Advice from a caregiver about things to do following a loved one’s death

On an online Lewy Body Dementia caregiver support group, I saw this post by a caregiver who lost her mom in early March 2012.  The post is about the things she learned following her mother’s passing.  Find the lessons that apply to your family!



I also lost my mom this month, too, and I agree that the aftermath is
nasty, no matter how much planning has been done.

Here’s what I learned:

– Do not close bank accounts until all bills are paid, probate is
complete (if there is something to probate) and any money owed to her
(estate) has been received. This also helps with keeping records of where
her money has gone.

– Get many copies of the death certificate. Every time you get a check
that is made out to the estate of, there will be forms to fill out and
notarize and a certified death certificate to accompany that form. And, at
least in Minnesota, you have to hold onto the checks for 30 days before you
can even turn the form in. It would have been a lot simpler if I had kept
her bank account open.

– In Minnesota, you only have to go through Probate if there are assets
of over $50,000. For anything less, you can do an informal probate. And,
if it is just a matter of things like insurance refunds, even informal
probate isn’t necessary – just the notarized form and the death

– You have to notify EVERYONE. The county generally has the
information, but it is wise to confirm that they know if something like
Medicaid is involved. If VA benefits are involved, you have to be sure to
inform them AND be aware that they may require that you return the last
benefit check or amount. Credit cards need to be closed (if you haven’t
already). I’m sure there are others I haven’t encountered yet.

– Have a prepaid funeral account for at least $10,000. Between the
service, cremation or burial or both, funeral director, church and other
costs (lunch, musicians, pastors, printing) this is a minimum. If, as the
passing is approaching, you are concerned that you don’t have enough in the
account, add to it right away.

– Be sure you understand all the rules of the cemetery. They have all
sorts of rules about what the marker can look like, how large it can be,
how it should be set, etc. And, even if they have a rule, if you need
something that is outside of their regulations, ask for it. You may need
to go through a process, but you are often successful.

– And a suggestion. If you have a number of siblings, let each take
responsibility (and power) over parts of the funeral. And accept how they
decide to handle it. It’s important to their grieving process and your

– And, when mistakes or other bad things happen, try to take them in stride.
Taking things too much to heart and getting upset by them doesn’t help
anyone and leads to ulcers. The mistakes or downright awful things that
happen are someday going to be the things you remember – maybe even fondly
or with humor – years from now.

– Oh, and even if it is modest, you are entitled to an executor’s fee.
Originally, I thought I should be doing all of this out of love. Nope.
The love angle hasn’t changed, but the days away from work (beyond
bereavement pay), the gas, the other things I can’t take care of because of
what I need to handle for this “estate,” call for some kind of
compensation. Not only will I take a small executor’s fee before turning
the reconciliation over to Medicaid, but as I revise my will this year, I
will be sure that something is set aside for the person who has to handle
all this nasty business.