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Steps to Do After a Death in the Family

by
author image Kay Ireland
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.
Steps to Do After a Death in the Family
Siblings stand stunned over a grave after the passing of a loved one. Photo Credit kzenon/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

A death in the family can bring up an array of emotions dealing with a deep sense of grief and loss. While you may not be able to think of much more than your sadness, you do need to take care of financial issues, make arrangements and say your goodbyes in order to find closure. Being organized and having a support system to help you through a difficult time can help you follow the necessary steps after a death in the family in a calm and orderly way.

Notify Family Members

The first step is to notify other family members of the death. If you don't feel up to the challenge, delegate it to someone else until you feel strong enough. If possible, letting family members know in person of the death is the most sensitive way to do so. If not, phoning with suffice. Avoid using emails, texts or social networking to notify family--it's inappropriate and insensitive.

Make Arrangements

Contact a funeral home in your area to make arrangements for the funeral if the deceased wanted one. Some people leave provisions in the will for the type of funeral and burial that they want, so make sure you check with your family member's estate lawyer for the will, says MSN Money Central financial expert Liz Pulliam Weston. You'll need to make decisions about the type or service, burial and graveside service, if necessary. Talk to your family about the right course of action can help you choose a fitting tribute.

Get Organized

You'll need paperwork for the death certificate and to organize your finances after a death in the family. The Vanguard Group notes that you'll need a death certificate from your state's Department of Health or Office of Vital Statistics to move any of the deceased's assets, even those used to pay for the services. Order at least 20 copies to keep on hand for various applications. Locate any necessary paperwork and account numbers for bank accounts, trust funds and investments. Notify the banks of the death, cancel any memberships and transfer vehicle registration in the deceased's name.

Arrange Finances

Gather together any unpaid bills that your family member may have left behind, suggests New York Life Insurance Company. Call the life insurance company and ask when the insurance will be available; you might need to use some of that money to pay for unpaid accounts and the funeral service. Make an appointment with a trust lawyer to talk about remaining funds and assets, and how best to properly disperse or invest them for your family's benefit.

Take Time

Take your time to grieve the loss of a loved one. In the flurry of planning a funeral and arranging finances, you may feel numb. When it's been taken care of, take the time to think about the loss and what it means to you. The Kubler-Ross model of grief lists the five stages of grief as denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, and there is no time limit on the grieving process. Allow family members and friends to lend a hand so you can take your time and find closure following the death.

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