Death of a parent
First things first
The most immediate tasks when someone dies are to make the final arrangements and notify others of the death.
If your parent left specific funeral and burial instructions, with a list of people to be notified, your job is that much easier. If not, you'll need to consult with other family members and look for address books that can help you with your task.
Most people contact a funeral home for help with arrangements. If your parent was religious, call the pastor, priest, rabbi or other religious leader for guidance.
It's also traditional to put together an obituary to run in the local paper. This can be a challenge if your parent didn't leave behind some kind of summary of her life, but you can pick the brains of friends and relatives for help. The funeral director usually can help with this task, or you can call the newspaper and ask about its procedures for running obits.
Essential documents and offers of help
This is a good time to order several copies of the death certificate so that you have these essential documents on hand when you later apply for any life insurance benefits or financial accounts. Again, funeral directors typically can handle this task for you, or you can contact the health department in the county where your parent lived.
How many certificates you need depends on how complex your parent's finances were and what estate planning was done before death.
Taking care of business
Your parent probably was receiving income from somewhere -- an employer, a pension, the Social Security Administration, or perhaps all three. Legally, they need to be told of the death.
If your parent was employed or receiving a pension, you should notify the company's human-resources department within a few days of the death. This also will start the process of collecting any life insurance, accrued vacation pay or other benefits the employer may owe the family.
If your parent was receiving other government or health services, such as Medicaid or hospice care, these agencies should be notified as well.