Checklist: What to do after death of a Parent or loved one?

With a death in the family, survivors may have to come to grips with the stark reality: how to move forward after the death. While the grieving process can take time, one also must address several documentation, paperwork and other formalities. Here are a few things that you will have to follow up on:

To Do Immediately After Someone Dies

  • Inform loved ones, family and friends
  • Arrange for a funeral - depending on your custom and current regulations and wishes of the deceased, you will have to plan for the final rites
  • Plan for after death ceremonies - this will depend on your customs (e.g After death ceremonies – Brahmin Iyer)
  • Apply for a death certificate. This is the most important legal step and may be a two-step process
    • The hospital, crematorium or burial ground officials may issue a letter/document with the name of deceased and cause of death. 
    • The letter/document needs to be submitted to the local municipal/corporation office that will ‘record’ the death and issue an ‘official’ death certificate. Many cities in India and around the world have gone digital. You should be able to apply for an official death certificate online on the city-government’s website. 
The ‘official’ or certified death certificate is the most important document required for all legalities that will follow 

To follow up within a few weeks (or months) after death 

  • If the person was a government pensioner, you should get a checklist from the concerned government department (e.g Army's veteran's action to be taken by the Spouse / Nok on demise). That should guide you on the process for the dependent family to claim required funds and benefits.
  • The company/government agency checklist may also have details of the other bereavement benefits that the family may be eligible for. 
  • If the deceased was drawing pension from a nationalized bank, you should go to the bank with the Death certificate. They will be able to guide you on the process of stopping the pension or modifying it for family benefit. 
  • Bank officials will also be able to verify the nominee details on the accounts held and release the funds to the nominees/legal heirs. The bank may also close the account held in the name of deceased after transferring the assets.  
  • Liabilities, loans and credit cards – if the deceased had credit cards and other liabilities, try to close those accounts.  
  • Insurance claims – if the deceased had insurance policies, get a copy of those documents and contact your insurance agent or the helpline to follow the claims process. The Death certificate will be required to file such claims too. 
  • Review a Will (if any) – Some people, especially those with substantial assets or property may have documented a will. The will may also list out all the assets and property with details of account numbers, insurance details etc. This will be especially useful as you begin to track and take charge of assets. Make sure you review the will with the other survivors to avoid any potential disputes. 
    • If the deceased didn’t leave a formal will, try to gather all the documents and account details that may be stored at home or in a bank locker. Talk to other survivors (spouse, kids) to identify a list of assets and documents. 
    • If the deceased had a family lawyer, accountant or trusted ‘family friend’, try to meet with them to understand their financial situation and list out the assets and liabilities.
    • Family Tree - If the deceased leaves behind a spouse and several kids and other dependents, it may be prudent to apply for an official family tree. You may have to apply for this document at the local city council/corporation (example - Experience applying for  Family Tree at #BBMP
  • Securing property and assets – if the deceased had multiple immovable properties – like sites, flats etc, you should put together a plan to secure and manage those assets or eventually dispose them. 
  • Property and inheritance – 
    • If the deceased had other movable immovable property, you may need to follow the legal process to inherit and/or divide the property among survivors. 
    • The survivors may also have to agree on the division of property and assets. If the assets are substantial, it is wise to seek legal opinion on property division 


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