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The Heritage Law Center, LLC Blog

Handling Your Parent’s Estate After They Die

POSTED ON: March 16, 2021

son handling parent's estate with attorney

Losing your parent is an incredibly emotional experience. Add to that the fact that you need to manage their estate, and you’re suddenly in a position that can feel overwhelming. We’ve created this article to give you some helpful guidance. There are steps you need to take in the weeks that follow your parent’s death to make sure their affairs are properly handled.

First Steps

  • As soon as your parent passes, you need to get a legal pronouncement of death.
    • If your parent passed away at a hospital or other healthcare facility, the staff will be able to handle this process.
    • If your parent died at home and was under hospice care, the attending nurse can usually provide the legal pronouncement of death. If the nurse can’t, contact your parent’s doctor. If there was no hospice care at the home, the recommendation is to dial 911.
  • You need to make sure that any dependents, pets, and property are well taken care of. Ask a loved one to keep an eye on your parent’s home, monitor phone messages, and collect mail.
  • You also need to make funeral and burial arrangements as well as notify loved ones, any employers, and any other important organizations or people that your parent has passed away. Note: Funeral directions might be in the letter of instruction, advance medical directive, or the Last Will and Testament.

Next Steps

  • Get several copies of the death certificate. You can request a copy from the clerk of the city or town where the death occurred. In order to notify interested parties of the death, such as banks or creditors, you’ll need certified copies of the death certificate.
  • Find your parent’s estate planning documents (i.e., will, trust, etc.). 
  • Call your parent’s employer and check to see if there are any benefits, insurance, pay, or other amounts that are still due to your parent.
  • Pull together documentation of your parent’s assets by contacting their financial team, including their lawyer, financial advisor, and bank(s) 
  • Start the claims process on any life insurance your parent had by calling their life insurance agent.
  • Notify Social Security (800-772-1213; and other agencies from which the deceased received benefits so that payments can be stopped. Also, ask about survivor benefits.

At this point, the estate will need to continue to be managed and ultimately settled. How this is done depends on whether your parent had a will, a trust, or no estate planning at all. 

Consider Using a Massachusetts Estate Administration Attorney

A lot of work will be needed to manage and settle your parent’s estate. Think about hiring a skilled Massachusetts estate administration lawyer to help guide you through the process. The attorney can answer your questions and work with you to go through the legal process of winding up your parent’s affairs in order to settle the estate.

Matthew Karr, Esq., an experienced estate administration attorney in Massachusetts, can provide you with the support and expert guidance to help you through this difficult time. Contact us today at 617.299.6976 or send an email to for your free, no-obligation consultation.