Living with Loss: Do You Know What to Expect After the Funeral?
It takes time to adjust to the loss of a loved one. Once the funeral is over, you may feel as if you're left without any type of road map.
Just as your funeral provider and funeral director guide the planning and execution of your loved one’s funeral or memorial service, there are also tasks that will need your attention after the service. While some to-dos are more time-sensitive, others can wait until you feel emotionally and mentally prepared. Below is some helpful guidance as to what to expect after the funeral.
Locate the will and begin the estate settlement process.
One of the most time-sensitive tasks is to determine the designated executor of the deceased’s will or trust and file the original documents with the local probate office as soon as possible. Settling an estate can take anywhere from a few months to several years. Use this time to give yourself a pause. Permit yourself to put off making potentially emotionally-charged decisions right now. It is perfectly fine to wait until the estate is settled to distribute your loved one’s property.
Notify necessary institutions.
It’s important to notify the Social Security Administration and any other applicable government agencies in a timely manner to end or begin receiving benefits. A surviving spouse or children may qualify to receive a one-time $255 death benefit from the Social Security Administration. Additionally, survivor benefits may be available for spouses and ex-spouses who were married to the deceased for ten years or more. Contact his or her employer’s human resources department to determine how and when any final paychecks and benefits will be distributed. If your loved one served in the U.S. military, you may be entitled to some of the deceased’s benefits. Contact Veterans affairs and be sure to have your loved one’s VA or service number and dates of active duty on hand.
Protect your departed loved one from identity theft.
Start by contacting relevant credit card companies to inform them of your family member’s passing. To further reduce the chance of identity theft and other forms of financial fraud, contact the three major credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax) so they can add a ‘deceased’ flag to the account.
Unpaid bills will also need to be dealt with over time.
Collect any mail that is addressed to the departed. Track all of the account numbers and be sure to notify the companies that he or she passed away. You'll also want to contact and cancel any memberships and subscriptions. If your spouse passed and you are worried about how to handle their unpaid bills, note that in some states surviving spouses are not responsible for paying off the other’s debts. Know your rights. Become familiar with your state’s laws or better yet, consult with an estate attorney.
Be gentle with yourself.
Finally, a ‘task’ that is vital to your wellbeing is to practice self-care. Drink plenty of water, eat properly, and rest when you can. Try to get outside for walks and keep in touch with others, even if it’s just a periodic call or Zoom chat with a trusted family member or friend. If you require additional support, look into local grief support groups at your church or community center. Others who know what you're going through can help you adjust to life after the funeral. It will take time, so allow yourself to heal at your own pace.
We hope this information is helpful as you travel your grief journey. If you have additional administrative questions, we are always here for you. Please contact our caring team anytime.
About Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services: As a leading African American-owned and operated funeral and cremation organization, Batchelor Brothers Funeral Services has provided a ministry of care to thousands of grieving families. We promise to provide our highest level of distinguished service and respect to families who entrust us to honor their loved ones. In all aspects of the funeral process, we strive to be the absolute best and are honored to help preserve our clients’ legacies for future generations. With two convenient locations serving North and West Philadelphia, it is always our pleasure to be of service. Please visit our website for more information.