Law Office of
Michael J. Fleck, P.C.
-Illinois Legal Topics-
by Michael J. Fleck, Esq.
WARNING: THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. CONSULT YOUR ATTORNEY FOR INFORMATION CONCERNING YOUR PERSONAL SITUATION.
This is a series of discussions on legal issues in Illinois. Topics covered include Real Estate, Estate Planning and Administration (wills, trusts, probate and guardianship), Business Law, Employment and Civil Litigation.
by Michael J. Fleck, Esq.
INITIAL STEPS TO TAKE UPON THE DEATH OF A LOVED ONE
- Disposition of Remains – Organ donation, burial wishes, cremation (for or against), pre-arranged or pre-paid funeral plans
- Notifications to newspaper, professional or fraternal organizations, other interested parties
- Dealing with property that requires immediate attention, such as pets, livestock, crops, etc.
- Dealing with minor or adult disabled children or others under the care of the decedent
- Locate the original will (and other wills, if exist) and read it, including determining whether it appears to meet the requirements of a valid will
- Secure and protect real estate (including weather related issues such as freezing, flood)
- Protect chattel against losses
- Locate risk insurance policies – review and ascertain coverage and term (in case of need to renew or replace if void due to death or vacancy, etc.)
- Locate life insurance and related instruments and assess claims process – notify insurers
- Secure valuable personal property and determine if there is a risk of any property being taken by those who may have access to the premises (such as family members, personal staff, neighbors or friends who are not entitled to the property)
- If the decedent had a business or other employees, arrange to secure the business operations and if necessary, arrange for the termination of employment and payment of wages of personal staff no longer needed, if any
- Assess the need for immediate access to cash for those family members that need to continue to cover expenses
- Contact credit card companies and other financial institutions of the death
- If certain accounts (phone, gas, electric, etc.) are in the decedent’s name, take steps to transfer these accounts
- If the decedent was a veteran, contact the VA for any benefits
- Consider changing locks on property if it is possible that certain people should no longer have access to the property
- Secure valuable personal property (take inventory, take pictures and secure certain items) as these items tend to “go missing” during funerals and soon after if a friend or family member lays claim to the item.
- Contact your attorney, accountant (or tax preparer) and financial counselor for any other steps that may need to be taken.
- DO NOT agree to pay any bills of the decedent until you have obtained advice on whether the claim is valid, if it is owed by the decedent’s estate or another family member, and in what priority order it would need to be paid or settled.