A Step-By-Step Guide for What to Do After the Death of a Loved One

sad senior lady holding picture looking
The death of a loved one is a difficult time for family members, and having a checklist can help you keep important items organized.

Following the death of a loved one, the last thing you want to do is complete a list of to-dos. The pain and loss alone are overwhelming enough. Taking the time to sort out your grief is essential. Yet there are, unfortunately, a number of tasks that need to be handled, at various intervals after the person’s passing.

To help ease this process, we’ve put together a straightforward checklist and timeline of items to address.

What Do I Need to Do After the Death of a Loved One?

Right after death:

  • Obtain the legal pronouncement of death by a medical professional. In a nursing home or hospital, this will automatically be taken care of. In the case of death at home, call 911 or the Coroner’s Service.
  • Notify friends and family. Use whatever method is most comfortable for you. You can contact one individual and ask them to spread the word, or it could be more cathartic for you to speak with each individual yourself. Use social media or email if that works best for you. There’s no correct or incorrect way to accomplish this.
  • Contact the funeral home of your choice (or, if final wishes were preplanned, your loved one’s choice) to advise them of the death.

Within a few days:

  • Work with the funeral home, or if warranted, the individual’s religious organization, to finalize plans for the service.
  • Determine who you would like to help with funeral-related tasks, such as writing the obituary, serving as pallbearers, helping with thank-you notes, and making arrangements for a post-funeral gathering.
  • Make long-term arrangements for any pets.
  • Contact the post office for a forwarding order for the individual’s mail.
  • Lock up any valuables in the home and get rid of any perishable food.

In two weeks:

  • Obtain ten copies of the person’s death certificate (or, ask the funeral home to manage this for you).
  • Locate the individual’s will and determine who the executor is.
  • Take a copy of the will to your city or county probate court office to begin the process of ensuring the individual’s wishes outlined within the will are followed and that all outstanding debts are resolved.
  • Speak with a solicitor to discuss estate settlement.
  • Make a list of all assets and bills, and cancel accounts: phone, internet, electric, streaming services, etc.
  • Notify the bank, financial advisors, and insurance company and contact Service Canada to notify of death and receive information regarding the Canada Pension Plan Death benefit, Survivors Pension and Children’s Benefit.
  • Contact a CPA to arrange for a final tax return to be filed.
  • Close the person’s email account, and either memorialize or close their social media account(s).

Serenity Home Care is here to help you through this difficult time if the individual leaves behind an elderly spouse or loved one requiring care. Our caregivers can step in to fill any gaps in care while you take care of the many final tasks and arrangements needed. Email or call us any time at 250.590.8098 for assistance.