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What should I do FIRST if someone close to me has died?

It is important when a loved one passes away to immediately start collecting and preserving the information that will be necessary to handle the succession. This consists of information about the decedent such as:

• the date of death

• where decedent lived when he/she died

• whether a valid will was executed before death

• who the decedent’s heirs or legatees are

• what property and liabilities did the decedent leave behind

Start by collecting all of the decedent’s mail after death in order to obtain all of the bills and bank statements that are received. You should notify all banks and financial institutions that the person has passed away in order to protect against any unauthorized transactions being processed through the decedent’s accounts. Any unnecessary services such phone, mobile, cable and other unneeded services should be cancelled.

If the decedent owned a home, it is important to secure the home. This includes possibly changing the locks to the home if there is any risk that family members or others may try to access the home before the succession can be conducted.

If the decedent died “testate”, it is important to also secure the original Last Will and Testament. A copy of the will is not typically permitted to be probated as it is presumed that the decedent destroyed the original will and revoked it in the event the original cannot be found.

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