24th Dec 2013

The death of a loved one, whether it is expected (after a long illness) or unexpected, leaves us overwhelmed and numb with shock.  Nevertheless it is important that you do not become immobilized by grief, especially if you are the one taking care of the funeral arrangements or executing the will.

As a Orange County estate planning lawyer, I know first hand that there are several different phone calls you need to make after a love one is pronounced dead.
A licensed funeral director.  If your loved one availed a prepaid funeral plan, you should call the funeral house accredited by that company.  Otherwise, call a funeral house of your choice.  The funeral house will then take care of the final arrangements.
All parties that can benefit your loved one’s beneficiaries. These include life insurance companies, employers, Social Security, and any fraternal or professional organizations your loved one may be a member of.
An Orange County estate planning lawyer.  An estate planning lawyer will be able help you with your next steps.  When you find the Will or Living Trust, you should call the Executor (if it is a Will) or the Trustee (if it is a Living Trust). If you are the Executor or the Trustee, then you have more work cut out for you.  
Banks.  Call the banks where your loved one maintains an account.  Ask them how the money can be withdrawn.
Credit card companies, utilities and other subscriptions.  Call these companies to terminate the subscription.  Or at the very least, to inform them that the subscriptions will not be renewed.
Relatives, friends and clergy.  I put this last on the list simply because their number can be overwhelming.  After you have made the phone calls pertaining to your loved one’s insurance benefits, estate planning papers, subscriptions and financial obligations, you can now focus on calling your relatives.      

Among the parties listed above, it may be possible that your loved one does not have an estate planning attorney.  He or she may not have left a Will or a Living Trust.  My advice for such cases is: get a lawyer. For your sake and for the other beneficiaries of your loved one’s estate, you will be better protected with a lawyer.

Please note that for you to make all the necessary phone calls, you must have the necessary phone numbers and documents on hand.  If you do not, it may be challenging to find everything you need.  Being able to make the necessary phone calls when a loved one passes away is as much a part of estate planning as executing a will or a living trust.  Contact Tompkins Law today for more information and advice.


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