Not infrequently our office receives telephone calls from a distraught spouse or an adult child that there has been a recent death in the family. Invariably, the caller is overwhelmed with grief and has little idea or direction as to what needs be done.
Our advice to the caller is always the same - take care of the family and most of the legalities can wait. However, there are some matters that are more urgent and do require attention quickly:
- Locate the pre-need funeral or burial insurance policy.
- Order copies of the death certificate.
- If the burial is to be in the Veterans’ Cemetery, locate the DOD-214 form.
- Gather documents such as the will, trust, insurance policies, stock and bank accounts.
- Contact the Social Security Administration - a phone call is sufficient.
- Notify any life insurance companies.
- Contact the executor named in the will and the trustee of the trust.
- Call the banks and credit unions.
- Contact credit card companies.
- And most importantly, take care of the family.
While this is a difficult time for families, most of the remaining determinations following a death can wait until decisions concerning the decedent’s final affairs might be better made. After these are accomplished, please feel free to contact any one of our attorneys so that they may further assist you.
Attorney James M. O'Reilly