Grief, when someone close to you dies, can take a long time to deal with, and leave most people feeling like they need a break from the normal demands of life for a while.
But when someone close to you dies, there can be a lot to do in order to properly farewell them and finalise their affairs.
From arranging the funeral to fulfilling any wishes in relation to your loved one’s will, the checklist of matters to be attended to can become quite lengthy.
The advice and guidance of legal professionals experienced in what needs to happen after a person dies can be essential in helping you at a time when you may still be grieving, and supporting others who are as well.
What are the main things you need to do after someone close to you dies?
There are a number of priorities to attend to when someone close to you dies.
The most important priority in the first hours and days after your loved one has passed is to contact their doctor, if they died at home, as well as close family and friends, the funeral director (if known), and the executor/s of the will.
Locating your loved one’s personal documents is an important thing to check off soon after the death because they may or may not have left extensive instructions on what they wanted to happen in the event of their death.
These plans might include a pre-paid funeral plan, for example, but it’s also important to locate documents such as birth and marriage certificates, property deeds, life insurance or superannuation policies, bank account details and a will if one was made.
If a funeral director has been nominated by the deceased or arranged by the family, it is their role to officially register the death with the authorities and apply for a death certificate. This will generally need to be completed within 14 days of the death.
If the person had a will, the executor of the will is generally responsible for making funeral arrangements. If the person did not have a will, the responsibility falls to the next of kin, relatives or close friends.
Accounts with banks and utilities such as electricity and water, social security payments such as pensions, memberships of clubs and other organisations, direct debit payments, social media accounts and more need to be cancelled or closed.
Outstanding financial matters, including debts and liabilities, may require loved ones to consult the deceased’s financial adviser if they had one.
Settling the will
Where the deceased made a will, the role of the executor of the will is particularly important.
Among many other responsibilities, an executor has time limits to observe in executing the will, so that beneficiaries have a clear picture of what they might receive from the estate of the deceased.
In the situation where persons or organisations hold assets that are part of your loved one’s estate but will not release them, such as banks or retirement villages, for example, the executor applies to the Supreme Court for probate.
A grant of probate is the legal document that authorises the executor to manage the deceased’s estate according to the provisions of the will. It is the Court’s recognition that the will is legally valid and that you are the person authorised to deal with the estate.
Where your loved one’s will was valid and you are applying to administer its terms but are not the executor, you will have to apply for a grant of letters of administration of the will.
In cases where a person failed to make a will, a loved one may need to apply for a grant of letters of administration on intestacy.
How Felicio Law Firm can help
The services of expert legal professionals with years of experience in wills and estates can make the process of sorting through the affairs of a recently deceased loved one a lot easier and stress-free.
Felicio Law Firm brings a compassionate and understanding approach to helping clients through a trying time when a loved one dies.
We can help you check off the necessary things to do at this difficult time and understand the most important priorities.
Call us Erina family lawyers today for an appointment.