Words can not express how deeply sorry we are for your loss. From everyone at the Neal Law Firm, please accept our most heartfelt condolences. In order to help minimize all that there is to do after the passing of a loved one, we created this to do list to help you during this difficult time. Here are the things to do after the loss of a loved one:
Within the First 24 Hours:
- Determine whether anything the deceased person owned needs to be safeguarded, such as a vacant house, vehicle, etc.
- Check the deceased’s license or wallet to determine whether the deceased directed his or her organs to be donated.
- Contact a mortuary to make the necessary arrangements.
- Arrange for the care of children and/or pets.
- Notify family, close friends and important organizations (church, synagogue, fraternal organizations, etc.)
Within the First 72 Hours:
- Discuss funeral arrangements with loved ones. Determine what types of services should be held, when and where. Contact the appropriate people (pastors, etc.) to coordinate the service.
- Determine if the deceased left any final wishes regarding burial or cremation. Convey these wishes to the funeral home. Check to see whether the deceased had a prepaid burial plan or written instructions regarding his or her funeral arrangements.
- Choose someone you trust to answer the phone, collect mail, respond to email, etc.
- Prepare and arrange for an obituary. For Arizona Republic obituaries call (602) 444-8774.
Within Two Weeks:
- Locate and review the deceased person’s estate plan (if any).
- Contact an estate planning attorney for instructions and advice, preferably the deceased’s estate planning attorney. We would be honored to help – please call us at (480) 699-7992.
- Contact the deceased person’s and financial advisor to discuss the estate and the assets of the estate.
- Locate important records like deeds, vehicle titles, bank statements, insurance policies and retirement policies.
- Notify life insurance and retirement companies of the passing and request the claims forms.
- If the deceased owned any real property, notify the mortgage holder (if any) of the passing.
- Review all bills owed by the deceased determine if any require immediate attention.
- Cancel all credit cards held in the deceased’s name only.
- Obtain all final medical bills.
- Order at least five death certificates from the funeral home. These will be requested by many different parties.
- Contact the post office to make any necessary changes regarding mail delivery.
- Inventory and list all personal effects and household goods. Safeguard valuables.
- Keep records of all expenses, including funeral and other arrangements.
- Discontinue any unnecessary utilities and services.
Within One Month:
- Notify the Social Security Administration of the passing.
- Notify the appropriate Military Personnel office (if applicable).
- Gather and organize all financial records and documents.
- Access the safety deposit box and inventory its contents (if applicable).
- Obtain the balances on any loans, mortgages, checking and savings accounts.
- Take the deceased’s estate planning documents, the inventories you prepared and all financial records to the meeting with the attorney.
- Notify the deceased’s CPA. Discuss whether filing an estate tax return is necessary or appropriate.
- Determine whether a probate is necessary. If so, meet with a probate attorney to begin the process.
- If the deceased left a revocable living trust, ensure that the successor trustee has a copy and has reviewed its contents. The successor trustee may want to meet with an estate planning or probate attorney to discuss any questions or concerns he or she may have.
- Notify all creditors, including credit card companies of the passing.
Within Two to Six Months:
- If any assets are owned as joint tenants or community property with right of survivorship, contact the institution (bank, etc.) to transfer title to the surviving joint tenant.
- If any real estate is owned as tenants or community property with right of survivorship, record a certified copy of the deceased’s death certificate in the county the property is located to transfer title to the surviving joint tenant.
- If a beneficiary deed has been recorded for any real property, record a certified copy of the deceased’s death certificate in the county where the property is located to transfer title to the beneficiary.
- Work with the probate attorney during the probate proceeding. When the probate is final, the personal representative should make distributions pursuant to the terms of the will or Arizona law (as applicable).
- If the deceased has a trust, work with the attorney during the administration process. When the administration is final, the successor trustee should make distributions pursuant to the terms of the trust.
If you have any questions regarding estate planning or probate, please do not hesitate to contact us at (480) 699-7992.