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Survivor's Checklist: What to do When a Loved One Passes Away

Funeral of a Loved OneWhen someone dies there are many important things that need to be addressed by the survivor or survivors, and some of those things that need to be addressed are time sensitive. 

This can be an overwhelming process for the survivor(s). In an effort to provide guidance to those survivor(s), estate planning attorney Jonathan "Jay" David has prepared a "Survivor's Checklist" of the important things that need to be addressed when a spouse or loved one dies.

The checklist addresses things that should be done immediately including:

  • Determining if decedent left any instructions regarding funeral or burial arrangements
  • Notifying friends and family
  • Preparing the decedent's obituary

And things that should be done after the funeral (so long as the funeral isn't delayed) including:

  • Locating names and contact information of decedent's professional advisors
  • Canceling home services no longer needed such as internet, cable, trash pick-up, etc.
  • Locating the decedent's important papers such as: life insurance policies, bank statements, and legal documents such as a will
  • Obtaining copies of the Death Certificate

Click on the Survivor's Checklist link below to review the full checklist.

Although the following list is comprehensive, it is not meant to be exhaustive, and it is recommended that the spouse, the survivor(s), and/or any other person who has legal authority to act on behalf of the decedent, consult with an attorney and/or other appropriate advisors to help them through this process.

Survivor Checklist

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Survivor's Checklist:

Due to the shock of the death of a spouse or a loved one, the steps of what needs to be done first can be an overwhelming process for the survivor(s). To aid in the breakdown and to act as a tool amidst the emotional days ahead, estate planning Jonathan "Jay" David has assembled a "Survivor's Checklist" of some of the important things that need to be addressed when a spouse or loved one dies.

Resources and Support for Older Adults Living Alone: A Comprehensive Guide (2024):

Below is a comprehensive guide of resources for older adults living alone, empowering them to thrive independently and access essential services. This guide was created and provided with permission by the National Council on Aging (NCOA).

Resources and Support for Older Adults Living Alone: A Comprehensive Guide (2024) (ncoa.org)

Elder Organizer Tool:

Foster Swift has created a free ‘Elder Organizer’ digital notebook to provide seniors and their caretakers with a toolkit that helps organize doctors’ appointments, medications, and more that can be shared online. The tools below are also available on the Elder Law Resources page.

*For those trying to access these links by smartphone, it is best practice to copy/open the link in a separate tab and download the free Google Sheets app from Google Play or the Apple Store.

Using the Elder Law OrganizerMedication & Appointments ButtonVisitor Log & Photos/Media ButtonPrivate Care Schedule ButtonElder Law Resources Button

COVID-19 Checklist:

For adult children responsible for their elderly parents and other senior caretakers concerned about protecting loved ones as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, below is a free downloadable checklist of steps to follow to prepare for any possible COVID-19-related illnesses among the most-vulnerable.

Download Button: Checklist

E-book Covers Estate Planning Essentials

Estate Planning Cover

Engaging in estate planning, while essential, is often emotional and generates many questions. How do I protect my spouse and my children if something happens to me? What happens if I become disabled before I pass on? Who will take care of my pet after I'm gone? How do I pass my business on to my children? These questions and more are addressed in Jonathan David’s recently updated e-book, “Estate Planning: You Have to Start in Order to Finish.”

Need Help Planning?

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For more tools, visit our Elder Law Resource page for additional content. Click here to view/download the Foster Swift estate planning brochure to see what our experienced team of attorneys can do for you.