What Does an Adult Child Need to Do After a Parent Dies?

If you are an adult whose parent has passed on, in addition to grieving your loss, you likely find yourself wondering what comes next. You find yourself wondering what you need to do now that your parent has died. There are a number of different tasks that need to be tended to when a parent dies.

Transport of the Remains to a Funeral Home

Unless funeral and burial preplanning was undertaken during your parent’s life, the most immediate concern is to making funeral and burial arrangements. Directly after a parent dies, arrangements need to be made to transport the body to the designated funeral home. Again, if a preplanned funeral plan is in place, this task is simpler and amounts to calling the contracted funeral home.

In the absence of a prearranged plan, which is more likely, you will need to select a funeral home. Odds are you have relatives who have utilized a local funeral home, even if you have not. Thus, you may have a provider in mind.

A California funeral home is obligated to advise you of the specific cost for transporting the deceased’s remains to the funeral home. In most instances, a funeral home will be able to pick up and transport the remains to their facility promptly. Hospitals and hospices encourage a body to be transported within a matter of a few hours following death.

If there are questions regarding the cause of death, the county coroner may become involved in the process. If that is the case, the remains of your parent will be taken to the coroner’s office for a forensic examination, which may include an autopsy. The forensic examination process typically takes 24 to 48 hours in most California counties. Once that is completed, the coroner’s staff releases the body back to your family. You have 72 hours from that time to have the body transported to a funeral home.

Funeral and Burial Planning

You do not need to head to the funeral home the same day a parent dies if you don’t want to do so. In fact, many people need to take at least some time to adjust to the idea that their parent has passed on.

Within a day or two your parent passing on, you will want to have an initial planning meeting at the funeral home. During this session, basic decisions are made regarding preparations associated with your parent, the funeral itself and the final disposition of your parent’s remains.

Estate and Probate Issues

The other area in which you need to take action in the aftermath of your parent’s death is in regard to estate and probate matters. Matters pertaining to the estate and probate issues do not need to get underway immediately after a parent dies. However, there are some issues closely associated with matters of the estate that do need action.

Protect Your Parent’s Property

If your parent lived alone, you need to take immediate action to ensure that the residence is appropriately secure. You definitely want to have someone check on the house regularly. If your parent had a pet or pets, you need to make arrangements for care. If there is someone available to do so, you may even want to think about having someone stay in your parent’s home at least through the funeral and burial.

Make Sure You Have Available Cash

If you have access to your parent’s bank account, consider withdrawing some money to have cash on hand to deal with bills that may come about within the first few weeks following your parent’s death. When the bank receives notice of your parent’s death, the account will be frozen temporarily, even if you are a co-signer on the account.

Find and Secure Important Documents

Track down your parent’s will or any trust documents that may exist. Similarly, take custody of any life insurance policy or policies that your parents may have had in place. In addition, take custody of other important documents, including your parent’s Social Security card, driver’s license, bank account information, investment account information, and similar types of materials.

Begin the Probate Process

If your parent has a modest amount of assets, and there is nothing complicated about the will, California law permits the use of an expedited probate process. The California judicial system even provides access online to the documents you need to pursue a simpler probate case following your parent’s death.

If your parent’s estate is larger, or complicated, schedule an appointment with an estate and probate attorney as soon as possible. Keep in mind your parent may have worked with an estate attorney in the past. This lawyer is a good first choice in many instances when a family is in need of probate representation.