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FAQs: What Needs to Be Done When Someone Dies 

Law Offices of Kelton M. Burgess, LLC Feb. 1, 2023

Losing someone close to you can be a heartbreaking and overwhelming experience. Even if you were prepared for their demise, you might still find it difficult to say goodbye and move on. However, while grieving, there are some important tasks that you need to address. A seasoned Pennsylvania estate planning attorney can enlighten you about what you need to do when a loved one dies. 

At Law Offices of Kelton M. Burgess, LLC, we are committed to offering knowledgeable guidance and advocacy to individuals and families in post-death-related matters. Our attorney can enlighten you about the various legal considerations and tasks you need to handle when someone dies and offer you the confidence you need to move forward. Our firm proudly serves clients throughout Pittsburgh, the Greater Pittsburgh Area, and surrounding counties across Pennsylvania. Set up a consultation today. 

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

When a family member dies, the first thing to do is to obtain the legal pronouncement of death. In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, only physicians, registered nurses (RN), coroners, and certified nurse practitioners (CRNP) are allowed to pronounce and certify death. 

Do I need to get death certificates? 

Furthermore, you will need the legal pronouncement of death to obtain a death certificate, which can be used to: 

  • Commence the probate process 

  • Claim life insurance 

  • Access bank accounts and financial records 

  • Access pension benefits 

  • Arrange for a funeral or burial 

  • Settle estate and final affairs 

You will need the legal pronouncement of death and death certificate when dealing with the decedent's financial institutions, bank accounts, and retirement plans. Hence, you're advised to make multiple copies and store them away safely. 

Who do I need to notify? 

Next, you should notify the deceased person's immediate family members, close relatives, friends, and dependents about their loved one's passing. Also, inform employers, coworkers, colleagues, social security offices, brokers, financial institutions, banks, service providers, insurance carriers, and other required parties or entities about the person's death. 

What funeral arrangements should be made? 

Some individuals often leave instructions about funeral arrangements and final wishes prior to their death by use of the "disposition of final remains" document. If the document is available, you may also find instructions about how to treat the decedent's body. Most importantly, make sure you honor your deceased loved one's wishes. 

If the death was sudden and there is no instruction about burial and funeral arrangements, you will have to handle such matters. Some of the options available for the deposition of final remains in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania include: 

  • Cremation 

  • Above-ground burial 

  • In-ground burial 

  • Whole-body donation 

  • Organ donation. 

Choose the right option and give your deceased family member a fitting burial ceremony and funeral arrangement. 

What about children and pets? 

Losing a loved one can be difficult for surviving minor children, dependents, close relatives, or pets of the deceased person. It’s important to make adequate provisions for their care, comfort, and welfare. 

During such a challenging period, they need all the support and love they can get. You can provide a temporary place for them to live or take them in. In addition, you should locate the deceased person's living trust or will. You may be able to find specific instructions regarding guardianship, conservatorship, and caretaker arrangements for pets in their estate plan. 

How is the will or trust handled? 

Locate the deceased person's will, living trust, and other estate planning documents. Identify the personal representative, trustee, or executor named in the will or trust. The personal representative or executor and trustee will handle estate administration and trust administration, respectively. Make sure that the decedent's estate and final affairs are settled according to their wishes or provisions of the estate plan. 

Do I need an attorney? 

After a loved one's passing, getting detailed advocacy is imperative to plan their funeral arrangements, settle their estate and final affairs, and sort out other essential tasks. You should work with an experienced estate planning/estate administration lawyer for knowledgeable guidance during this time. 

Seek Trusted Legal Guidance  

The death of a family member can leave you unsettled and confused about the next steps to take. However, you don't have to go through this alone. At Law Offices of Kelton M. Burgess, LLC, we understand how difficult losing a loved one can be. Our attorney is poised and ready to offer you the dedicated support and reliable guidance you need to navigate crucial decisions. As your legal counsel, we will enlighten you about the necessary post-death activities you need to sort out. We will also help you inform the decedent's loved ones and plan a befitting burial for the deceased. In addition, our attorney will walk you through the probate proceedings and help settle the estate seamlessly.   

Contact the Law Offices of Kelton M. Burgess, LLC, today to schedule a simple consultation with a seasoned estate administration attorney. Our lawyer can offer you the detailed legal guidance you need to manage all estate settlement and post-death tasks diligently. Our firm proudly serves clients throughout Pittsburgh, the Greater Pittsburgh Area, and surrounding counties across Pennsylvania.