anyone there was implicated!


Contrast this case where the decedent passed in hospice in the care of a nurse who could pronounce the decedent dead. Much less painful for the next of kin.

What to do when someone dies at home? If the decedent passes at home under hospice care, contact the hospice nurse. If the decedent dies at home without hospice care, call 911 and have in hand any documents that set forth the decedent’s end-of-life wishes, including a do-not-resuscitate (DNR).


2.) Arrange for Transportation of the Body.
The hospice nurse or funeral home director can assist you with this if arrangements were made prior to the death. The mortuary can pick up the body directly from home or the place of hospice.

Otherwise, and especially if the cause of death is suspicious and an autopsy is required, you may have to deal with the county coroner.

3.) Notify the Doctor and/or Coroner, and Person’s other Next of Kin, Close Friends, and Family.
A phone tree should be created whereby you call the principal parties (personal doctor or coroner and close family) and those parties contact other parties who should be told.

4.) Organize for the Care of Dependants and/or Pets.
Again, this is something that can be organized prior to death but if not, someone will have to do it at least in the short term, while the will is being probated. Hopefully, arrangements have been made providing for dependents and for pets.

5.) Notify the Decedent’s Employer or SSA as applicable.
Without knowing the decedent has passed, the decedent’s employer and/or the Social Security Administration will have continuing expectations. Be sure to let them know as soon as it is practicable that the decedent has passed.

6.) Arrange for Funeral/Burial/Cremation as Appropriate.
Again, it may be that the decedent has organized this prior to death. But if not, these decisions need to be made and paid for.  Discuss with the executor, if there is no funeral expenses insurance.

7.) Prepare an Obituary.
The funeral home director will assist you with getting this published. Have the decedent’s next of kin and close friends write memories down, and incorporate them into one document with a comprehensive listing of the decedent’s family, place of birth and places of residence, employment, and clubs and houses of worship.

8.) Contact the Military Branch, Fraternal Organization, and Church or other Religious Group that the Decedent Belonged to.
Many organizations provide for certain funeral or burial services, and it is worth contacting those the decedent belonged to find out if this is the case. If not, you need to discuss with the executor whether there are funds to pay for the same.

9.) Deal with the Decedent’s Home, Bills, and Pets
Yet another thing that can be organized by the decedent prior to death, but is often not. The decedent’s home and bills must be looked after and the executor should be on top of that. Pets should be adopted out or fostered while the will is being probated.

10.) Obtain Multiple Copies of the Death Certificate
You will need multiple certified copies of the death certificate for the following parties:

Insurance companies
Pension if state-provided
Employer, if a pension is provided by the employer
The military, if the decedent was a veteran
Creditors, if the decedent was married and secured collateral (car, home) passes to the spouse
Banks, if any accounts have survivorship rights

11.) Submit the Decedent’s Will for Probate
If the decedent had a will it be submitted for probate, Google the procedure for your particular county.

12.) Contact the Following:
The decedent’s life insurance company, to get claim forms;
The decedent’s accountant for what is required for tax return preparation;
The decedent’s financial advisor to inquire as to how investment accounts transfer;
The decedent’s bank, to inquire about existing accounts and safe-deposit boxes;
The Social Security Administration, to inquire about survivor benefits;
Any other government agency from which the decedent was receiving benefits, to inquire about survivor benefits;
The decedent’s utilities, to stop service or transfer service to the estate;
USPS, to stop, hold, or forward the decedent’s mail;
The local police, to stop by the decedent’s residence periodically to ensure it is safely locked up.

As you have read, much of this is simplified by a frank discussion with the decedent prior to death.  However, if the decedent’s wishes are unknown, this article provides you with a template of decisions to be made and people to be contacted.


About the Author
Veronica Baxter is a legal assistant and blogger living and working in the great city of Philadelphia. She frequently works with Chad Boonswang, Esq. a busy Philadelphia insurance attorney.

The daughter of military parents, Veronica lived all over the world as a child growing up and collected experiences and friends throughout her travels. Having developed a taste for international cuisine, she is growing into an accomplished amateur chef - just about every weekend you can find her in her kitchen creating ethnic and seasonal farm-to-table meals for her family and friends.

Veronica plays soccer in a recreational league and is a rabid Philadelphia Union and Sky Blue fan. She is committed to social justice and volunteers at a local soup kitchen and as a roofer and framer with Habitat for Humanity. She lives in a renovated south Philly rowhome with her husband John, their two rescue poodles, Connor and Camelot, a full aquarium of African Cichlids, and several rescue cats (the number changes almost daily!). 


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