When a loved one dies, it’s important that you take the right steps to protect their estate. Immediately, you’ll need to obtain a legal pronouncement of death. For example, if you find that your mother has passed in her sleep, you should call 911 and have paramedics come to the scene. If your loved one had a do-not-resuscitate order, you should keep that on hand to make sure that paramedics don’t have to start emergency procedures.
Not all paramedics are allowed to pronounce the death of a person. If they cannot, you should expect your loved one to be taken to a local emergency room. There, a doctor can make the declaration.
After this, you’ll need to make sure that the body is moved. If you want an autopsy, you should speak with the emergency team about taking your loved one to the hospital first. If you do not want an autopsy, then a mortuary or crematorium may be able to pick up your loved one from your home.
Once this is done, you’ll need to let your loved one’s medical provider and the county coroner know that they have passed away. You can start making calls to your family at this time as well.
Remember to take care of any pets or dependents who are in the home, such as children who need to be placed with a guardian or dogs or cats that need to be housed. Your loved one’s estate plan may have information on where they need to go.
Within the next few days, you’ll be taking on the role of the executor. You may need to arrange your loved one’s funeral or cremation. You should also reach out to their attorney to begin working on the estate distribution process.
What should you do if you don’t want to be the executor after your loved one passes?
It’s understandable that your loved one’s death may be painful and make it hard for you to function as their executor. The likelihood is that they have more than one person named to become an executor. Speak with their attorney and ask if there is another person who can take over the role. If no one else is appointed, the court may need to get involved. A judge would need to appoint a new individual to handle the estate if you decide to step down from the role and no other person is available to take it on.