Losing someone, even when expected, can cause intense grief, especially in the immediate aftermath. You probably won’t want to do anything but mourn in peace and move on.
Unfortunately, certain things must happen after someone dies, some for legal purposes and others regarding their estate. If you find it hard to focus on these responsibilities while grieving, the information below may help you find some clarity.
Pronouncement of death
When someone dies in a hospital or nursing home, the medical staff will provide a formal pronouncement. However, if they pass at home, you may need to obtain a legal pronouncement of death. Consider calling 911 to report what happened. The responding ambulance crew can confirm the death and transport your loved one to a facility for an official pronouncement.
Notify interested parties
Of course, you will want to reach out to the friends and relatives of your loved one to let them know about the death. The person named as your family member’s estate executor (unless it is you) should also be notified so they can begin their administration duties.
Find the will and other documents
It is likely that the contents of your loved one’s estate planning documents will guide your next steps. For example, their plan may include funeral, burial and other end-of-life instructions. If you make such arrangements without knowing their wishes, you may accidentally go against them.
Prepare for probate
Probate essentially means proving that a will is valid under Virginia law, but there is much more to it than that. For example, complex assets (stock, intellectual property, etc.) left for you and other heirs could complicate and prolong probate. Legal guidance may help you navigate this process without compromising your rights.