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What to do When a Love One Dies



First, we offer our condolences. Someone close to you has died. We understand that this may have been sudden and tragic or the peaceful ending of a long journey. We appreciate the range of emotions that you may beexperiencing.  The goal of Sterling Law is to guide you through the legal process of probate, but you first may have many other responsibilities to wrap up the personal business affairs of your decedent as well, in addition to arranging a funeral.

Gather documents:
  • Death certificate (order multiple copies)

  • Social Security card

  • Marriage certificate

  • Birth certificate

  • Birth certificates for any children

  • Insurance policies

  • Deeds and titles to property

  • Automobile title and registration papers

  • Stock certificates

  • Financial account numbers

  • Honorable discharge papers for a veteran and/or VA claim number

  • Recent income tax returns

  • Loan and installment payment books, account numbers, and  contracts


Other immediate things to do:
  • Secure property. Lock the home and vehicle. Park the vehicle in a secure and legal area. If the home will be vacant, notify the police, landlord, or property manager.

  • Pets.  Have someone care for pets until a permanent arrangement is made.

  • Notify the post office. Use the forward mail option.

  • Notify local Social Security office.

  • Inform Health Insurance Providers and/or Medicare.

  • Explore employment benefits. If the deceased was working, contact the employer for information about pension plan, credit unions and union death benefits.

  • Notify life insurance companies.

  • Terminate other insurance policies.

  • Identify ongoing bills to be paid.

  • Contact financial advisers, stockbrokers, etc.

  • Notify mortgage companies and banks.

  • Close credit card accounts.

  • Notify credit reporting agencies.

  • Cancel driver's license.

  • Cancel email and website accounts.

  • Cancel memberships in organizations.

  • Notify the election board.


Contact Sterling Law to open a case with the Probate Court. You will need for the Probate Court to appoint a Personal Representative to handle some of the above and certainly the following responsibilities. 

These are the responsibilities of the Personal Representative regarding the administration of an estate:
  • Identify heirs and interested parties.

  • Gather the assets and prepare the probate inventory.

  • Obtain an EIN from the IRS.

  • Open and maintain the estate checking account.

  • Prudently manage all estate assets.

  • Arrange for appraisals of real estate and high value items.

  • Prepare an Accounting.

  • Prepare income tax returns and pay the taxes due.

  • Disburse the remaining estate.

  • Certify to the probate court that the estate is ready to close.

  • Pay the Federal Estate Tax and Michigan Estate Tax.


The lawyers of Sterling Law can assist you with a probate case.  When you call Sterling Law at 231-486-0559 about probate, you can expect a short phone intake process.  Your information will then be forwarded to one of our probate attorneys for review and follow up with you.

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Sterling Law Office areas of practice include specialization in advocacy and divorce tailored for men. Sterling Law Office has a strong and successful history of representing both women and men in all areas of family law, including divorce.

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