A metal urn with ashes of a dead person

FAQs: What Needs to Be Done When Someone Dies

Law Office of Robert L. Firth March 27, 2023

We understand how difficult it is when loved ones pass away. Not only do you have to process the loss emotionally, but you also need to figure out what to do legally. At the Law Office of Robert L. Firth, our team is here to help. You don’t have to go through this complex process alone. 

Contact an estate planning attorney at the Law Office of Robert L. Firth when you’re ready to get started. We’re proud to serve individuals and families in Cathedral City and the rest of California, including Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and throughout the Coachella Valley. 

What is the first thing I should do when a loved one dies? 

The first task that should be completed after your loved one dies is to obtain a legal prominent of death. Whether their passing occurred at home, at the hospital, or anywhere else, the death needs to be officially pronounced by a professional in order for a death certificate to be issued.  

Who do I need to notify? 

There are plenty of different parties that need to be informed after the passing of a loved one. Of course, you’ll let family and friends know, but you will also need to inform employers, coworkers, banks, and any insurance companies where there was a policy under your loved one's name. If your loved one owned stock, you’ll need to contact their financial advisers and stockbrokers to determine any benefits that need to be paid out. Additionally, you need to find out if there is a will in place and contact an attorney to help execute your loved one's wishes.  

What funeral arrangements should be made? 

As you make notice of the passing of your loved one, you may determine that there was an estate planning document detailing their wishes in regard to funeral arrangements. These types of documents can help with the planning of the funeral. If there are no documents available, then the decision can be made as a family based on what they believe the deceased wanted.  

What about children and pets?  

A well-crafted estate planning document should have all of the instructions that need to be followed in regard to children and pets. If a document doesn’t exist in regard to guardianship, then the courts may need to be involved to legally establish guardianship of children.  

Do I need to get death certificates?  

Death certificates are required to properly declare the death of your loved one. As you and your attorney meet with bankers, brokers, and insurance companies, you may need to leave a copy with these entities, so be sure to obtain plenty of copies. 

How is the will or trust handled?  

The decedent’s estate plan should include everything that you need to know regarding the will or trust. It can help you identify the executor and ensure that your loved one's wishes are met.  

Do I really need an attorney?  

Losing a loved one at any stage of life is difficult and the grieving process can be draining. An experienced estate planning or probate attorney can help shoulder this burden for you and your family. While it is not legally necessary to hire an attorney after a loved one’s passing, a skilled lawyer can help you administer your loved one’s estate plan and make any other necessary arrangements. 

Don’t Face These Challenges Alone  

At the Law Office of Robert L. Firth, we understand the immense challenge of dealing with the death of a loved one. With over thirty-five years of experience in law, business, real estate, government, and politics—and having drafted over 1,500 living trust agreements—our attorney knows how to get things done efficiently and will always have your best interests in mind. Set up a consultation with us today for all of your estate planning or probate needs.