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Horizon Elder Law & Estate Planning Blog

Saturday, October 29, 2016

‘Your loved ones changed lives,’ families are told at ceremony for fallen firefighters

What do you need to do when a loved one dies?

Hundreds of firefighters, families and friends gathered to honor 29 fallen firefighters at the 14th annual California Firefighters Memorial Ceremony in Sacramento on October 15th.  The ceremony was centered around the California Firefighters Memorial, dedicated in 1995 to honor firefighters who have died in the line of duty since 1850.  The names of the fallen are engraved into a limestone wall flanked by two bronze statues crafted by retired firefighter Jesus Romo.

Honoring Our Fallen Heroes

Among the guest speakers was Gov. Jerry Brown and Lou Paulson, president of the California Professional Firefighters.  Paulson reminded family and friends that their “loved ones went out every day and changed lives.”  Each survivor was presented with an American flag by a member of the department in which the fallen firefighter had served. At the conclusion of the ceremony, a brass bell was rung nine times, symbolizing the “last alarm” ritual, while a flock of white doves was released.

When Your Loved One Dies

When a loved one dies, it can be a bewildering time, especially if the death was unexpected. Many decisions need to be made in a short period of time.  The most important thing you can do is take care of yourself first. There are no immediate legal deadlines that you need to attend to. When you are ready, here is short list if things to do when a loved one dies:

  1. Obtain several copies of death certificates from the funeral home or county coroner’s office.
  2. If you have an attorney or estate executor, notify them.
  3. Contact life insurance agent.
  4. If your loved one was receiving Social Security payments, notify Social Security and ask about lump sum or monthly payments.
  5. Gather bills and consult with an estate attorney or financial advisor about whether to pay them at this time.
  6. Notify banks and credit card companies.
  7. Cancel subscriptions.
  8. Look into local grief support groups to learn more about the healing process.

California Estate Options

Estates can be handled either through probate or estate administration, depending on how property was dealt with during your loved ones loss. If you have time to plan ahead, an experienced estate planning attorney can advise you on placing property in a trust, so that your loved ones can avoid the public probate process.

Julie Fiedler is an experienced estate-planning attorney and registered nurse with over 30 years of experience with senior and end-of-life issues.  Call today at 925-224-1185 to schedule a consultation.


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