What to Do After Losing a Loved One
It’s never easy to lose a loved one, but when the tears are said and done, legal matters are likely going to fall into your responsible hands. Luckily, you are not expected to do it alone; there are plenty of resources to rely on as you start to handle the ins and outs of managing your loved one’s estate, finances, and other family matters.
You can gain the help from other family members, therapists, legal professionals, and more. Things might seem tumultuous and uncomfortable during this time, but with a little proactive planning, things can get a little easier.
If you’re wondering what to do after losing a loved one, here are some of the most important things to begin doing:
Go to grief counseling
This time of your life can feel tumultuous and uncertain. Before you start working on the more difficult aspects of your loved one’s passing, the first step is to get support.
After all, you never know when something small can unleash a wealth of emotions. Even though death is a natural part of life, this fact doesn’t make it any easier as you adjust to living without them. As you start managing their estate and planning a funeral, you’re going to experience some low times from which you will need ample support. Counseling for grief is a vital tool to come to terms with your feelings and better manage your emotions when financial matters and legal issues come up later.
Research has shown that most people are able to cope with grief better with the help of support systems, like loving family members and grief counseling specialists. Accept your feelings and try to be as open with your support systems as you can. Keep in mind that complicated grief can be an even bigger emotional monster to tackle; for example, if you had a loved one that needed regular help through family intervention or had troubles with the law, analyzing these feelings can be more complex than simply talking it over with a friend. Relying on grief counseling and other avenues for emotional stability are essential. After all, psychologists can offer coping tools and an unbiased view that you cannot normally get from the average friend or family member. There’s no easy answer when it comes to what to do after losing a loved one, but this is a great first step. These tools will become increasingly necessary as you begin to take over the financial and legal responsibilities of your loved one.
Planning the funeral
Planning a funeral for your loved one is another important first step. Keep in mind, this process can look different from person to person. Some people may want to be cremated while others prefer a traditional funeral designated by their religious practices. If your loved one was coping with a long-term or chronic illness, they may have a legal will or a specific set of instructions that will lay out their preferences.
Keep in mind that you’re not alone: there are plenty of resources available to help a grieving person make the necessary funeral arrangements for their loved one. Research funeral providers in your area and double-check with an attorney to ensure that you won’t be taken advantage of throughout the process.
Lean on your family members or other close friends to help guide you through this difficult process so you’re not shouldering all the responsibility. Your loved ones will be essential if you’re trying to explain what death is to children of elementary school age. But children absorb information like a sponge and they will likely be more understanding than one would expect. Ask your loved ones to tell them about the funeral process so that the children know what to expect. Otherwise, it might be better to send very small children to a day camp or another form of temporary childcare services.
This is especially important if the funeral leads directly into the burial. This has become less common nowadays, but if the memorial takes place nearby the burial grounds, pallbearers can take the casket directly to the site. While most children should be fine throughout this process, it can be particularly emotional for some. The parents of the child know best: if childcare is needed, be sure to book in advance.
Depending on the will and testament of your loved one, the cost of the funeral might already be taken care of. In other cases, you might be able to draw funds from a variety of sources when it comes to paying for a headstone and casket. If you’re not able to shoulder this cost on your own, there are plenty of attorneys and legal professionals that can show you what to do after losing a loved one.
Legalities: Get in contact with an attorney
Figuring out the legal and financial responsibilities you may have for a loved one can be hard to figure out on your own. For example, you’re never responsible for taking on the financial debts of the deceased, either in terms of student loans, credit card debts, or medical debt. Some particularly nasty creditors might try to convince you otherwise, which is why it’s essential to have an attorney on your side. Even if you aren’t able to get into contact with an attorney or lawyer right away, many law firms utilize call center services to help you leave voice mails and even answer basic questions.
Once you have found an attorney that you trust, the true legal matters begin.
An attorney is key in helping you to differentiate the different documents tied to the deceased. Anything from their will to their estate to their stocks and bonds will cover a plethora of legal matters that the average person will have trouble dissecting on their own. In some cases, you can’t even access some of these documents without a legal representative’s assistance, whether you’re considered for an inheritance or not. As such, it’s important to rely on an estate lawyer when it comes to divvying up and analyzing the assets and wishes of the deceased. In most cases, the estate of your loved one will help cover the costs of hiring a lawyer, which can either be an hourly fee or a probate amount determined by the value of your loved one’s estate. This is a key factor when you’re wondering what to do after losing a loved one. In some cases, the cost of the estate can even help you pay for counseling or pediatrician services, should a young family member be experiencing issues with your loved one’s death.
Your attorney will help you divvy up your loved one’s assets in accordance with their last will and file for copies of your loved one’s death certificate. In many states, you will have to alert debt collectors, government offices, and healthcare centers about your loved one’s death. Relying on a lawyer will help ensure that you have all the necessary documents to get it done right.
Once the trusts are administered, it will be up to you to file a federal estate tax return and tally up any debts that are actually legitimate. Keep in mind that if you are the child of the deceased, you are not responsible for these debts whether they’re doctors bills or credit card debts. However, the loved one’s spouse may have to take on some of the debt. Talk to a lawyer about your options to learn more about what to do after losing a loved one. Getting other members in contact with a reputable lawyer can help streamline the process. It can be hard to work together during a difficult time like this, but clear communication is the best way to handle the assets of the deceased.
Many people will inevitably sell the home of their loved one instead of keeping it in the family. However, depending on market viability and whether or not you’re in a good spot to sell a home, you can always hold onto it for later. In most cases, you will simply take on the mortgage payments of the home. You might find that moving into your loved one’s home is the better option, and then you can sell your own home in turn. Regardless, talking to an estate lawyer will help you make sense of the current market situation and determine your best options.
Selling the home
In many cases, the loved one’s estate will typically be sold unless contestants raise a dispute against the property or the will of the deceased. Once your lawyer has helped you figure out these jumps and hurdles, you can finally get the home prepped to sell.
Using the help of a real estate agent might help at this time, especially if you have never sold a home before. You may have never thought you would be charged this task when you ask about what to do after losing a loved one, but more often than not, it’s up to the loved one’s remaining children. Luckily, the real estate agent will offer help throughout the process: they can help you tidy up the home, connect you with potential buyers, and market the home faster than if you were to do it alone. For example, a great real estate lawyer might give you the number for the best tree removal service to improve the appearance of the home. Because they have these inside connections, it’s easier than ever to get a price that works for your budget.
You will also want to get a complete home inspection performed, especially if it’s an older home. Problems with electrical work or signs of mold growth are two common issues in older homes, and they’re likely to send a potential buyer in the other direction as they look for new homes for sale. Investing in a few simple inspections can help you get a higher return on your investment once the house sells. These inspections can also help you target the most important aspects of the home that need to be fixed before the home can sell. Of course, you likely won’t be able to remodel the entire home, but it’s a good first step when you’re wondering what to do when you lose a loved one. Prioritizing major repairs over small issues will save time and money in the long run.
Keep in mind that selling your loved one’s home and working out these legal matters will take time. You shouldn’t be eager to get it all done at once, otherwise, you will burn yourself out and make matters worse. Taking the time you need to grieve can lengthen the process, but it’s a necessary component of doing what’s right for your health. This goes double if your whole family is grieving an important loss.
What to do after losing a loved one
Coping with the loss of a loved one is never easy. There’s a slew of components to consider when you’re wondering what to do after losing a loved one. While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, it’s a great jumping off point for people who are stuck in the dark. Take care of yourself and be sure to get a great estate planning attorney on your side. There’s no right answer for what to do after losing a loved one, but starting here can help.