When a loved one or family member passes away, it is normal to feel overwhelmed by grief and sadness. The last thing you want to do in these circumstances is to figure out what needs to be done to settle their affairs. However, despite these emotions, there are things you should take care of right away.
Get Legal Documents Regarding the Death
Obtaining a death certificate will be crucial to handling important tasks such as accessing bank and financial accounts. It is also required to file a claim for life insurance or to manage other personal affairs.
In Virginia, death certificates are maintained by the Department of Health’s Division of Vital Records. To obtain this certificate, a written request must be made to the Office of Vital Records. The request also needs to include the registrant’s name, date and place of death, the decedent’s relationship to the applicant, the reason for getting the copy, and payment.
Let Individuals Know of the Death
News travels fast, especially with social media. That is why you want to make sure that certain people are informed quickly of the passing, including the following:
- All the family members
- Close friends
- The employer and coworkers
- Others, such as close acquaintances
Once these individuals have been contacted, you can start letting certain government agencies and businesses know, including the Social Security office, banks and mortgage companies, financial advisors, and insurers.
Find Out if There was an Estate Plan
Ideally, you would have talked to your loved one before they passed away about any estate plans in place, such as whether your loved one created a Last Will and Testament or a trust. If nothing was discussed, check for documents in a desk or a safe deposit box. Just keep in mind that you may need proof that you are allowed to access the safety deposit box.
If your loved one left instructions regarding their last wishes, taking care of this step should be easy since you will have a clear understanding of what they wanted. However, if they did not leave these instructions, you will have to figure out funeral and burial arrangements, determine what to do with pets and other property, and even get the courts involved if there are guardianship issues.
Delete Social Media Accounts and Close Email Accounts
You can either delete social medical accounts or turn them into a memorial. Make sure to also close email accounts to stop identity theft and fraud. If you cannot access these accounts, you may need a copy of the death certificate to cancel them. However, the specifics will depend on the email provider.
Contact a Northern Virginia Estate Planning Attorney Today
If you recently lost a loved one in Northern Virginia and have no idea what to do after their death or are looking into creating your own estate plan, the legal team at Ardent Guardian is here to help. Contact us today to get the answers you need.