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The event of an untimely death induces an extremely emotional time for the family and friends of the deceased. In addition to the fact that such events are emotionally challenging, untimely deaths make it hard for families to plan quickly to take all the steps of this difficult process.

That being said, to make the process easier for you to manage, in this article, we are going to go through the most important things that are to be handled following the event of an untimely death.


The first steps

If the death has occurred out of the premises of a hospital, the first thing that you need to do is to call 911 right away. After that, the medical team is going to guide you on the immediate steps that follow. 

Once you’re done talking with the medical team, you want to inform the deceased’s close family, friends, as well as their doctor. In case the deceased had any dependents, you should hurry and make arrangements so that they have a place to stay and people to care for them.


Look for any written instructions 

As soon as you have the time, you should try and find all of the deceased’s important papers and documents. The reason for this is the fact that many of the steps that follow heavily depend on the written instruction of the deceased. The professionals behind explain that there are quite a few different types of such documents: Revocable Living Trust, Irrevocable Trust, Last Wills, Joint or Mutual Wills, and many more. For the sake of the depth of the article, we’re only going to talk about the will and the trust.


The Will and the Trust

If you’re able to confirm that the deceased has indeed left a Will and/or a Trust, you need to notify the people of importance that the deceased was named personally. People that you should look for in the documents are the Personal Representative that is named in the Will, and in case the deceased has left the trust – the Trustee. Once you have found the Trustee and the Personal Representative, hand the documents over to them.

The Personal Representative is the person that is ultimately responsible for taking care of the deceased’s estate. This person is also the one that should see that the terms of the Will are followed through. On the other hand, the Trustee has similar obligations as they are responsible for following through with the wishes that the deceased indicated in the Trust. 


Funeral arrangements and organ donation

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Make sure that you try and look for any possible written instructions for burial or cremation arrangements. If you’re not able to find them, proceed to ask close friends, and even the deceased’s doctor or their lawyer, if they have any knowledge on the topic. In some cases, people even arrange services like this in advance, so you should also look for any prepaid services. In case you are the one that has been named “Designated Agent,” you are the one that should arrange a funeral or memorial services, as well as the burial or cremation. 

When it comes to organ donation, you should look for records regarding this topic. You should be able to find such information in the deceased’s “Final Instructions”. If you have found that the deceased is indeed an organ donor, make sure that you give this information to the deceased’s doctor immediately.


Regarding bills and bank accounts

When it comes to unpaid bills, you need to give them to the Personal Representative. That way, the Personal Representative can pay them and make sure that further bills don’t arrive. When it comes to accessing bank accounts, there are a couple of things that you need to know. 

If you are a co-signer of the account or if you have a joint account with the deceased, you should be able to utilize the money that exists on the account. That way, you can utilize the money from the account to pay the bills that we have discussed. If the deceased didn’t have a joint account or any co-signers, you are going to be able to access the deceased’s bank account only after a court process approves a Personal Representative.


Notifying relevant institutions

You must notify every relevant agency and company of death as soon as you can. The most important ones that you should notify are the following – social security, insurance companies, deceased’s employer, banks and other financial institutions, and similar. The events that follow an untimely death are in no way easy for the people left behind, but as far as the legal process goes – you can handle this. 

When it comes to the emotional part goes – mourning is different and personal for everyone. Allow yourself to take time to process. It can be hard, but it will get better! Ultimately, it is essential that you reach out to people when things get difficult. Your loved ones are there for you, and getting professional help is always a good idea as well. Stay safe!