After a funeral, bereaved family members frequently wonder, “What happens next? What’s in store for me in the near future?” These are critical concerns, and we’d want to share what we’ve discovered with them. Here’s what happens after a funeral.
What Happens After A Funeral?
The memorial or funeral service has concluded. Things have started to settle down; perhaps the phone isn’t ringing as frequently as it used to, or fewer people are dropping by to see how you’re doing. The death of a loved one is becoming increasingly likely. And the prospect of facing your life in the coming weeks and months makes you feel both lonely and frightened. It all feels like too much to handle right now, and we want you to know that it’s acceptable to put yourself first.
Let’s just say you have two major tasks ahead of you in the coming weeks and months. One, you should exercise exquisite self-care as much as feasible. Second, you must devote some time to completing the documentation that will change your loved one’s status with banks and creditors, as well as employers, insurance providers, and mortgage holders.
Be prepared for the “long haul” as this might be a lengthy procedure. Then there are the ongoing duties that you can’t avoid, such as caring for your children or grandchildren; seeing why you need to find a balance, and giving “self-care” activities a little more weight wherever possible.
When you’re resting, think of one or two people who would be willing to assist you with the papers left behind after your loved one’s death. Make a mental note of their names as they come to you; early bereavement is known to cause misunderstanding. Keep a pen and a pad of paper with you at all times to take down any other essential thoughts that come to mind while your brain is “idle.”
What is the state of your relationship?
Let’s face it: the degree to which your grief makes you vulnerable, as well as the quantity of “paperwork” you’ll have to deal with, are both dependent on the relationship you had with the deceased. If you are the surviving husband, a daughter, or son–or have been named as the appointed executor–your responsibilities regarding the death papers will be far greater than if you were just a caring niece, nephew, or friend.
“I have so much paperwork,” Gabrielle Zevin writes in her book Elsewhere. While her statements are amusing, they provide a very true representation of the quantity of paperwork that may lie ahead of you right now. Those of us who are highly well-organized should have fewer problems; the unstructured among us, on the other hand, are a different story. Here’s a list of tasks you might be dealing with in the following weeks:
Organize yourself. Locate and save as many of the following papers as possible (be sure to place them in a predefined set of file folders and keep them accessible):
- Certificate of Birth
- State Identification Card or Driver’s License
- Obtain a passport (if applicable; not everyone has a passport)
- Certificate of Marriage
- Divorce documents (if applicable)
- Real and personal property deeds and titles
- Claim Number from the Veterans Administration (or service discharge papers)
- Recent Tax Return Forms
- W-2 forms (if employed)
- Records of recent hospitalizations
- Life, health, and auto insurance documentation (there may be more than one policy in each category)
After the Funeral, There Are 17 Things To Do
1. Obtain a notebook before proceeding.
Every phone conversation, email, or piece of postal correspondence should have the date and time recorded; if you did it, write it down. Make a note of the person you spoke with: their full name, job title, and employer identification or extension number.
2. Certified copies of the death certificate should be requested.
To find out how many you’ll need, speak with one of our funeral specialists.
3. Look for a will left by the dead.
Contacting your family attorney, examining your safe deposit box or home safe, visiting the state Will Registry may be necessary.
4. If necessary, have your mail rerouted.
To learn more about how to file a Change of Address form, go to the United States Postal Service website or visit your local post office.
5. Stop paying for health insurance.
Keep your file folders handy in case you need to supply them with extra information.
6. The employer or union should be contacted.
Check to see whether any death-related benefits are available, ask (and answer) questions, and update any pertinent contact information.
7. Always remember to pay your bills.
Some people get their payments paid automatically, but if this isn’t the case in your situation, you’ll need to deal with them before they become late. If you’re worried about falling behind on your bills, talk to a utility representative about setting up a payment plan.
8. Start probate proceedings.
Even if you aren’t the executor, you can start probate court procedures if you have an interest in the estate (but only if the designated executor of the estate fails to do so in a timely manner).
9. Notify the utility companies.
The accounts may be terminated or the account owner’s name and contact information updated, depending on the situation.
10. Real and personal property titles are transferred.
Any change in ownership of a vehicle, boat, motorcycle, RV, or plane must be reported to your state’s motor vehicle department.
11. Credit card accounts can be closed or modified.
A certified copy of the death certificate will most certainly be required for each of them. Keep those file folders handy once more.
12. Make contact with life insurance providers.
Although not everyone has life insurance, some people do have multiple policies.
13. Notify other policyholders that their “Beneficiary” status has changed.
If your loved one was a designated beneficiary on other people’s insurance policies, investments, or bank accounts, you’ll need to notify them of his or her death.
14. Make plans to terminate or change bank accounts.
You may be able to change it to your own name depending on your link to the deceased.
15. Put your name on stocks and bonds.
This, too, is contingent on your relationship with the deceased. You’ll need to provide a certified copy of the death certificate to all parties involved once more.
16. Notify other agencies of the death.
You may need to notify the Social Security Administration or the Veterans Administration, depending on the deceased’s age or military status (or both).
17. Take care of their digital property.
If they were active on social media, you’ll need to notify the appropriate networking sites of their new status.
A funeral is a very personal occasion that usually reflects your loved one’s wishes. Some people may have pre-paid for their funeral before they died, or if they died unexpectedly, the bereaved family may pick how they want to say farewell to their loved one.