One of the things I love about my practice is that my clients often give me hugs and say “thank you” because they know that I’ve helped them.  One of the things I don’t love is when someone calls to tell me a client passed away.  It is always a sad occasion and never gets any easier.  On those sad occasions, I am almost always asked, “what do we do next?”  Here is a checklist of the top 10 things to do (from a legal standpoint) when a loved one dies.  This list is not intended to be all-inclusive, and the best thing to do is meet with family member’s estate planning attorney to make sure that everything is covered.


1)         If you don’t already know what they want for funeral services, search for paperwork that would inform you (and make sure they don’t already have pre-paid services);

2)         Call Social Security to report the death (sometimes, the funeral home will do this for you);

3)         Call their pension or other retirement benefits to inform of death;

4)         Search for Will and deposit with the Court within 10 days that custodian of Will has knowledge of death (per Florida law);

5)         Secure the assets of the decedent;

6)         Cancel subscriptions or other monthly contracts that are not needed, if possible

7)         Forward mail or check mail regularly (for bills, and to locate what else needs to be cancelled).

8)         Cancel credit cards of decedent and notify of death

9)         Order death certificates (and in FL, you may need some with cause of death and some without – the funeral home should be able to guide you)

10)       Gather and organize all financial documents


For more information about Florida Probate, please contact the Estate Planning  Offices of Law Ohall today.