Here’s what to do when a loved one dies.

The list of things you need to do after someone dies can seem endless, but don’t forget to take the time to process your emotions and grieve with other family members.

After a loved one dies, their affairs need to be set in order. You might find yourself planning a funeral, paying bills and closing accounts. The list of things you need to do after someone dies can seem endless, especially during a time when you are also grieving.

  • Get organized.
  • Take inventory.
  • Identify the executor.
  • Get a death certificate.
  • Contact your professional advisors.
  • Take a step back.
  • Don’t make major decisions for a year.
  • Make sure your spouse’s last wishes are carried out.

Get Organized

Start by making of list of everything you need to do, so you can check off the things you have accomplished and make a note of what still needs to be done. “We start tackling tasks and then we forget who we talked to and where we put things,” says Dana Anspach, a certified financial planner and CEO of Sensible Money in Scottsdale, Arizona. “The answer could be a binder. It might mean enlisting the help of a family member to log emails and phone calls and make a checklist. Taking the time to get organized is really important.”

Take Inventory

You will need to look at your spouse’s will and estate plan. “Gather the documents you will need,” Anspach says. “If your spouse handled all finances it will be overwhelming figuring out which bills they pay from which accounts. If it is all online, that can make it more challenging to track things down, figure out passwords and find out how to access those accounts.” A tax return can be a good way to locate various types of financial assets.

Identify the Executor

The executor is the person who will carry out the terms of the will. “That person is responsible for all the housekeeping essentials of organizing someone’s estate,” says Mark Brown, managing partner at Brown & Company in Denver, Colorado.

Sign up for my newsletter!

With my latest news and features