What to Do When Your Parent Passes Away
Losing a parent can be devastating, regardless of your age. You can never be truly prepared for the loss. The emotional trauma can be overwhelming, taking a toll on your physical and mental health. The burden may be heavier if you are responsible for handling the funeral arrangements for your Mom or Dad.
As an adult, you not only have to deal with the grief but also handle all the legal aspects that come with the death of your loved one. The period after can be highly emotive, leaving most people confused and overwhelmed.
Even though you may need to make certain decisions quickly, remember to take some time off and grieve. You do not have to take on the mantle alone. Let your friends and family help you through the entire period. Some tasks suggested in this guide can only be done by the administrator of the estate. Therefore, it would be best to try and work together with them to ensure a decent send-off.
If you are unsure of where to start, here are 23 suggestions of activities that you can undertake during the funeral arrangements for your parent. Here\’s what to do immediately after learning about the death:
1. Get a Legal Pronouncement of Their Passing
Knowing where to begin is the hardest step for most bereaved families. Firstly, you may need to obtain legal paperwork from the doctors for adults at the hospital or nursing home to register the death. The staff will assist you with the legal formalities. If your parent died under hospice care, call the nurse in charge. If they were aren\’t at a medical facility or a nursing home, call 991. Explain what happened to the best of your ability, remaining calm amidst the tough situation.
2. Contact an Organ Donation Agency, If Applicable
As the hospital or hospice prepares the legal paperwork, you can look for any documents that might detail specific funeral arrangements for them. If your parent is an organ donor, inform the hospital immediately. Organ donations are usually time-sensitive, and it would help if you act quickly on this task. Suppose your loved one passed away while at home, contact the nearest hospital.
3. Notify Immediate Family
The next hurdle would be to notify the next of kin (besides you.) Depending on the relationship level you have with them, you can choose the right medium of communication to use. A call or in-person visits are widely accepted measures. Every family is unique, and some would not mind a text or an email. To take the burden off your shoulders, you can enlist help from other family members to ensure everyone receives the message.
4. Arrange for Transport
The first step is to identify any specific instructions left behind about the funeral arrangements for your parent. A 2018 Survey by the National Funeral Directors Association showed that 26% of Americans have spoken to a loved one about their funeral. What was their wish for their final disposition? Did they want cremation or make any prepayments to funeral homes? Most hospitals and nursing homes have special morgues that can hold the body for a limited time before the funeral company transfers them. If your loved one was a registered body doner, you could contact the program manager to hand over the body to them. It is advisable to conduct a quick search of the funeral planning services you wish to pick. Doing your homework can save you thousands of dollars and lessen the risk of unforeseen surprises.
5. Notify Friends and Colleagues
You may need to share the news with other close friends and colleagues. You can reach out to their employer, informing them of your parent\’s passing. During the call, you can take the opportunity to ask about payments owed, benefits and insurance. You can also utilize this time to inform their landlord if your parent was living in a rental.
Here\’s what to do within a few days after passing:
1. Conduct Funeral Arrangements for Mom or Dad
The next step would be to coordinate the funeral plans. If you decided to work with a funeral home, go through the different burial services options you may have. If your parent requested an immediate burial or cremation in the letter of wishes, you could always hold a celebration of life party later on. Discuss the payment options that the funeral home prefers. How much will customized add-ons cost you?
2. Decide on Temporary Custody for Their Pets or Dependents
If your mom or dad had any dependents living with them, it would be best to find them a temporary place to live in before deciding on the final custodian after the funeral. One of the relatives or close friends can take them in. The same applies to any of their furry friends. Look for neighbors or family members that can adopt their cat or dogs.
3. Secure the Home
The next step would be to head over to their place and secure it. Ensure that their cars and home are locked up. If they lived in a rented apartment, you could inform the landlord to secure at the place. If it may sit vacant for a while, you can head over to the local police precinct to request that officers who are patrolling the area be on high alert. Cancel any deliveries to the home such as newspapers, flowers, or milk.
4. Notify Notable Organizations
Your parent may have been part of social and professional organizations that would contribute towards their send-off. If your mom or dad was a veteran, you could receive financial help towards the funeral arrangements for them. You can look up the VA website for additional information.
5. Contact USPS
You may also need to reach out to the US postal service to request that they forward the mail to you. It prevents the mail from piling at their doorstep, indicating that the house is probably unoccupied. Besides, forwarding the mail may help you discover the credit card debts, bills, and subscriptions that they had. You can then use this information to reach out to the relevant organizations for cancellations.
What to do in days leading to the funeral or celebration of life:
1. Create a Memorial Website
Societal changes and technological advancements have made it easier to communicate or pass important messages to friends and family during these difficult periods. In less than 20 minutes, you can now create a memorial website that you can fill with memories and pictorials about your life with them. You can also use the website as an online guestbook where close family members and friends can share words of support to the family.
2. Create an Obituary
As part of the funeral arrangements for your parents, you may need to design and publish an obituary to inform people of the loss. You can scourge the internet for obituary templates that you can use to come up with a draft. Once complete, you can contact the local newspaper for publishing. You can also opt to use digitized achieves as an alternative.
3. Determine If You Need Financial Assistance
According to the FTC\’s Consumer Information page, funeral arrangements for the deceased may use an average of $8755. This can be a colossal figure, especially for families that have used up their resources on MRI scans, doctor\’s appointments, and other hospital costs. While there are ways to save money, you can choose to crowdfund for a decent send-off for your Pops. The memorial website would be an excellent platform to drop a link where friends and family can contribute.
4. Plan a Thorough Check for the Home
You can also utilize this period to carry out a more in-depth search of the home, identifying important legal documents for safekeeping. You can also prepare the house for a memorial or a celebration of life party by lightly cleaning up the home. You can toss out food that may spoil and water the house plants to prevent them from drying up. Their unfinished kitchen remodeling project may have to stall for a while. You can also organize to donate their wheelchair, walkers, and lift chair to charity organizations around the home.
5. Decide on the Funeral Schedule or Activities for the Celebration of Life Party
The last activity during this period would be to host the funeral service. Part of the funeral arrangements for your parent should be to create a schedule that the congregants will follow. What events are part of the formal service? You can choose to live stream the service, sharing the link to the memorial website. Some families may prefer to host a celebration of life part instead of the traditional burial ceremony. It\’s less somber and more jovial, allowing guests to enjoy a degree of freedom during service.
What to do in the weeks after the service:
1. Get the Death Certificate
For most people, the period after the funeral service is the most difficult. With the support of the family and close friends, you may have time to process the grief. The funeral home director can help you process the death certificate. If you suspect that the cause of death was due to another individual\’s negligent actions, you can contact your lawyer to initiate a wrongful death lawsuit against them.
2. Arrange for a Gravestone
In most instances, the gravestone is never ready before the burial date. You can order the headstone through the cemetery. There are online sites that you can decide to purchase from. Ensure that you conduct proper research of the vendors and ask to see work samples before placing your order.
3. Contact Your Probate Lawyer
After the funeral service, it would be prudent to call in a probate attorney to kickstart the will\’s execution. If your mom or dad left behind a will, the lawyer will file the document at the probate court. If there isn\’t any, the court may place an estate administrator to oversee the distribution of assets and inheritances.
4. Inform the Social Security Office
You may also need to reach out to the social security office as part of the post-service funeral arrangements for your parent. Most funeral homes may do this on behalf of the family. Reach out to the director for confirmation. Reporting the death can help you apply for social benefits. If you wish to notify them of the demise or apply for the benefits, you can call 1-800-772-1213 or visit the local office. For more information, refer to the social security website.
5. Notify Banks and Mortgage Companies
You may need to contact their bank and mortgage companies and inform them of your parents\’ demise. Carry copies of the death certificate to each financial institution and change the account\’s ownership. It would also be the right time to ask about what happens to the multifamily loans that your parent took. You should also reach out to credit card companies and issue them with a copy of the death certificate.
6. Reach Out to Their Insurance Companies
You can use your family attorney to reach out to their insurer for claims for life insurance policies that your parent had. You can also update your policy if you had listed your Mom or Dad. You may also raise questions about other policies held, such as their title insurance and how to proceed after your parent\’s death. You may also have to call independent agents to cancel the Medigap policies.
7. Clear Important Bills
The next step would be to clear any pending bills such as water and electricity. Create a plan that ensures that you continue to pay the dues on time.
8. Delete or Memorialize Their Social Accounts
A common practice in today\’s digital world is the memorization of social media accounts. You may need the death certificate as proof of the death and evidence of your relationship with them. Memorization or closing of their social media handles may help prevent identity theft.
Losing a parent can be difficult for anyone. Following these 23 suggestions can ease the burden during the challenging period. Remember to always ask for help whenever you feel overwhelmed with the funeral arrangements for your Mom or Dad.