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How to Best Deal with Personal Affairs When a Loved One Dies


Many families come to us when a loved one is nearing the end of their life or recently dies. A common question is “What do I need to do when my parent dies?”

The following list may help you stay focused and organized at a time of great loss.

Things to do when a person dies:

  • Notify family and close friends
  • Arrange for emotional and physical support of spouse, children, etc.
  • Consider donation of organs if appropriate
  • Notify attending physician, coroner or hospice
  • Notify executor
  • Arrange care for pets
  • Lock or secure residence if needed
  • Cancel home deliveries (newspapers, magazines, etc.), hold mail
  • Arrange for care or disposal of perishables (food, plants, etc.)
  • Find and review the expressed funeral and burial wishes
  • Prepare and arrange obituary
  • Arrange for mortuary, cemetery, burial cremation
  • Arrange funeral/burial/memorial service
  • Keep records of all payment for funeral and expenses
  • Locate safe deposit box, wills, life insurance policies, important documents
  • Notify social security, Medicaid and other agencies
  • Investigate social security benefits, life insurance, union death benefits, veteran’s burial allowance, etc.
  • Investigate Keogh & IRA accounts, business arrangements, and investments
  • Meet with attorney and accountant regarding the estate
  • Contact Life Insurance agent
  • Obtain Death Certificates (ask attorney how many are needed) – usually 6 or more
  • With attorney and accountant, prepare list of accounts and debts
  • Review credit cards and cancel as appropriate
  • DO NOT pay any debts until attorney discusses with family or executor
  • Arrange for final

The above list may not completely cover your circumstances but it should be a good start.

The law office of elder law attorney Scott C. Painter, P.C., is located in Wyomissing (outside of Reading, PA, in Berks County,) and offers trusted legal services in the areas of elder law, including nursing home planning, trust and estate services, and veterans benefits. Scott C. Painter is a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA®), and he is also a member of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys (NAELA).

If you have an issue or question, we encourage you to call us. With legal matters, time is of the essence. Call us for a consultation at 610-378-5140. The $300 consultation fee is waived if Attorney Painter is retained to perform services.