Losing a loved one is a traumatic experience. There’s never the right words. However, some books may provide helpful tools for coping. On our resources for coping with the loss of a loved one page is a list of books and local support groups that may be helpful for you.
Initial things to do after a loved one dies:
Make funeral arrangements
Sometimes the Will provides for funeral instructions. The decedent’s Trust, or a separate writing may contain the instructions. When there are no funeral instructions, the spouse will have the right to make funeral arrangements concerning the disposition of the remains. If there is no surviving spouse, then that right passes to the next of kin.
Notify immediate family members of funeral arrangements including the ones you don’t like (if any). If probate is necessary you may be dealing with a beneficiary you don’t like. Probate administration will be much smoother and less expensive if people who don’t get along set aside their differences.
Locate the original signed Will and any other relevant estate planning documents (i.e. Living Trust)
If the location of the original Will is unknown, check safes, strongboxes, filing cabinets, and the desk. You may want to contact the attorney who drafted the Will. Sometimes, attorneys keep the original estate planning documents.
Inventory and secure the property
The person entitled to serve as the Personal Representative may take steps necessary to secure the decedent’s property. If the decedent’s homestead is vacant, provisions for securing the decedent’s homestead need to be made.
Create a list of items of personal property, like jewelry, art work owned by the decedent. Take steps to ensure that these items don’t disappear prior to probate administration of the estate. Collect jewelry, cash, and other items of value and place them in a secure location.
Restrict the use of the decedent’s motor vehicles until insurance is obtained or until the motor vehicles are distributed to the entitled parties.
Provisions for the pets should be made. However, there may be provisions in the Will or Trust, providing for how the pets will be taken care of.