My Spouse Just Died – Now What?

Posted on February 7, 2018

by Daniel J. Eccher, Esq.

The period immediately following the loss of a loved one can be overwhelming emotionally. The most important thing to figure out immediately is how to carry out your loved one’s wishes as to organ donation. Next, get in touch with family and close friends – the people you don’t want hearing about it from an obituary or the media, the folks you turn to when you need support. Then, you need to make arrangements for the body. Did he or she want to be buried or cremated? If the latter, what did he or she want done with the ashes?

If you don’t know what funeral home to use, you may want to ask friends and family for advice.

The next step is planning for the ceremony (if any). Did he or she want a religious or secular ceremony, or perhaps just a “Celebration of Life” party? If he or she was a veteran, the VA web site has lots of information about options: https://www.cem.va.gov/funeraldirector.asp

Once the ceremony is arranged, you’ll want to let people know when and where it is. Usually people announce it in a formal obituary. If you don’t feel up for that, you can ask another family member or close friend for help. Alternatively, you can just use a simple announcement.

After the funeral, you’ll want to start thinking about the legal effects of the event. You’ll need more than one copy of the death certificate (I would recommend getting at least three). Next, you’ll need to inform the Social Security Administration, insurance companies, and banks. Then, you should consider contacting an experienced probate attorney. If you don’t already have a relationship with one, we would be happy to consult with you.

For a list of things that we will need, check out Ms. Wagley’s blog post on the topic here:

https://leveyandwagley.com/probating-an-estate/how-to-probate-an-estate-in-maine

For a more thorough checklist of what to do after the death of a loved one, follow this link:

https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-06-2012/when-loved-one-dies-checklist.html

Do you want to make some of this process easier for your loved ones before you die? Check out our page on estate planning: https://leveyandwagley.com/estate-planning-and-probate

Daniel Eccher

Attorney Daniel J. Eccher enjoys helping clients figure out how to afford long-term care while having something left for their family. He also enjoys helping couples establish estate plans such that their children will be provided something upon the couple’s death. Dan has a particular interest in estate planning for same-sex couples. He has been in legal practice in Maine since 2014. view Daniel's full bio