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Estate Planning

Essential Estate Administration Steps When You’re Responsible for Saying Farewell

By June 19, 2013No Comments
Trees and Lake Michigan Waves

My Father’s Window

Some of my readers may know that I recently lost my father. As an estate planner, yes, I made sure a number of items were in order. However, as a daughter to a fiercely independent and private individual, I was compelled to respect certain boundaries.

Another good colleague and fellow author, Lisa Lilly, who also lost her father, recently reminded me in her blog that it’s never too early to share important knowledge. So below are several tips on the very beginning activities of “estate administration.”

And while I intended to write this article before my father made his transition and  a little later in the year when the sky was less blue and Lake Michigan waters were much cooler, there really is no time like the present…

Much of this can be applied irrespective of your relationship but for precision, this article makes the following assumptions:

  • “The conversation” took place and there were no unresolved issues; consequently, there’s no family feud.
  • Your loved one had a primary care physician, nurse, or hospice caregiver.
  • You will be the one to say the final farewell.

The Steps

  1. Make sure you have a couple of very close family members or friends on call for “that day,” so you will have support around you.
  2. Phone the doctor or the hospice; DO NOT phone 911 or the police.
  3. Prepare to spend a few hours waiting for the doctor or nurse to arrive to make the final pronouncement.
  4. While waiting, do what you feel you need to do. DO NOT listen to directions from other friends and family unless you want to.
  5. Be prepared to answer lots of questions about: your relationship to the departed; who found the departed, when, and how; what funeral home should be notified, even if cremation or anatomical donation are the instructions; your complete contact information. And don’t take it personally.
  6. Be prepared to have your loved one physically removed from you permanently; this is why it’s good to have someone else with you, the emotional effect on you cannot be predicted.
  7. Be prepared to emote or manifest emotion somehow.
  8. DO NOT access any financial accounts; your loved one wouldn’t want you arrested for fraud.
  9. Contact everyone who knew the dearly departed, including church, community, and social groups. Get a couple of family members or close friends to help.
  10. Depending on the global reach of your loved one and his or her final wishes, start to think about a memorial service date that is soon or later, to allow for friends and family to make reasonable travel arrangements.
  11. Visit the funeral home asap to order several death certificates. You don’t have to start on the arrangements then. DO NOT BE PRESSURED into making decisions like date and time until you’re ready.
  12. Make sure you have all keys to everything – the house, apartment, car, safe deposit box, storage, and anything else. And LOCK UP.
  13. Complete address forwarding cards and forward the mail to you.
  14. If needed to pay for services, contact the insurance company. If not needed, then wait until the services are concluded to handle all financial matters.
  15. Write an obituary and send it to the appropriate publications: neighborhood or city newspaper and alumni magazines.
  16. Delegate. Delegate. Delegate.
  17. Carve out time for yourself.

Move forward, genuinely, gently, one day at a time.



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