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Handling Final Details After a Parent Passes Away in Assisted Living

Use this helpful guide to work through the important tasks you need to complete after a parent passes away in an assisted living community.

By Seniorly Editor · Updated Sep 28, 2021
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The loss of a parent is heartbreaking, and while your emotions are raw and overwhelming, there’s still a lot you have to do while you’re dealing with this loss. Many adult children are unprepared for how to handle the final details after a parent passes, and while it’s not something you want to dwell on, it’s important to know what to do. We’ve put together a guide to help you through this difficult process so you’re not left wondering what to do in this emotional time. 

Have your loved one’s body removed from the residence immediately 

Legally, most assisted living communities must have the body moved from their premises immediately. This means that once you’ve been notified of your parent’s passing, you need to contact a funeral home right away. A funeral director will be able to arrange the pickup and transportation of your loved one quickly to comply with the needs and wishes of the assisted living facility. 

If your parent is an organ donor, the local Organ Procurement Organization will need to be notified. Assisted living staff may be able to help you with this. Statistics show that one out of every three organ donors is over age 50, and it’s a selfless decision to give the gift of life to someone else.   

Ensure the process of completing the death certificate is started

As you work to settle the estate and wrap up your parent’s affairs, you’ll need to have multiple copies of the death certificate, so make sure the process of completing it gets started immediately. Staff members of the community should be able to help you through the proper steps of completing the death certificate, and the funeral home will help with the process as well. 

Determine whether you’ll be doing a burial or cremation 

You’ll need to decide fairly quickly whether you want to go with a burial or cremation. Did your parent have a preference? Your loved one may have made their funeral plans already. If so, stick with their wishes and work with the funeral home they chose. It’s also important to be aware of any pre-payments that were made to the funeral director so you aren’t double charged. 

Decide on the type of service you may want 

Do you want to have a service for your parent? Funeral services are generally held before the cremation or burial of the body while memorial services occur after the cremation or burial. Once again, you’ll want to consider your loved one’s preferences. No matter what type of service you have, you will need to choose a location. It can be in a church, synagogue, funeral home, or even your home. 

Collect your parent’s belongings from the assisted living community 

With services to plan and financial affairs to handle, it’s easy to forget about your parent’s belongings. It’s important to talk to the assisted living community to determine how long you have to collect all of their belongings. In many cases, facilities will prefer that you pick them up as quickly as possible so they can prepare the living area for a new resident. 

Deal with your parent’s debt 

If you are the executor of your parent’s will or you have been authorized as the representative of your parent’s estate by the probate court, you’ll be the one responsible for dealing with your parent’s debts. After you collect your parent’s assets, state laws will help you determine which types of debt have the most priority and you’ll want to pay those first. Your parent’s financial obligations may include a bill at their assisted living facility, which will need to be paid from their estate. If you’re unable to pay off all of your loved one’s debt, you will need to notify creditors that your parent has passed away and the estate is insolvent. 

Since financial matters can be so challenging, particularly when you’re handling them on behalf of someone else, it’s a good idea to consult with an accountant, certified financial planner, or attorney if you need assistance. Any of these professionals can offer you the guidance needed to deal with your parent’s financial affairs after they pass away. 

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Seniorly Editor

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