The Legal Process to Follow After Someone Dies

There is more to the legal process after someone dies than just making the funeral arrangements. Knowing when to start the legal processes, who to inform about the death, and deciding if you need to talk to a lawyer about dependent custody are all part of what to do after a loved one dies.

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Mohit Jain from Jain & Associates Law Firm is a notable lawyer having more than ten years of experience in the legal field. Being a notable advocate specializing in litigation including corporate, commercial and intellectual property laws, he has worked with a plethora of clients across the nation. His law firm represents in the Supreme Court, various high courts, and district courts with utmo...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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Losing a loved one can bring burdensome anxiety, grief, and stress. We know that we cannot change the circumstances once they occur nor erase the sad news. However, there are various ways to manage the loss and reduce unnecessary stress resulting from the loss.

While the burial process may seem to be a simple matter, it sometimes requires the intervention of a legal process after someone dies before laying the deceased to rest.

Legal action may be necessary for various reasons, including the settlement of any debts they owed and making decisions about their estates and investments.

However, some of those processes can and often do continue after the burial ceremony. Consulting a family lawyer can be instrumental in knowing exactly what to do next.

When you lose a loved one, it is easy to get confused about where to start and the appropriate steps to take. This article outlines the various steps to follow to ensure that everything runs smoothly according to the law to settle sooner and peacefully.

These are the legal processes that you should follow when you lose a family member, regardless of the circumstances. Use our free tool to find legal help now.

#1 – Decide When to Start the Processes

Not all legal matters following an individual’s death begin immediately. Some can wait for some time. It is essential to understand what kind of state the legal situation of the departed was in before you begin to seek legal advice. Some matters require you to address them immediately while others do not.

In case somebody comes to claim the remaining debt, you may have to settle them before you bury the deceased. The debts do not vanish just because a person dies.

The estates they own legally can and will be used against to settle the loans and debts they owed people or institutions. 

Depending on the initial agreement, there should have been collateral they surrendered to obtain the loan, and that would be used to clear any unpaid amount.

However, the assets may not be sold when settling debts. If the departed person had credit life insurance, the insurance company can pay off the debts, and if any amount is remaining in their payoff, they will release it to the family.

Knowing what kind of life insurance the deceased had is important in this case. Understanding the basics of life insurance means knowing the difference between credit life, whole life, and term life insurance, and what each of those policies actually cover.

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#2 – Find the Appropriate Legal Executor

When it comes to handling the burial process and allocations of estate and assets, the executor is responsible. You need to find the person outlined in the will to do so.

The deceased should have mentioned the person in their will. In most cases, the executor will direct all of the legal processes after a person dies.

In case the departed did not leave a will, the court will direct who will be responsible for the allocations of the estate and how they will be divided among the heirs. The person will most likely be the next of kin. 

However, the court can also take over and decide according to their best of knowledge. That is when the court cannot decide who was the next of kin before the person died.

When a person is alive, they may appoint the Enduring Power of Attorney to help them in managing their assets and legal matters. At the point of death, the EPA loses its position and has no legal authority to manage any finances or estates owned by the departed. 

Everything remains in the hands of the executor or the court.

#3 – Inform a Personal Injury Lawyer

Not all deaths will require this step. It will depend on the cause of death. When a person dies due to injury or accident, you may want to claim compensation.

However, you can only ascertain if you can do so by consulting wrongful death lawyers who have plenty of experience in these situations.

These lawyers will assess the scenario that led to the death and advise you accordingly if you qualify for a lawsuit. However, there is a time limit when you can raise a claim in court for the wrongful death of a loved one. It means that you need to take action immediately when the incident occurs.

With the help of a personal injury lawyer, you can sue the culprit of the injury that led to your loved one’s death.

#4 – Inform their Benefactors and the Banks

To protect the family’s financial status, you need to inform the banks and the pension payers about the departed. It will stop them from overpaying the deceased’s benefits.

A notification to their banks will help the banks to freeze their accounts. This step will protect the account against fraud. 

However, the accounts can continue receiving deposits from people who owed the deceased.

Once the bank accounts are frozen, the next of kin listed on the accounts can claim the account balances from various accounts the deceased held. However, this will require a legal process to consult what the will says about the bank balances.

In case the departed had a joint account with other people, there is nothing you can claim from the account. After a member of a joint account passes on, the other account holder remains with the account and has full control over the funds.

They owe nothing to any of the family members of the dead partner.

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#5 – Seek Custody of Dependents or Pets

Hosting someone’s kids without a legal permit may land you in trouble for kidnapping or child trafficking. In case the departed has young dependents and pets, you cannot take them as your children or inheritance.

Like finances, assets, and estates, the departed’s children and animals are protected by the law.

You need to obtain court directions to allow you to foster the children belonging to the person who has passed on.

While you can immediately provide for their basic needs after the loss of their parent or guardian, you will have to visit the Ministry of Social Affairs and register your interest to take the children in and raise them.

You should, however, remember that the children belong to the state until they are legally of age. You cannot mistreat children you are fostering. In everything you do, you should consider them as part of your family.

However, when they become of age, they are free to go and manage their parent’s estates.

Always Follow the Necessary Steps

There are many things you must do to make things right after a person dies. Ordinarily, you would think that burying the corpse is the end of the journey. However, the law has other ideas on the matter. 

Therefore, you should follow every legal process to help you address various issues surrounding the death of a loved one. In case you need assistance, find a lawyer to help with further directions on what steps must be taken.

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