The SevenPonds After Death Planning Guide: What Do I Do When Someone Dies?

If someone close to you has just died, you are likely feeling overwhelmed with the emotional, logistical, and legal tasks before you. Take a deep breath—we are here to help. View the Table of Contents below for a quick overview of what our guide offers. Clicking on each topic below will take you to the corresponding section in our guide.

The After Death Planning Guide is divided into five sections according to the process: 1: Immediate Help, 2: Choosing Disposition, 3: Settling Estate, 4: Remembrance Event, and 5: Healing Process, but feel free to browse them in any order that you choose. We have also provided you with a downloadable "After Death Checklist" that corresponds to the information included in this guide. The Checklist is yours to save and use as you would like for notes, records, and planning.

Note: The following legal and logistical information is most readily applicable to residents of California. However, where California’s laws or procedures differ greatly from those of the majority of other states, we have made an effort to make our out-of-state readers aware of this.

Table of Contents

1 Immediate Help
What Do I Do When Someone Dies?
What Should I Take Care of Immediately Following a Death?

1. Do I Have the Personal Information of the Person Who Passed?
Personal Information

2. Who Will Make the Decisions?
Spouse or Legal Next of Kin
Advance Health Care Directives

3. What Important Documents Do I Need?
Documents I Need to Locate
Documents I Need to Complete
Locating Important Documents 
Is There a Prepaid Disposition Plan?
Death Certificate

4. Which Family and Friends Do I Need to Contact?

5. Are There Dependents That Need Immediate Consideration?

6. Which Authorities Do I Need to Contact?
In a Hospital
In an Assisted Living Home, State Facility, or Hospice
At Home Without Hospice
At Home With Hospice
Unexpectedly or By Uncertain Means

7. What About DNA Sampling?

8. What About Organ Donation?
Drivers License
National Donor Websites
Living Will
Advance Health Care Directives 

9. How Do I Transport the Person’s Body or Cremated Ashes?
Transporting Between States
Transporting From Outside the U.S.
Burial Transit Permit

10. How Do I Place an Announcement or Obituary?

11. Am I Taking Care of Myself?

12. What Is Natural Death Care?
Keeping the Person Who Passed at Home

2 Choosing Disposition
What Do I Do When Someone Dies?

1. Protecting Your Consumer Rights 
The Funeral Rule 
Nonprofit Organizations

2. Choosing Cremation 
Your Cremation Options
Green Cremation Products
Cremation Pricing
Meaningful Options for Cremation Ashes

3. Choosing Natural Burial 
Locating a Natural Burial Site
Natural Burial on Private Property
Choosing Green Burial Products
Natural or Green Burial Pricing

4. Other Forms of Disposition 
Burial at Sea
Alkaline Hydrolysis
Funeral Pyre, or Open-Air Cremation

3 Settling the Estate
What Do I Do When Someone Dies?

1.Initial Tasks 
Arrange for Temporary Care of Minor Children and Other Dependents
Obtain Certified Copies of the Death Certificate
Look for a Will or Trust
Collect the Mail
Paying the Bills 
Secure the Residence, Automobiles, and Tangible Property
Notify Credit Card Companies and Credit Reporting Agencies
Notify the Employer
Notify Social Security
Notify Veterans Affairs Administration

2. Administering and Distributing Assets 
Revocable Living Trust
What if Property is not in the Trust?
Last Will and Testament
No Estate Plan
Small Estate Administration and Spousal Petitions
Joint Property
Pay-on-Death Account or a Totten Trust
Life Insurance Policies and Retirement Plans

3. Minors and Dependent Adults 
Guardian of the Person
Nomination of Guardian by Person Who Died
Assets of Minors
Dependent Adults

4. Tax Considerations 
Estate Taxes
Federal Estate Tax
State Estate Taxes
Income Taxes
Tax ID Number
Capital Gains Tax

5. Insurance 
Homeowners and Renters Insurance
Automobile Insurance
Health Insurance

6. Assets of the Estate 
Personal Residence
Other Real Estate
Bank Accounts
Business Interests
Tangible Property
Leftover Medications
Email and Networking Accounts
Asset Search Services

7. Digital Death
Digital Estate Services

4 Remembrance Event 
What Do I Do When Someone Dies?

1. Seeking Assistance in Planning 

2. Types of Services and Remembrance Events 
Type of Service
Memorial Service or Life Celebration
Ash Scattering
Home Funeral
Graveside Service
Other Options

3. Memorial Donations 

4. Event Invitations
Make a List of Potential Attendees
Preparing Invitations
Information to Include on Your Invitations

5. Location Options and Considerations

6. Other Details to Consider
Officiant or Celebrant
Photographers and Videographers

7. Personalizing the Event 

5 Healing Process
What Do I Do When Someone Dies?

1. What is Grief?

2. Ways to Heal
Recognize Grief
Take Care of Yourself
Talk to People
Join Grief Support
Keep Your Loved One’s Favorite Belongings
Draw Comfort From Spirituality and Religion
Express Yourself Creatively
Spend Time Practicing Favorite Hobbies
Engage in Physical Activity
Seek Out Healing Art
Join a Healing Retreat
Talk to a Doctor

3. Grieving as a Family
Go on Family Outings
Keep Old Traditions and Make New Ones
Look at Family Photos
Create a Memorial or Memory Object

4. Talking to Children About Death
Explain Death as Plainly as Possible
Talk Openly
Encourage Self-Expression
Allow a Child to Say Goodbye

5. Holistic Healing
Crystal Bowl Healing
Healing Retreats

6. Caregiver Burnout


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