There are several immediate decisions that must be made when a loved one dies, in addition to details that must be attended to. For starters, family and friends must be notified and funeral arrangements must be made. These initial actions, when coupled with losing a close family member or friend, can be overwhelming. Important legal and financial decisions should not be made until you have had time to comfort your family during this difficult time and otherwise handle the initial arrangements.
Usually the surviving spouse or children of the decedent pays for any funeral, burial or cremation services. If this is not possible, the funeral home often will accept payment after the decedent’s estate is opened. Under Tennessee law, assuming the estate is solvent, any party who fronts the payments for funeral and related expenses may seek reimbursement from the estate.
In the immediate days and weeks following a death it is not uncommon for family or friends to pressure the surviving spouse or children of the decedent to let them have certain items of value. Often family members such as children may even attempt to take certain personal items of value without permission or take the decedent’s financial records for “safekeeping.” No gifts or transfers of the decedent’s personal property, regardless of their size, should be made until the proper legal procedures are taken. Until then, the main job is to maintain and preserve the decedent’s property as it was at the time of the decedent’s death.