The death of a family member is tough and stressful. When a loved one passes away, there’s things we need to do and they can be broken into three phases. Attorney Greg Port breaks down important tasks and to-dos you should be thinking about into a simple checklist.


Phase 1

Immediately After a Death of a Loved One


The first phase is the things we need to do immediately. The problem is that in such circumstances, we’re under so much grief and under pressure that we may not recall the things that are immediately needed to do.

Of course the first thing we want to do is call 911 because the EMTs that arrive on the scene will know exactly how to help you.

In some circumstances a hospice nurse may have been involved. In that situation, you’ll want to call that nurse.

Next call your family. It’s important to (1) let them know and (2) have a source of support where they can help you through this stressful time.

The next thing you’ll want to do is arrange for the care of any children. If the loved one has any pets, you want to make sure that they’re taken care of as well.

The next thing you’ll want to do is secure the loved ones home. It’ll need to be locked up, possibly leaving a light on to make it look occupied. You will also want to make sure that the cars are locked up.

The last step in this phase is in regards to organ donation. If the loved one wanted to donate organs, make the proper arrangements.

Phase 2

In the Weeks After a Death of a Loved One


After the immediate things are taken care of, there’s a secondary list of things we need to consider.

First in this group would be contacting a funeral home or crematory to make sure that you’re comfortable there, and to make sure that the loved ones wishes are accomplished.

The next concern in this list would be making sure that the utilities are taken care of so that nothing gets turned off in the home or is consequently damaged.

The next concern is contacting the employer to let them know that the loved one has passed away, that way they can start making arrangements for any benefits applicable.

The next phase is very important. You’ll want to search the loved one’s home for important papers.

You’ll also want to look at their mail to see if there are any outstanding bills which need to be paid.

The next step in this phase would be to secure the death certificate, which will usually come from the funeral home or the crematory.

This generally takes anywhere from two to three weeks.

The last step in this phase is to make probate arrangements or start administering the trust, if there was one. The loved one’s assets will need to be probated even is there wasn’t a will.

Probate Court

If you plan on handling probate yourself, there are several steps which need to be taken. To learn more about the probate process, read our blog post on understanding probate.

If you decide you’d like to have help from an attorney, call Port Legal at 614-310-3110 or request a consultation online. We’d be glad to help with as much or as little as you’d like on the case.

Even if you decide not to hire an attorney, feel free to call our office or another attorney so that you have a good grip on the steps that need to be taken during probate.



Phase 3

In the Months After a Death of a Loved One


The last area of concern would include notifying local law enforcement so that they can drive by the home if it’s going to remain unoccupied, just to check on things.

The next task in this phase is checking for benefits. You’ll want to check on whether there’s any life insurance, employer benefits, social security or medical benefits.

Also, you will want to stop health and life insurance payments, as well as any subscriptions which may be taken automatically out of the loved ones bank accounts.

Guarding Against Identity Theft

Next in this phase would be to guard against identity theft. To do this, you will want to

  • cancel the loved ones credit cards,
  • notify credit reporting agencies,
  • notify the board of elections, and
  • notify the state DMV.

And lastly, remember that powers of attorney and guardianship dissolves upon the loved ones death. Make sure that you or no other loved one make financial arrangement using the power of attorney or the guardianship.

Regardless of whether you use our firm or another firm, make sure that you stay in contact with your attorney to make sure that you’re both always on the same page.



At Port Legal, our goal is to guardguide, and defend you through these and other difficult times. Feel free to call us at 614-310-3110 or contact us by requesting a consultation online.