Free Checklist: The First Steps to Take After the Death of a Loved One


Lauren Pitman

Author, Attorney

Before you read on, please note that this checklist is for informational purposes only, and not intended to replace appropriate legal advice. If you have specific questions, please consult your attorney.

If a loved one dies in your home, call 911.

You will also want to call their doctor and/or hospice provider. If the deceased was an organ donor, which is sometimes indicated on a driver’s license, provide this information immediately. If a death occurs in a nursing home or hospital, ask staff for guidance.

  • Doctor Name/Tel.:
  • Hospice Tel.:

Contact the deceased’s close family and friends. Compile a list, including full names and addresses, of all.

Arrange for the care of any pets.

Try to locate written instructions for final disposition regarding a funeral, cremation, or memorial service and prepaid services.

  • Funeral Home Tel.:

Order death certificates (around $20.00 each) from the funeral home, or your local Department of Public Health & Social Services. Typically, one original death certificate is needed for each major asset, but we suggest you order three to five initially, and more as needed.

Cancel any actions taken as Durable Power of Attorney. The legal authority granted to a power of attorney ceases at death, therefore, no action should be taken under the authority of power of attorney after death.

Call the deceased’s attorney. Try to locate original estate planning documents, such as a Community Property Agreement, Will or a Trust.

Once located, you will need to provide the original documents to the personal representative or executor named in the Will, and/or the successor trustee in the case of a trust.

  • Attorney Name/Tel.:
  • Pers Rep Name/Tel.:
  • Trustee Name/Tel.:

Notify Social Security Administration, Office of Financial Recovery, and Department of Revenue of the deceased’s date of death. For identification purposes, you should have the deceased’s date of birth, social security number, and address.

  • Date of birth:
  • Social security number:
  • Address:

If the deceased was a veteran, notify Veterans Administration (800-562-2308) regarding possible death benefits and/or survivor’s benefits.

Locate other important documents including insurance policy statements, pension statements, Veteran Administration benefit statements, military records, bank account statements, annuity statements, deeds, etc. Record contact information below:

Name                Telephone           Account Number
_________________   _________________   _________________ 
_________________   _________________   _________________ 
_________________   _________________   _________________ 
_________________   _________________   _________________ 

Contact the deceased’s landlord or health care facility, if applicable, to discuss rent and time lines for vacating premises.

  • Landlord Name/Tel:

If appropriate for you to do so, cancel and request refunds for regular services like cable, newspaper, magazine subscriptions, credit cards, health, dental, and long term care insurance.

Do not pay large outstanding expenses without discussing it with the attorney.

Secure the home and other valuables. This may include contacting a locksmith to change the locks, and having mail forwarded to your home.

Name of Creditor        Telephone           Account Number
_________________   _________________   _________________ 
_________________   _________________   _________________ 
_________________   _________________   _________________ 
_________________   _________________   _________________ 
_________________   _________________   _________________ 
_________________   _________________   _________________ 
_________________   _________________   _________________ 
_________________   _________________   _________________ 

Notify the three credit bureaus of the deceased’s date of death, to prevent identity theft.

P.O. Box 740256
Atlanta, GA 30374
(800) 685-1111

P.O. Box 2002
Allen, TX 75013
(888) 397-3742

TransUnion LLC
P.O. Box 2000
Chester, PA 19022
(800) 888-4213


P.S. Want to stay connected?

Subscribe and I'll hand-deliver these posts to your inbox (plus other occasional special offers).

Trust me. I'm a lawyer. I don't spam. (See privacy policy)

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article should not be considered tax or legal advice and is not a substitute for such advice. State and federal laws change frequently and the information in this article may not reflect your own state's laws or the most recent changes in state or federal law. For current tax and legal advice, please consult with an accountant or attorney licensed to practice in your state.

Let's Keep in touch

Sign up to our occasional newsletters
and stay up to date on your estate planning.

Trust me. I'm a lawyer. I don't spam. (See privacy policy)