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What Should I Do After The Death Of A Loved One?

A casket adorned with red roses and green leaves - Oklahoma Estate Attorneys, PLLC.At some point in your life, you are likely to face the daunting task of dealing with the death or imminent death of someone close to you. It’s a challenging time, and knowing what to do can be overwhelming. This article offers some guidelines to help you navigate this difficult period. Remember, these guidelines might not perfectly fit every situation, but they can serve as a foundation for planning and action. Keep reading to find out:

  • The necessity of promptly locating crucial documents for informed decisions after the passing of a loved one.
  • Strategies for handling funeral plans and organizing personal memorabilia.
  • The importance of detailed record-keeping for legal and financial matters in Oklahoma.

What Documents Are Essential To Find Immediately After The Death Of A Loved One?

When you find yourself in this situation, one of the first things you should consider is locating important documents. If the individual is still living but incapacitated, look for their advanced healthcare directive. This document outlines their wishes regarding medical treatments and interventions.

You should search for the healthcare power of attorney, which identifies the person authorized to make healthcare decisions on their behalf. These documents are often stored together and are crucial for guiding healthcare workers.

How Should I Manage Finding Funeral Or Burial Plans?

While searching for those documents, look for any funeral or burial plan. In many states, including Oklahoma, you are legally required to follow the decedent’s funeral and burial wishes. If you find such a document, make a note of its location, and consider taking a photo for future reference.

Locating these documents can be tricky, so you should think about possible places they might be stored, like a safety deposit box, file cabinet, or even at their workplace. It is a good idea to gently ask your loved one about the whereabouts of these important papers, including the contact details for their attorney and CPA.

What Steps Should I Take To Organize Contact Information?

To organize contacts you need to reach out to, compile a list of the closest relatives and friends, along with their contact information. There will likely come a time when you need to quickly reach out to these individuals, perhaps to notify them of a memorial service or other important events. This will be much less stress if you have compiled a list in advance.

What Information Is Needed For An Obituary?

When considering information for an obituary, you should think about the following:

  • Family members
  • Friends
  • Significant hobbies
  • Military or church affiliations

You might also want to compile fun or poignant stories that could be shared at a memorial or with a speaker at the event. Knowing where to find the deceased’s mail, including post office box keys or combinations, is also important. It is also important that you locate financial information like credit cards and bank accounts.

How Do I Identify And Manage Potential Family Conflicts?

Identifying potential family conflicts is a delicate yet crucial task. Consider who the family troublemaker might be and what they are likely to do. You can strategize ways to minimize the distress or damage they might cause.

If possible, and if no clear directives are found, ask your family about their preferred type of memorial service. Preferences can vary greatly, from traditional church services to more informal gatherings.

Are There Additional Steps In The Event Of A Sudden Death?

Sudden deaths, perhaps caused by a heart attack or an accident, require a different approach. You might need to secure the deceased’s house, change locks, and notify the alarm company. Notifying neighbors or landlords may be advisable, but only if they are trustworthy. Informing credit card companies and banks of the deceased’s passing is probably essential to prevent misuse of their accounts.

How Do I Handle Bank And Safety Deposit Box Matters?

When notifying banks of a death, inquire about safety deposit boxes. Banks may allow access to these boxes to inventory contents and locate important documents like wills. Be aware that people sometimes use different banks for their regular accounts and safety deposit boxes. Watch the mail for clues or ask family members about banks the deceased used.

Why Is Video Documentation Important?

Making a video record of important documents and valuables is highly recommended. This can be invaluable in proving what actions were taken and what items were present or absent. Such documentation can protect you from allegations of impropriety.

What Role Do Legal And Financial Advisors Play?

If the deceased had an attorney or CPA, contact them promptly. They may have copies of estate planning documents, which can be very useful, especially since the original last will and testament is crucial for legal proceedings.

How Should I Organize And Secure Important Documents?

Keep a file folder for important documents like tax bills, insurance policies, and utility bills. Reach out to utility companies to maintain essential services. If you struggle to find or access records or documents, consider speaking to a probate attorney about being appointed as a special administrator of the estate. This role can empower you to protect the estate and gather necessary information.

What Personal Items Should Be Collected For Memorial Purposes?

As you go through the home and files, gather pictures, awards, and other memorabilia that might be shared with friends and family at a memorial. Look out for military service documents, like DD 214 forms, if applicable. Inquire with local funeral homes about pre-arranged funeral plans or directives. It’s not uncommon for individuals to use the same funeral home that serviced other family members.

What Do I Do With Documents and Valuables?

Ensure you secure all valuables, including jewelry, vehicles, cash, and financial cards. Make video records of everything you secure to protect yourself from later claims of impropriety.

Why Is Keeping Detailed Notes And Records Important?

Maintain detailed notes, take photos, and make videos of everything that might be important for future reference. Your memory might not be at its best during this time, so detailed documentation is key. Keep a record of your expenses and travel on behalf of the estate, as you may be reimbursed later.

What Is The Significance Of The Original Last Will And Testament?

Finally, pay special attention to finding the original last will and testament. Courts generally require the original document for probate, and photocopies are typically insufficient. Take the original Will to a Probate attorney as the state law requires it be part of the Probate court file.

Keeping an accurate and detailed record of all your actions and findings is essential for appropriately managing the estate and fulfilling legal requirements. Make notes; lots of notes. Keep receipts. Write down reasons. Keep superior records to minimize the risk of personal liability.

For more information on what to do After The Death Of A Loved One In Oklahoma, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (405) 754-4166 today.

Terrell Monks, Esq. - Estate Planning Attorney, Edmond City

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(405) 754-4166

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