What are some of the legal steps to take when someone dies?


Quick Answer

When a relative dies, notify an authority who can legally pronounce the time of death, such as a doctor or hospice nurse, Consumer Reports advises. Call for emergency assistance when the death occurs at home without medical attention, and if applicable, provide documentation that your relative doesn't want resuscitation. Review the person's will for any time-sensitive stipulations, such as organ donation, and file the will at a probate office. Request copies of the death certificate from the funeral home.

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Full Answer

For relatives with a burial plan, find out if the arrangements were prepaid, and follow the instructions for handling the body, Consumer Reports suggests. Contact any organizations your relative was involved with, such as the military, to ask about burial benefits. Notify the deceased person's employer, bank, accountant, utility providers and insurance providers to confirm the death and halt financial transactions. If necessary, contact the Social Security Administration or any other major agencies to cancel benefits and learn about the rights of survivors.

Contact a probate attorney to handle the process of reviewing the deceased person's assets and to officially determine the executor or administrator of the estate, AARP recommends. Prevent identity theft by canceling the driver's license, closing credit card accounts and notifying credit reporting agencies of the death. Gather the deceased person's important bills, such as the mortgage, to make payments from the estate, and consult a tax preparer to file a return.

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