No matter how thorough a loved one’s estate plan is after he or she passes away, you may feel overwhelmed and not know what to do. In some situations, your family may be forced to make stressful decisions before your family member has passed away. For example, after they found Bobbi Kristina, daughter of late singer Whitney Houston, unresponsive in her Georgia home, her family was forced to make the difficult decision to move the 22-year-old to a hospice facility after five months of hospitalization led to no improvement. Regardless of the circumstances, being aware of the first things you should do when a loved one dies helps made a painful situation easier for your family to bear.

Contact Immediate Family

In today’s constantly connected world, information spreads quickly thanks to mobile devices and social media. Once someone has passed away, contacting other immediate family members is extremely important. Even though you may not be able to offer them physical support, you can make sure they do not find out about the passing of someone close to them from a third party.  Contacting immediate family members can also help you discover vital information about your loved one’s burial wishes, estate plan, or special instructions of which you are not aware.

Check Organ Donor Status

Finding out if your loved one intended to donate organs is something that is often done by healthcare providers if your loved one passed away in a hospital or accident. If your loved one passed away at his or her home or away from any medical professionals, you may need to make inquiries on your own. There is a limited window on organ donations making the task time sensitive. Often, your loved one will record his or her wishes in a living will, with his or her healthcare provider, or on his or her driver’s license. If your loved one did wish to donate organs and passed away at home, contact a local hospital to make arrangements to fulfill your loved one’s organ donation wishes.

Initiate Funeral Arrangements

If your loved one has left instructions regarding burial wishes, do your best to adhere to them.  When a loved one has not left instructions, contact a local funeral home or reach out to organizations who can provide burial assistance. The military assists the family of veterans and often local churches, organizations, and some employers are able to help you make arrangements.

Do Not Go Through it Alone

The tasks that must be completed immediately after someone close to you passes away do not need to be done without assistance. An elder law lawyer who is familiar with the tasks needed to ensure that final wishes are complied with is often able to help your family during this difficult time. The compassionate attorneys at MMZ Law realize how daunting end of life tasks are and can provide you with the answers you need to properly manage your loved one’s last requests and estate. Contact our office today and schedule a private consultation at our Claremont location so that we can begin giving you the legal assistance that you need.

*We service Elder Law through Medi-Cal Asset Protection Planning



341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711

MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.

This information is educational information only and not legal advice.