The nine most important steps after a death





When a loved one dies, one does not at first think about the necessary bureaucratic formalities. Nevertheless, it is precisely the next relatives of a deceased who have numerous legal obligations immediately after his death.

Survivors therefore have to deal with financial and insurance issues as soon as they die and arrange a good deal from the funeral to the estate. But what exactly needs to be done right away and what else has time? What obligations has the law imposed on the survivors? What do you have to consider as a relative after a death and which steps must not be forgotten in any case?

Despite shock, pain and grief, survivors have to organize and observe a lot after a death. The most important are the organization of the funeral, various administrative procedures, the information of insurance companies and the termination of various contracts.

  1. Inform the doctor
    The very first formality after a death is the notification of a doctor, who must examine the deceased, determine the time of death and cause of death and issue important documents (coroner’s certificate, death certificate). If the relative dies in the hospital or nursing home, the institution takes that first step. However, if the death occurs at home, the relatives must inform the family doctor. If the family doctor can not be reached, you can also call the emergency medical service.
  2. Identify important documents
    Immediately after death as a relative, you should also select all relevant documents and documents. After the death, different documents are needed at different times. Since some of them are needed immediately after death, it is advisable to pick out all the documents to have them ready later. These documents include the death certificate, the organ donor card, decrees of the deceased (wishes for burial, pension contract, wills, etc.), his identity card, birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce decree, death certificate of the spouse and the insurance documents (insurance card, insurance policies)..
  3. Ordering Undertakers
    Family members not only have the right but also the duty to look after the body of the deceased. This includes the choice of a funeral home, the decision on the nature and location of the funeral and the choice of final resting place. The obligation to ensure that the deceased is properly buried within the legal deadline is called funeral duty. This obligation applies to the next living family members, from spouse to children, parents and siblings to grandparents and grandchildren. The burial duty has regulated the legislature regardless of the succession, so it does not matter whether one was considered in the will or not.

    Therefore, one must next inform a funeral home, which then votes all further steps with the relatives. Depending on whether or not the deceased has already concluded a retirement plan with a designated funeral home, either this funeral home will be informed or any selected funeral home will be commissioned.

  4. Informing Insurance, Employers, and Relatives
    Next, insurances, employers, and other relatives must be notified of the death. Most insurance contracts have very short deadlines, so relatives must check immediately after death what insurance policies exist and need to be informed. If the death is reported too late, it can happen that the insurance claim is lost and the insurance company denies the payment of the sum insured. For example, life insurance (LV) and death benefit insurance need to be informed immediately because they reserve the right to have the cause of death checked. In the case of an accidental death, the accident insurance usually has to be informed within 48 hours.

    But there are also insurances that you do not have to inform immediately after the death, but where you have a few days time. So the deceased must be deregistered later from the health insurance (KV) and long-term care insurance. You usually have to return your insurance card. Other insurance ends automatically at the time of death. This includes z. B. the liability insurance. But here, too, it is advisable to inform the insurance companies as soon as possible, as many insurance companies reimburse the contributions from the time they learn of the death.

    The employer of the deceased and the employer must also be informed. In the death of close relatives (parents, siblings, children, etc.) many employees are entitled to a few days special leave.

  5. Dismissing
    nursing home room If the relative lived in a nursing home before his death, you have to vacate your room within a few days. How much time you have as a relative, results from the contract with the nursing home and can be discussed with the nursing home management. Basically, however, that the home contract ends with the date of death. However, the individual home contract may include time limits for the storage of personal belongings or for the eviction of the room. Therefore, if a care case dies, his or her relatives must check until when they have to vacate their room in the nursing home.
  6. Applying for
    a death certificate The death certificate is a very important document in the case of a death, which is required in various places (banks, authorities, etc.). Therefore one should let the death certificate produce several copies (about 5-10). The death certificate is applied for at the civil registry office in whose district the relatives died. In order to apply for the death certificate, one needs some documents such as the ID card of the deceased, his birth certificate, the death certificate and depending on the marital status the marriage certificate, the divorce decree or the death certificate of the already deceased spouse. Also for the application of the death certificate has little time, since the notification of the death must be made at the registry office within three days.
  7. Estate and heritage
    Questions about estate and heritage must also be clarified. There is a legal obligation to deliver the will of a deceased person to the Probate Court without delay. If you do not give the will to the probate court, but keep it, you make yourself punishable. This is a case of instrumental suppression for which you can receive a prison term of up to five years or a fine. By inheritance, one can become unworthy by misappropriation of the will and thus lose his inheritance. So if you find a will of the deceased, you must submit it to the probate court as soon as possible. The probate court then sets a date for the opening of the will and informs the heirs.

    As heir, you also have to apply for a certificate of inheritance from the probate court and inform the tax office about the inheritance within three months. The certificate of inheritance is an official proof that you are the rightful heir. It is needed, for example, to access the deceased’s accounts. The certificate of inheritance can also be applied for if no will is found. In this case, the statutory succession occurs automatically. In terms of tax law, the heirs not only have to pay inheritance tax under certain circumstances, but may also make an income tax return for single persons for the period up to the day of death. Therefore, heirs should collect all evidence of expenses and tax returns of previous years.

  8. Cancel and change
    contracts Many contracts do not automatically end with the death, but must be terminated separately. Relatives must therefore obtain an overview of which contracts the deceased has completed and terminate them. These include z. As the lease, mobile contracts, telephone contracts, Internet contracts, club memberships and subscribed newspapers. If relatives want to stay in the flat, the contracts for energy, water and telephone do not have to be canceled, but have to be re-registered accordingly in their name.
  9. Applying for a survivor’s pension
    When the spouse, father or mother dies, you not only lose your loved one, you also lose your financial support. For certain survivors (spouse, children) the pension insurance partially recoups these financial losses with the survivor’s pension. The term “survivor’s pension” summarizes all pensions of death, in which the death of a person as insured event triggers the obligation to pay the insurance. However, all these pensions are not automatically paid, but must be applied for from the pension insurance. Therefore, z. For example, widowed spouses apply for a widow’s pension or children on orphan’s pension after death.

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