The Legality of Death

The death of a loved one is an incredibly difficult time for the family members and friends who survive them. It’s also a time that can be fraught with legal complications.

If you’re like most people, you probably don’t know where to start when sorting through the estate of a loved one who has passed away. This blog will cover some of the legal processes that follow death so that when you’re ready to settle their affairs, you’re well-informed and prepared.

Obtaining the Death Certificate 

When a loved one passes, the first thing you should do is make sure you have a death certificate.

They’ll automatically process if they’ve passed in a hospital or under hospice. Otherwise, you will need to call a medical professional to declare them deceased and get the ball rolling.

If you don’t have a death certificate, moving forward with the requisite procedures will be impossible. 

Collecting the Correct Documents

When a loved one dies, knowing what to do can be very difficult. You should contact the deceased’s other family members and friends and tell them the news. Then, begin collecting the necessary paperwork.

Most people have written instructions for their specific wishes or arrangements. Sometimes this is included in their Advance Directive documents, such as a Living Will. They may also have named a “Designated Agent” to take care of those arrangements.

Also, look for any prepaid services like burial services or cremation, deeds and titles to real estate property and vehicles, insurance policies including medical insurance policies (medical bills), financial account information and records including bank accounts, credit card accounts, and other instruments such as bonds or stocks held by the estate, legal papers like marriage or divorce degrees, drivers licenses, passports, etc. 

Entering Probate

When someone we love dies, it can be challenging to know where to turn. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by dealing with death and any legal matters arising from it.

The probate process is a court-supervised proceeding in which the authenticity of the will left behind is proven valid and accepted as the true last testament of the deceased.

In most cases, you’ll want to retain an attorney for this process—even if things seem simple at first glance because there are so many nuances and complications that can arise when dealing with probate.

Filing Insurance Claims, Paying Debts, and Other Important Things to Do 

Suppose you do not work with a probate attorney. In that case, you must remember to inform creditors, mortgage lenders, or any other financial institution the deceased worked with of their passing. If you know that they have outstanding debts, you should contact those organizations directly and make arrangements for the settlement. 

It would help if you also took the time to inform the Social Security Administration, insurance companies, mortgage lenders, and the deceased’s employer. 

Typically, any institution working with the deceased must confirm their death. They will require you to submit the death certificate and could potentially inquire about other documents, so it’s important to have all the necessary paperwork ready. 

Start Planning Today

When you die, you don’t want to leave your loved ones with the burden of ensuring everything gets done. That’s why it’s important to prepare for death while you’re healthy; it can help make the process easier for them.

Working with a funeral home will give your loved one peace of mind as they navigate the legal and bureaucratic tasks associated with death. You can also ensure that your wishes are respected by writing a will or creating an advanced directive.

The most important thing is to take action today so that when the time comes, your family won’t have to worry about anything other than grieving—and celebrating—your life.

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