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FAQs: What Needs to Be Done When Someone Dies

The Law Offices of Steven H. Peck, Ltd. Sept. 28, 2023

Losing a loved one is one of the most heart-wrenching and burdensome experiences you can go through in life. Unfortunately, it is something that all of us have to face at some point in our lives. When this happens in your family, you and the rest of the family may feel overwhelmed and confused when trying to figure out what to do next.  

As an estate planning attorney, Steven H. Peck regularly receives phone calls from grief-stricken people who have just lost a loved one. These people want to know what needs to be done after their loved one dies and how to handle the legal affairs that come up after the passing of a family member. Steven H. Peck offers guidance to these families, working diligently with the goal that all tasks are done to the letter of the law and by the applicable deadlines. The Law Offices of Steven H. Peck, Ltd., assists clients with all aspects of estate administration in Illinois throughout Cook County, Lake County, McHenry County, and DuPage County.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About What to Do After a Loved One’s Death

When someone you love dies, you and other surviving family members may be left wondering about what steps you should take following the death. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers to them to give you some guidance. For more specific information about what to do in your particular situation, contact Steven H. Peck today, and schedule a complimentary, two-hour consultation.  

What is the first thing I should do when a loved one dies? 

If your loved one has passed away, the first thing to do is obtain a legal pronouncement of death. This step is especially critical if the deceased person dies outside of a medical or nursing facility. After the pronouncement is recorded on the death certificate, get about 10 certified copies of the certificate, as they will be needed in managing virtually every aspect of the estate.  

Who do I need to notify? 

Notifying close family members and friends about the death is a critical step after someone dies. If your loved one was employed at the time of death, you also need to notify their employer and co-workers. If the deceased was receiving social security benefits, you might want to contact the Social Security Administration to notify it of the death. The same goes for insurance companies, government agencies, and other parties. Your attorney will assist you in the process to ensure that all appropriate parties are notified.  

What about funeral arrangements? 

Making funeral arrangements can be an emotional and arduous task, but it is something that needs to be done. Before any arrangements are made, you need to identify whether or not your loved one left any wishes for the disposition of their remains. This may require you to search for the decedent’s estate planning documents that may detail their final wishes.  

What documents should I look for? 

The death of a loved one involves a lot of paperwork, but the most challenging quest is to find all of the defendant’s documents to move forward with the estate administration process. In most cases, it is the responsibility of the executor of the estate to find and organize all the necessary documents to manage the estate. However, if family members have access to the deceased person’s documents, they can assist the executor during this process. Some of the documents to look for include the last will and testament, trusts, life insurance policies, real estate deeds, motor vehicle titles, bank and investment statements, and many others.  

What happens to children and pets? 

The custody of children and pets is usually handed over to a person named as the guardian in the deceased person’s will. However, if the decedent did not name a guardian for his or her minor children or made the necessary arrangements for “pet guardianship,” it would be up to the court to appoint guardians.  

How is the will or trust handled? 

If the deceased person left behind a will and/or trust, you might want to contact the executor of the estate named in the will and the trustee to learn more about what happens next. If you are the one who was named as the executor or trustee, you will have to follow the instructions specified in the document that was prepared by the decedent.  

Do I need an attorney?

It is not uncommon for surviving family members to become too overwhelmed by the number of things that need to be done after their loved one dies. However, it is essential that proper steps are taken to ensure that the deceased person’s wishes are respected and all the legal requirements are met. For this reason, you might want to get knowledgeable assistance from an attorney. Your attorney will take the burden off your shoulders and allow you to grieve and spend time with your family. 

Don’t Face This Difficult Time Alone

The estate administration attorney Steven H. Peck helps grieving families settle the affairs of their deceased loved ones in Cook County, Lake County, and the surrounding area in Illinois. The attorney will provide proper guidance through the estate administration process, protecting your loved one’s affairs and interests. Reach out to The Law Offices of Steven H. Peck, Ltd., to schedule a consultation and discuss your unique case.