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Steps to take after a loved one passes away

The election coverage was missing an important commentator. Then news came at the beginning of this week, PBS NewsHour co-anchor Gwen Ifill had died from complications associated with cancer. Many learned the news through Facebook.

Lately, the news of a death spreads fastest through social media. A Facebook Messenger chat with family members may be used to share this type of news. This can lessen the burden to notify everyone via phone. What else do you need to deal with immediately after the death of a spouse or another loved one? When do you start the probate process?

Donor registry

The hospital will likely want to know whether your loved one was a donor. This can be difficult to think about, but often tissues and organs can go on to save the lives of others.

In Colorado, organ donation registration is completed through the Division of Motor Vehicle (DMV). The designation will appear on a driver’s license or state ID card. Hopefully, your loved one mentioned the decision. The hospital will ask for confirmation.

Organ donor wishes are carefully followed by medical professionals based on what was specified. This may mean that some but not all organs or tissues may be used.

Funeral plans

The donor designation may have been made through during a driver’s license renewal process, but without an estate plan or other documents you may have little guidance for a funeral or memorial service. Making funeral plans while grieving can be overwhelming.

Cremation with a later memorial service is becoming more common. Frequently, these are smaller and often only involve immediate family. More options exist to find an option that is right for your family.

After you work through these initial decisions, speaking with an estate administration attorney is one way to get answers about probate and how to wind up an estate.

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