When someone you love dies, you will find yourself overwhelmed with friends and family, random advice, and casseroles. Eventually, you must throw them all out.
The professionals are little better. They may help you with a funeral, or probate, or grief, but they’re not going to clean up the house for you.
If ultimately you are on your own, where do you begin? Consider Sally Balch Hurme’s book, the ABA/AARP Checklist for Family Survivors: A Guide to Practical and Legal Matters When Someone You Love Dies (2014).
Each chapter presents a different checklist, from funeral to probate, with enough detail to be helpful but not overwhelming. If you’re not a checklist person, buy the book for the narrative explaining each step.
Confused by the IRA? Read chapter 6, Learn What’s Available in Investments. Can’t find the life insurance? See chapter 7, Check on Insurance Benefits, for tips on record searches for lost life insurance policies. Not sure how to split the personal property? Chapter 10, Sort through the Stuff and Papers, explains “Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate?” That chapter’s What to Keep and When to Shred checklist has great ideas about how long to keep certain records. The chapter closes with helpful advice regarding social media and even airline points.
Family Survivors, Chapter 3, has my favorite checklist, Assigned Tasks. If anyone is reckless enough to say to you, “Just let me know how I can help,” you can whip that out and confidently delegate anything from taking care of pets, to making funeral arrangements, to cleaning up the house. At about $20 from Amazon (less for a used one), you can afford to give volunteers their own copy.
There are no end of organizers, checklists, and books on the market advising how to prepare for or respond to a death. This one is pitch perfect, consistently striking the right balance between what the author knows and what family and friends actually need to know.