Things to Do After The Death of a Loved One

Lisa M. Bitter, Esq.

Within first 24 hours:

-Determine whether any of decedent's property needs to be safeguarded, such as a motor vehicle, vacant house, etc.

-Locate the decedent's letter of instruction regarding funeral arrangements, burial, etc., if any.

- Ensure that proper funeral arrangements have been made.

-Order at least five (5) death certificates from the funeral home.

 Within two weeks:

-Locate the decedent's letter of instruction, if any.

- Locate the original Will and read it.  Notify the executor of the Will of the decedent's death.

Responsibilities of the Executor or Administrator of Estate within the next two to four weeks:

-Locate important records such as bank account records, titles, deeds and life insurance policies.

-Notify as soon as possible decedent's banks of the date of decedent's death.

-Contact Post Office to make any necessary changes in delivery of mail.

-Make appointment with an attorney to discuss estate.

-Gather together and organize financial documents:

        -Bank accounts owned by decedent.

        -Mutual funds owned by decedent.

        -Brokerage accounts owned by decedent.

        -Certificates of Deposit in decedent's name.

        -Stock Certificates registered in decedent's name.

        -Any promissory notes under which decedent was entitled to receive payment.

        -Titles to Motor Vehicles and/or Mobile Homes that are listed in decedent's name.

        -Deeds to real property owned by decedent.

        -Any appraisals of jewelry or other valuable personal property owned by decedent.

        -Obtain the date of death account balances on mortgages, loans, checking and savings accounts as of the date of death.

-Bring original Will, financial documents, balances, death certificates, and all items listed above to meeting with attorney.

-Notify life insurance company(ies) of the death and request claim(s) forms.

-If mortgage insurance on home exists, notify insurance company of death.

-Determine if any bills must be paid immediately.

-Contact creditors who are demanding immediate payment and notify creditor of death.

-Notify credit card companies of death.

-Cancel any credit cards on which decedent was the only signer.

-Obtain bill for last illness from hospital.

Within one month:

-Notify Social Security of the death, and any other organization paying on retirement or paying an annuity upon death

-Determine if the decedent had any safe deposit boxes.  If so, notify the estate attorney.

-Notify CPA, accountant or bookkeeper of the death.

 Within two to six months:

-If the title to any automobile is held jointly with another person, notify your attorney to assist you in changing the motor vehicle titles to reflect ownership only by the surviving joint tenant.

-If stocks or bonds are held jointly with other persons, notify your attorney to assist you with changing the title to reflect ownership only by the surviving joint tenant.


Lisa M. Bitter, Esq., Benjamin, Yocum & Heather, LLC, 300 Pike Street, Suite 500, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 (513) 721-5672.