Legal Matters of Bereavement

The loss of a loved one is one of the most stressful and heartbreaking things that can happen to an individual. When someone close has passed away, a lot of people deal with the situation by shutting themselves away, often doing nothing for days due to the sadness and shock. Whilst this may be a completely common and natural reaction, there are many legal matters that may require urgent attention.

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Register the Death Certificate

When a loved one passes away, a death certificate must be registered with the Office of Vital Statistics or Office of Vital Records, as it is known in some states. An official document registering the time, place and cause of the death, a death certificate is a legal requirement that is often needed for claiming life insurance, accessing pension benefits or arranging a funeral. As well as this, it is important that a death certificate is obtained and registered, as government investigators may need to review the information if foul play is suspected in the cause of death.

Inform Businesses

There will be many businesses and corporations that need informing if your significant other or another close family member has passed away. Your significant other’s bank should be informed ASAP so that the account can be closed, and, in the case of a joint account, ownership can be transferred to solely you. As well as this, any utility companies that you use should be informed of the death, as if there are any bills that are addressed to your partner, the company needs to be aware that responsibility needs to be transferred to you or the contract needs to be canceled if you can no longer afford it. Informing business and companies as soon as you can will not only help to protect you financially, but it also removes some stress from the grieving process.

Hire a Lawyer

A lawyer may need to be consulted if you know or fear that the death of your loved one was a wrongful death. A wrongful death is a death that occurs due to negligence or intentional misconduct on account of another party, such as car crashes, hit and runs, medical malpractice or defective products. A wrongful death claim will allow you to file a lawsuit against the people legally responsible for the death of your loved one. Claiming on account of wrongful death can not only benefit you financially due to compensation but can also grant you closure as you know that the party responsible for taking your loved one away from you has been punished in some way. This can help to start the healing process, as it can help you to feel as though justice has been served and remove some of the stress of bereavement. 

Bereavement is a very difficult period in your life. It is best to wait until you have recovered from the initial shock of the death before pushing yourself to do complete any legal requirements, however, they do need to be completed as soon as possible.

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