Estates 101: The first few calls you make

When my mother died, my wife and I were out of the hospital maybe 10 minutes later.  The first phone call we made was to the funeral home.

Arranging for the remains. Funeral homes generally have a 24-hour answering service.  You say “hi, my name is blah, X just died at hospital Z, please notify the funeral director that we would like his funeral home to conduct the funeral.”  The director will contact the hospital and make the arrangements to receive your loved one’s remains.

Church and clergy. We then contacted leaders at my mom’s church to let them know, and to ask if the church would be available for a funeral that week and if so when.  We then took that availability to the funeral director when we sat down with him the next day.

In my mom’s case, her longtime pastor, whom she wanted to conduct the funeral, had moved across the country, so I called him that night as well to ask him if he could make it.

The community. With those arrangements in motion, we then proceeded to call friends and family, since it was Sunday evening and we couldn’t call many businesses to start the next step.

Identity protection.  The first phone calls we made Monday morning were to the retailers with whom she had credit cards, and to the credit bureaus, so that we could inform them she was dead and that they should put holds on her cards, to prevent identity theft.

Disclaimer: I AM NOT A LAWYER.  NONE OF WHAT I SAY HERE SHOULD BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE.  A LICENSED LAWYER SHOULD BE CONSULTED ON ALL LEGAL MATTERS PERTAINING TO ESTATES. The purpose of this article is to tell you some things I learned in the process of dealing with my mom’s estate, which you may want to think about in planning your own estate or dealing with a loved one’s estate.  Furthermore, details of some of these matters differ from state to state, so if you’re not in Pennsylvania, things may be different.  Consult your lawyer on all matters.