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What To Do When a Loved One Dies

woman with hand on man's shoulder

Losing a loved one is overwhelming, and it isn't easy to know where to start. This list can help guide you through the steps you need to take.

Notify important parties immediately

  • Close family members and friends
    Be sure to make arrangements to care for any dependents and pets if necessary.
  • Funeral home
    Discuss arrangements and obtain a list of information needed to complete the death certificate.
  • Minister, rabbi, or other religious cleric

Secure property

  • Locate and secure any keys and vehicles
  • Locate banking statements from all financial institutions
  • Change the locks on the residence
  • Secure valuables
  • Dispose of all perishables in home and vehicles
  • Change address through the United States Postal Service

Locate important documents

  • Will
  • Death certificate
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Death certificate for pre-deceased spouse
  • Divorce decree
  • Burial contracts or prearrangements
  • Military or Veterans’ Affairs (VA) documents (for example, Military Discharge DD-214)
  • Life insurance policies
  • Ownership records for real and personal property (for example, certificate of title, deed, etc.)

Helpful tip

Funeral homes often provide copies of the death certificate. If your loved one was a resident of North Carolina, contact the Register of Deeds in the county where they passed away, or the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Office of Vital Records in Raleigh if more copies are needed.

If your loved one was not a resident of North Carolina, contact the Office of Vital Records in the decedent’s state of residence.

Important phone calls

Contact the following parties to notify them of the passing of your loved one(s).

Income & benefits


  • Decedent’s employer to discuss unpaid wages and other benefits
  • North Carolina and other state retirement system
  • Social Security Administration
  • Department of Veteran’s Affairs
  • Life insurance companies

Service providers

  • Utility companies
  • Internet and cable provider
  • Subscription services


  • Clerk of Superior Court


  • Executor named in the Last Will and Testament or the estate planning attorney who will help settle your loved one’s estate, if applicable
  • Agent under decedent’s Power of Attorney (POA becomes void at death)
  • Credit union and other financial institutions
  • Credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion
  • Department of Motor Vehicles to cancel the decedent’s driver’s license
  • Registrar of Voters
  • Any religious, fraternal, and civic organizations of which your loved one was a member