My Loved One Has Died – What Do I Do Now?

Losing a family member can be extremely overwhelming and the last thing on your mind is planning a funeral or contacting relatives and friends. Music City Estate Law has put together the following guidelines to allow you to move through this incredibly difficult time.

Give yourself time to process the situation.

It is okay to take time to process your grief in the immediate aftermath of a loved one passing away. If you are in a hospital, let the staff know you need time to be with your loved one, to perform any religious customs and/or to contact family and friends before the body is moved. 

The only exception to this rule is if your loved one was an organ donor in which case the hospital needs to be notified immediately so they can decide if your loved ones’ organs are medically fit for donation. If you are not sure if they are an organ donor, check their drivers license, if they have an organ donor card or with their healthcare provider.

Making arrangements for collection of the body

A funeral home typically picks up the body. If your loved one has not made a choice of funeral home, this can be made by family members. Medical, hospice or nursing home staff can help you make these arrangements if your loved one passed away there. 

Care for dependents

If your loved one has left behind dependence including children, spouses or pets sometimes care will have to be arranged. If there is no will or guardianship nomination, you may have to request that a court issue an emergency order to ensure that any children or dependent adults are properly cared for and protected.

Care of possessions

Your loved one may have left behind their home and car, so arrangements will have to be made to lock these up, and the police or a landlord may have to be notified if a home will be left vacant to prevent theft or vandalism. Having a friend, neighbour or family member maintain the home and clean it out may be a good option so it will not need a lot of repair when in use again.

Funeral arrangements 

Funeral arrangements can feel like a daunting process but often your loved one may have made pre-arrangements for their funeral, making this process easier. If not, ask a friend or family member to help you. Think about the style of funeral your loved one may want for example if they were in the military, you may need to plan a military funeral. The funeral home can help you with the preparation and planning of this. 


Once these concerns have been taken care of, it is time to begin the estate and/or trust settlement process also called probate or trust administration. It is important to contact an experienced probate and trust administration attorney to help you with the process, so you can avoid any further issues in this difficult time. At Music City Estate Law, we are happy to support you through this difficult time and ensure any legal matters that arise are in safe hands, leaving you time to be with your loved ones. We look forward to working with you.

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