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What should I do first upon my loved one's death?

While you may already be doing this, you should take care of important family matters such as planning the funeral, visitation, obituary, family communications and more. This is always the most important priority.

You may also be dealing with the funeral home. At this time you will want them to help you obtain original death certificates for your loved one. We typically tell families to get four original short form death certificates and four original long form certificates. The short form death certificates do not have the cause of death – the long form death certificates are generally used with life insurance policies. If the assets are very simple or the estate very small, you may not need this many death certificates.

It generally takes about 10 days to get the death certificates from the funeral home. Typically, the original death certificate is necessary to get legal and financial matters started.

After you have the funeral and have obtained the death certificates, you can start with the financial aspects such as claiming life insurance policies, annuities, trust settlement and probate, when necessary.  

If you want to learn more about probate, what probate is, and other legal aspects, you may want to download a free copy of Navigating the Florida Probate Process, our book written by attorney D. "Rep" DeLoach, III.

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