Grief is difficult, every situation is unique and complex. It is a catalyst for a different life and you are learning to adjust but probably will never get over with. You are in a stage of disbelief, confusion, crying, signing, sleeplessness, withdrawal from socially, absentmindedness, inability to maintain normal routines; all these responses are not unusual.

During a time of grief, there is so much to do. It is wise to get help from a grief counselor for your emotion needs, and financial advisor, estate attorney and CPA for your financial, estate, and taxes needs to navigate through this difficult process.

Below is a general guide regarding the documents you need to gather and the to-do list based on the timeline.

The common documents you need to gather are:

Certified Copies of Death Certificates (10 copies of each-with and without the cause of death)

Will and trust documents

Social security numbers (yours and the deceased’s)

Marriage certificate

Birth certificates of minor children

Divorce or child support documents

Military discharge papers

Insurance policies (from work and individual policies)

Real estate deeds, titles, and documentation

Retirement account statements (IRAs, 401ks), pension plans, stock option plans, annuities)

Nonretirement account statements (brokerage accounts, bank checking and saving accounts)

Health insurance policies

Household monthly expenses documents (utility and service bills)

Mortgage, car loan, and other loan statements

Debts, such as credit card account numbers and statements


The to-do checklist based on the timeline:  


Immediately After Death:

Handle all arrangements for funeral and final disposition

Contact relatives, friends and church members

Organize, prepare, delegate and send acknowledgment cards for flowers, memorial donations, food and spiritual remembrances

Notify financial advisor, estate attorney, and CPA, so they can help with the process.

Identify the designated estate administrator or executor according to the deceased’s will and trust documents.

Notify insurance company or life insurance agent if there are death benefit payouts

Inquire about any current or former employer burial and survivor benefits


Within 30 days:

Pay monthly expense bills (keep a records if the funds will be drawn from the decease’s estate later; pay special attention prior to paying any bills due to fraud)

Cancel deceased’s driver’s license

Notify Social Security Administration of the death and get a benefit statement regarding surviving spouse and children (800.772.1213)

Estate attorney will send out the public notifications to the known and unknown debtors, pending loans and debts, (90 days)


Within 60 Days

Notify Bank to change ownership and tax ID if necessary (take note of FDIC Limitation –FDIC.GOV while consolidate your accounts)

Review who has authority to enter and make changes with regard to safe deposit boxes.

Retirement account distributions arrangements


Others depend on their specific timeline check list:

Mortgage and properties taxes payer change is based on the mortgage company

Deeds and ownership changes are based on the estate attorney and the court if there is a probate

Homeowner insurance and car insurance changes

Estate tax (9 months)

Trust assets depend on the trust instruction


Hope this list will give you a guide when you are going through grief; or you can use this list as an estate planning guide. It is not an easy task; it is wise to get help with grief counselor, financial advisor, estate attorney and CPA.