What to do When Someone Dies: Step-By-Step

We look at what to do when someone dies, including registering the death and taking care of the will.
What to do When Someone Dies: Step-By-Step

Preparing for when someone dies is unimaginable. Even for a death that we knew was coming, the shock and feelings of sadness are overwhelming. While we can’t prepare for when someone dies, we can prepare what to do when it does happen.

In this week’s guide, we look at what to do when someone in your family or close to you dies. If the death happens in a hospital or nursing home, they will take care of some of the formalities.

Steps to Take When Someone Dies

Coordinate a doctor’s certificate

The first step after someone dies is to get a doctor to confirm the event. The certificate will ensure that someone passed away and how it happened. Before the funeral home can take over, they will need to see this certificate.

Notify people of the death

After someone dies, there are likely going to be a few people that you need to tell. Here are just a few of the people that you might need to contact:

  • Friends and Family. These would be the first people you would notify. They can offer support and help with the next steps.
  • Next of Kin. If this isn’t you, you must notify the next of kin as soon as possible. If there is no will left behind, then the next of kin would be in charge of handling the estate.
  • Insurance plans. If you are the next of kin and know of any life insurance policy, then you should try to contact them as soon as possible. They will help in claiming the insurance payout.

Register the death

Once you’ve got a doctors order confirming the death and you’ve notified the right people, you need to register the death. In most cases, the funeral director is in charge of obtaining the death certificate. But if you don’t have a funeral director, then you will need to contact the relevant government office where the person died.

Discover if the person left behind an estate

When someone dies, they can either die intestate (without a Will) or with a Will. There will be clear instructions on who will handle the estate (executor) and the entitlements left behind. For the executor to gain access to the Will’s assets and debts, they will need to apply for a grant of probate.

If there is no Will, then the Next of Kin will be the one to handle the estate, and they’ll need to apply for a letter of administration to access the person’s belongings and accounts. If a person’s assets are in multiple states and countries, you may need to apply for a reseal of probate.

Discovering the Will should be at the top of your list to ensure that the person’s last wishes are precisely how they had intended. If you don’t know where to locate the Will, start with the person’s lawyer, correspondence, or state registry office where the death certificate was filed.

Plan the funeral

Planning a funeral for someone who has passed away can be a complicated process. Typically, the family members will help in contacting a funeral director and coordinating the cemetery location. It’s crucial to locate the Will beforehand to understand if the person left any wishes relating to the funeral or whether they would like to be buried or cremated.

Help your loved ones by leaving a Will

To make sure your estate goes exactly where you want it to, it’s essential to leave behind a will. It will mean that you can leave your last wishes and name the executor of your Will to ensure one person handles everything. When someone dies, be sure to follow these steps and locate their will as soon as possible.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. This blog should not be relied upon as legal, financial, accounting or tax advice.

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