After Your Parent Death

The death of a parent can be an incredibly difficult time. It’s important to take time to grieve. However, while coping with your grief, you might also find yourself having to handle your parent’s final arrangements and settle his or her estate.

Navigating this process can feel overwhelming if you don’t know what steps to take. Even if you do have a general idea of what to do after a parent’s death, it still can be stressul gathering the information you need to make final arrangements, take inventory of your parent’s assets, close accounts and settle debts. That’s why it helps to have a checklist to guide you through the process.

Steps to take when someone dies

Here are steps to take when a parent or loved one dies.

After Your Parent Death

After Your Parent Death: Get a pronouncement of death

If your parent dies in a hospital, hospice facility or nursing home, the staff will handle getting an official pronouncement of death that certifies the cause, time and place of death. This will be needed for a death certificate. If your loved one dies at home, call 911 to have your parent transported to a hospital where a doctor can make a pronouncement. After your loved one is pronounced dead, you can make arrangements for him or her to be transported to a funeral home.

Contact your parent’s friends and family

Let those who were close to your parent know about your parent’s death. You might need to access your parent’s cell phone or look for an address book in your parent’s home to gather contact information. In addition to friends and family, you might also need to contact the following:

  • Employer (if applicable)
  • Your parent’s doctor
  • Caregivers or anyone who helped your parent
  • Your parent’s place of worship
  • Community or social groups with which your parent was involved
  • Local newspaper to place an obituary
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Secure your parent’s home

Ask a friend, family member or trusted neighbor to keep an eye on your parent’s house and collect mail until you can put in a request with the post office to have the mail forwarded to you or whomever will be managing your parent’s estate. Also, arrange care for any pets your parent had.

After Your Parent Death: Make funeral and burial plans

Hopefully, your parent told you or other family members what sort of funeral and burial he or she wanted. If not, look for written instructions that might be stored with your parent’s legal documents in a desk, home safe or safe deposit box. You also could check if your parent’s attorney was left with instructions. And you could call local funeral homes to see if your parent prepaid for funeral arrangements.

If your parent was in the military, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs to find out if your parent qualifies for veterans burial benefits.

Get copies of the death certificate

The funeral director should be able to help you get certified copies of your parent’s death certificate. You’ll need several to provide to the insurance company for life insurance benefits, to your parent’s financial institutions, to the court for the probate process and for any other financial or legal transactions you might have to handle.

Make a list of bills and cancel unnecessary services

Collect your parent’s mail and check the bank account or bank statements to see what bills are regularly paid. You might need to continue paying for some services such as electricity, gas, water and homeowners insurance until your parent’s house is sold. However, you might be able to quickly cancel the following services:

  • Auto insurance
  • Cell phone service
  • Internet
  • Cable or satellite TV
  • Newspaper and magazine subscriptions
  • Home deliveries
  • Prescription drug deliveries
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