Steps to Take After a Loved-One Passes

The death of a loved one is difficult time.  Emotions flow and it can be hard to keep track of the many arrangements that need to be made in a relatively short amount of time.  From funeral decisions to final tax returns, here’s an overview of the process:

Please note: Some items will differ depending on whether the estate plan was a will, trust or nonexistent.  Even so, the general post-death administration process will be very similar.

Immediately Post-Death

  1. Make funeral arrangements
  2. Write and publish an obituary
  3. Find the important paperwork: original will/trust and any codicils or amendments, deeds, titles, life insurance policies, stock certificates, account statements, etc.
  4. Contact the deceased’s professional advisors: attorney, financial advisor, trustee, etc.
  5. File the original will (and codicils, if any) with the probate court
  6. Collect unpaid bills and update mailing address/contact person for future bills


Shortly After (0-9 months)

  1. Shortly After (0-9 months)
  2. Make a list of all assets and debts
  3. Notify the heirs, beneficiaries and creditors
  4. Claim any income owed to the deceased
  5. Potentially liquidate accounts and/or sell assets
  6. Pay off any debts the deceased owed
  7. Have an accountant file the estate tax returns
  8. Prepare an accounting of all assets and debts to file with the court


Final Tasks (9 months+)

  1. Fund any sub-trusts created by the original will or trust
  2. Obtain tax id information from each beneficiary
  3. Distribute assets or shares to each beneficiary as specified in the document
  4. Have an accountant file the final income tax return
  5. Consider your own estate plan and whether you need to update it

As you can see, there is a lot to get done!  As trust officers, part of our job is settling estates and trusts.  If you have questions about the process or are looking for someone who can take care of the post-death administration process for you and your family, please feel welcome to contact a member of our Trust Team directly at (608) 826-3570 or by email at

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