What to Do After a Love One Dies?

Nov 30, 2017


Losing a loved one is never easy. Dealing with the loss, notifying all loved ones, planning a funeral and trying to figure out what all has to be taken care of is overwhelming to say the least. Here is some guidance on what you will need to obtain, gather and do to help make sure you are not forgetting any important steps during an extremely emotional time.


You will need a death certificate. The funeral home can help you obtain one or you can request one from your local Vital Statistics Office. We recommend ordering several at once, this will save you money and time. In the State of Wisconsin, the current cost is $20 for one certified copy and $3.00 for each additional copy of the certificate ordered at the same time.


You will want to make sure Social Security Administration has been notified; this is typically done by the funeral home director. However, you may want to contact them directly to check for eligibility of Social Security death benefits. If your love one was receiving Medicare, Veteran Benefits or any other benefits, you will want to notify them as well. Dealing with the overpayment of benefits can be a daunting process.

Depending on your loved one’s situation at the time of their death you may also have to notify a landlord or other rental agencies, any insurance companies, employer pension and benefits, membership programs, banks, financial institutions and credit card companies.


Locate and gather all important documentations. You will want to check for a safety deposit box, home safe or filing cabinets. Look for the following:

Will, trust or any other estate planning documents

Social Security Card

Birth Certificates

Marriage Certificate

Insurance policies

Financial Statements

Deeds and Titles to property

Recent Income Taxes

All debts and liabilities


Put together a list of all tangible property, personal property and financial assets. You may need to contact the bank, the financial advisor and employer if applicable. Look for the following:

Real Estate


Bank Accounts

Retirement Accounts

Stocks and bonds

Insurance policies

Household goods


After compiling the list of assets you should take any necessary steps to secure the assets until it is time to disperse them to the heirs or be sold.


Meeting with an attorney can help determine whether probate is necessary in your loved one’s circumstances. Make sure to bring your list of assets, debts and any estate planning documents to the meeting. The attorney can review the documents and let you know if the estate will have to go through the probate system.

In Wisconsin, an estate can avoid probate if the assets are worth $50,000 or less. Since some assets can be transferred outside of a will, such as retirement accounts and bank accounts, avoiding probate is definitely a possibility for many. Probate may also be avoided if the love one had a revocable trust.

An attorney can also help the personal representative receive the authority to pay bills, sell and transfer automobiles and real estate. If your loved one died without a will, an attorney can explain the intestate process and help you through it.


Unfortunately, we will all have to deal with the death of a loved one at some point in our lives. Knowing what needs to be done before dealing with the loss of a loved one can be very beneficial. So can working with an experienced probate attorney. Pedersen Law Office, LLC offers free consults in all of our areas of practice and will meet with you personally to discuss your specific circumstances and see what options are available for you. Our law office serves the communities of Appleton, Neenah, Menasha, Oshkosh, Green Bay and their surrounding areas.

Category: Wills & Trusts

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