William J. Benz, Attorney at Law
Probate, Estates, Business and Real Estate Of Counsel to Howland, Hess, Guinan, Torpey, Cassidy and O'Connell, LLP
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What to do after a loved one dies

The death of a loved one is not only painful, but can be stressful for those left to settle their affairs. When the time comes you may be responsible for managing a number of tasks quickly. Will you know what documents to look for and what agencies to call? The process will be much more peaceful if you are prepared for what to do when a loved one dies.

An important first step will be to determine if your parent or relative named a “designated agent” or executor. These roles are named to take care of arrangements. You may be able to find this information in durable powers of attorney or living wills. You should also try contacting their attorney for more information.

If you are named the executor, then you will be responsible for settling your loved one’s estate. If someone else is named the executor then let them know immediately. If an executor is not named then take their will to the Bucks County Courthouse, or appropriate county office location for probate acceptance. Now keep the following nine things in mind for what to do when a loved one dies.

Keep these nine steps in mind when a loved one passes away

  1. Was your loved one a member of the military or a religious group? Get in touch with the organization to find out if they provide burial benefits or hold funeral services.
  2. Get multiple copies of their death certificate. You will need to present this document to insurance companies, financial institutions and possibly government agencies.
  3. Contact an attorney specializing in probate. They will guide you through the probate process to administer your loved one’s assets. A probate attorney is important in case any issues occur.
  4. Find important documents including deeds, their Social Security card, birth certificate, financial accounts, tax returns, insurance policies and retirement accounts.
  5. Call their life insurance agent to fill out claim forms.
  6. Contact Social Security and other government agencies if your loved one received benefits.
  7. Give the executor notice of unpaid bills such as utilities, rental properties or credit cards.
  8. Cancel services such as pension checks, utilities and the postal service.
  9. Ask a relative to check on your loved one’s home. Take care of their pets, water their plants and place valuables in a safe.

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William J. Benz, Attorney at Law
307 Lakeside Park
Southampton, PA 18966

Phone: 215-436-9910
Fax: 215-322-9690
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