What to do after the loss of a loved one

What you may need to do in the next few hours

  1. Notify family and friends
  2. Get a police report number (if any) 
  3. Find the location of your loved one (do not go to the Coroner's office)
  4. Find the location of your loved one's personal effects
  5. Contact a funeral home

In addition, you may want to contact the following entities about your family member’s death:

  • Employer
  • Banks and financial institutions
  • Church, Parish, Temple, and/or other organizations with a religious affiliation to your loved one

Other Important Details

  • Obtain death certificates—these are available from the funeral home. They are often necessary for insurance and many other legal purposes. A minimum of six certified copies is often suggested.
  • Contact Social Security—secure death benefits.
  • Contact the bank—especially if there are joint accounts.
  • Check current bills—utilities, phone, loans, credit cards, etc.
  • Locate titles of ownership—auto, property, etc.
  • Check employee benefits—notify employer of the death to secure any available death benefits.
  • Gather insurance policies—remember to check credit cards and loans for credit life policies.
  • You may want to contact an attorney—settling an estate can be a complex affair, especially if there is no will.
  • Civil Service—government employees may be eligible for benefits.
  • Check memberships—some groups offer group life insurance.
  • Automobile insurance—if the death is the result of an automobile crash, it may be possible to file a claim for incurred medical fees, vehicle damage or other benefits.
  • Veterans’ benefits—Contact the Harris County Veterans Service Office (281-876-6600)

A Word of Caution

Secure Your Home

It is common for friends and neighbors to ask what they can do for you in a time of need. Perhaps asking someone to “house sit” or keep an eye on your property during the hours of the funeral ceremonies would be a good suggestion. 

Beware of Fraud

Every year survivors become vulnerable to those who prey on the suffering of others. The most vulnerable are individuals who are not accustomed to handling their own financial affairs. 

Some people will search the obituary pages of newspapers to find unsuspecting targets.  Some fraud schemes involve someone promising to deliver a product or service. Others offer to inspect your home and invent a problem needing immediate and costly repair. 

A good rule of thumb is to never do business with anyone before checking his or her reputation with the local Better Business Bureau.