When a loved one passes away, the practical tasks can feel overwhelming.  Our checklist provides a step-by-step guide to help you navigate this challenging time with clarity and efficiency.  From notifying family and friends to handling legal and financial obligations, our checklist will offer guidance during this difficult time.

Checklist for What to Do After the Death of a Loved One


  • Inform family and friends.  Ask other family members for help planning funeral or celebration of life services.


  • Contact funeral home, cemetery, crematorium or whoever is taking the body according to the deceased’s wishes (if any).


  • If the deceased’s wishes are unknown, decide on disposition of remains and purchase an urn or casket as necessary.


  • If deceased was religiously affiliated, contact their parish, congregation, mosque or synagogue.


  • Arrange for funeral or celebration of life services:
    • (A) Be sure to check the deceased’s Estate Plan binder for any specific memorial instructions, paid burial plots or prepaid funeral plans.
    • (B) Order flowers.
    • (C) Inform friends and family of the date and time of the funeral or celebration of life services.
    • (D) Create a picture board or video stream of the deceased to display at the funeral home, church and/or celebration of life service site.
    • (E) Design memorial cards to be distributed at any services being held.
    • (F) If applicable, choose music, songs or hymns where the services are being held.
    • (G) Choose pallbearer’s or other family or friends who will be helping assist in any church, funeral home or celebration of life services.
    • (H) Create an obituary and send it to the local newspaper, funeral home and/or wherever else you’d like to see the obituary posted.  Include the deceased’s name, age, city of residence, date of death, birthplace and year of birth, who they are survived by, and a brief summary of who they were (for example, explain their life’s work, priorities, life philosophy, etc.).  Also, include any details of the funeral service or celebration of life service, if any.  Note: funeral homes are often willing to help you create this if you ask.
    • (I) When appropriate, post on social media about the death, but do not do so until all immediate family members have been notified.
    • (J) Notify any employers or business partners of the deceased’s death.


The Next 1-2 Weeks:

  • Notify Social Security of the death to stop any social security payments.  Most funeral homes do this as a courtesy, so it is smart to inquire.  If Social Security deposits a direct payment to the deceased’s checking account after they died or sends them a check, you will need to return that check or direct deposit to the Social Security Administration, Social Security Administration: 1-800-772-1213. 

Note: Once Social Security is aware of the death, they will usually automatically reverse a direct deposit for any payments that were made to the decedent’s bank account after death.

  • If you are the Trustee and/or Executor of the deceased’s estate, contact the post office to change the deceased’s mailing address to your address so that you get all of the deceased’s mail moving forward.


  • Contact an experienced Estate Attorney to administer the trust and/or to open up a Probate Court case to settle the estate.  Make an appointment with them before moving any assets around.  There are many rules and deadlines in a trust administration or Probate case. 

Seek counsel early to ensure all the rules and deadlines are met and to protect yourself as Trustee or Executor from lawsuits or IRS claims. 


  • Notify the deceased’s financial advisor and CPA, if known. Advise them of the death and connect them with the Estate Attorney.


  • Collect all of the estate planning documents and asset information of the deceased and send them to the Estate Attorney for review before your scheduled meeting.


If you, a friend or family member needs help administering a trust after the death of a loved one, please reach out to our intake team at (760) 448-2220, or you can reach us on our contact page at https://www.geigerlawoffice.com/contact.cfm.

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