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Estate planning tips: What to do immediately after someone dies

When someone close to you passes away, your head will be swimming with emotions -- especially if you are the one who discovers that he or she passed. You may be panicking because it's so difficult to face this kind of reality. However, it's important to focus and take care of several tasks.

Here's what you'll need to do immediately, on the first day of the death:

If your loved dies in a medical facility: If your loved one dies at a medical facility, a doctor will probably be close at hand who can pronounce that your loved one has passed.

If your loved one dies at a hospice center: If the death happens at a hospice center, a professional hospice nurse should be present. The nurse will declare the death and assist with tending to your loved one's remains.

If the death happens at home: If your loved one passes at home, call 911 and provide the emergency responders any do-not-resuscitate documentation if you have it. Without such a document, paramedics will probably try to resuscitate your loved one.

Make arrangements for your loved one's remains: When an autopsy is not necessary, a mortuary will take care of transportation and the company should advise you of costs over the telephone.

Notify appropriate individuals: It's important to notify certain entities, such as the county coroner, of the death of your loved one immediately.

Contact family and friends: Also notify your family and friends of the passing, and ask certain family and friends to help you in reaching out to others.

Take care of all pets and dependents: You'll need to help care for any pets and dependents of the deceased person to ensure that they have appropriate care.

Call the employer: Call the employer of the individual. Make sure that he or she knows of the death. Also, ask whether a life insurance policy existed that was provided by the company.

There are many other things you'll need to do if you're the primary contact or closest person to the deceased. Make sure you fully understand your responsibilities -- and what needs to be done regarding the organization of your loved one's estate under California estate law and probate law -- before you proceed.

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