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First Steps When a Loved One Dies 

The Law Office of Mario Flores, PLLC Aug. 31, 2022

Cemetery GravestonesLosing a loved one is never easy. Even if you felt you were prepared, you may still find it quite difficult to say your goodbyes and heal. Unfortunately, while mourning the loss of your departed loved one, there are several critical tasks that you must sort out. A skilled Texas estate planning attorney can enlighten you about the first steps to take when a loved one dies and help you make intelligent decisions. 

At The Law Office of Mario Flores, PLLC, I completely understand how difficult it can be to lose a loved one. I’m ready and poised to assist, advise, and guide the decedent’s survivors during such a grieving period. As your legal counsel, I’m available to discuss your personal situation and help you understand the first steps, different activities, and legal considerations you need to address. My firm is proud to serve clients across Austin, Georgetown, San Marcos, and Round Rock, Texas. 

What Is The First Thing I Should Do When A Loved One Dies? 

Once a family member is confirmed dead in Texas, the first thing to do is to get a legal pronouncement of death. You can use the legal pronouncement of death to obtain the death certificate, which can be used to achieve the following: 

  • Access the deceased person’s bank accounts and financial records 

  • Claim life insurance 

  • Access pension benefits 

  • Start the probate process 

  • Arrange for a funeral 

  • Settle the deceased person’s estate 

  • Settle the deceased person’s final affairs 

You can obtain the legal pronouncement of death and the death certificate from a medical examiner or funeral home. Ensure that you make several copies for safekeeping and for bank accounts, retirement plans, and financial institutions. 

Who Do I Need to Notify? 

You need to get in touch with the immediate family members, friends, dependents, and close relatives of the deceased person. They need to know of their loved one’s demise if they don’t already know. Likewise, you should inform any employers, coworkers, brokers, professional relationships, Social Security offices, banks, financial institutions, insurance companies, service providers, and other concerned parties. 

What Funeral Arrangements Should Be Made?  

Look for estate planning documents that indicate the decedent’s final wishes. Find out whether there is a “disposition of final remains” document. Here, you will find instructions regarding how the deceased person wants you to treat their body following their death. It is your duty to honor the decedent’s exact wishes. 

Conversely, if the death was sudden with no prior conversations about burial and funeral arrangements, you will have the onus to make decisions about the disposition of final remains. The available options include cremation, in-ground or above-ground burial, whole-body donation, or organ donation. Above all, ensure that the funeral arrangements and burial ceremony are as befitting as they can be. 

What About Children and Pets? 

If the deceased person is survived by minor children, dependents, close relatives, or pets, make adequate provisions for their welfare and care. In the meantime, you can take them in and give them your dedicated support, compassionate assistance, and love while they grieve. 

Also, locate the trust, last will and testament, and other estate planning documents as soon as you can. Check whether there are provisions for guardianships and caretakers. In the event that the person died intestate (without a will or estate plan), the Texas courts may be called upon to help decide the best arrangement for the deceased person’s minor children and pets. 

How Is the Will or Trust Handled? 

Locate the deceased person’s estate plan. Identify the personal representative, executor, or successor trustee. The personal representative or trustee will administer the decedent’s estate and help settle their final affairs. Most importantly, they will ensure that estate assets and property are transferred to rightful beneficiaries and heirs in accordance with the provisions of the will or trust documents. 

Do I Need an Attorney? 

The various activities that follow the death of a loved one can be overwhelming when added to emotional grief. These include finding and notifying family members, planning for a funeral and burial, administering their estate, and navigating probate proceedings. It is never advisable to manage all these tasks and activities on your own without experienced guidance. Hiring an experienced estate planning attorney immediately is imperative to help you with the funeral arrangements, estate administration tasks, and other important activities. 

Trusted Guidance When You Need It Most  

Getting trusted legal guidance when a loved one dies is crucial to ease the burden of the loss and carry out the next steps. At The Law Office of Mario Flores, PLLC, I have devoted my career to offering experienced legal services and guiding clients through the complexities of probate and estate administration. 

As your legal counsel, I can evaluate your unique circumstances and enlighten you about the necessary steps to take after losing a loved one. Also, I will write a detailed checklist of what to do when a family member dies, help you execute each task diligently, and offer you the self-assurance you need to move forward. 

If you’ve lost a loved one in Texas, I’m here to support and guide you through this difficult time. Contact my firm – The Law Office of Mario Flores, PLLC – today to schedule a one-on-one consultation with a compassionate estate planning lawyer. My firm proudly serves clients across Austin, Georgetown, San Marcos, and Round Rock, Texas.