Secure key documents and valuables

Immediately After a Death

After a death, it's important to locate important documents that belonged to the deceased because they may provide guidance for end-of-life wishes and help settle their Estate.

Make sure these documents are secure, as well as the deceased's valuables, which may have been left in the immediate vicinity, or stored near where the death took place.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant Securing these key documents and valuables is an important step to prevent fraud and theft, so make sure to find them as soon as possible.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information on a deceased person's assets and settling their estate, see the "Settle the estate" section of the Guide.

Helpful Tips


  • Last Will and Testament
  • Burial instructions
  • Insurance policies
  • Bank account and broker account information
  • Instructions for home or pet care
  • Social Security card
  • Driver's License
  • Birth Certificate
  • Passport
  • Employment IDs

  • Jewelry
  • Money / credit cards
  • Property and vehicle(s)
  • Home / vehicle keys
  • Cellphone / computers
  • Storage units

Personal Considerations


Was the deceased born in the United States?


Proceed according to the instructions described in this section of the Guide.


It's best to speak with an immigration attorney to ensure additional documents are secured.

If the deceased was a non-citizen working with Homeland Security or the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in any capacity, whether they were undocumented or in the process of applying for citizenship, government authorities will need to be notified of the death.

Citizenship status will not affect end-of-life services (burial, cremation, etc.); non-citizens are often buried in the United States, including those who passed while traveling here.

However, if the deceased's final disposition is to take place in their home country, contact that country's U.S. consulate to help facilitate transportation of the body.

AutumnIcons_Providers.svgProviders An Immigration Attorney may help navigate the complexities managing the death of a non-citizen. Find providers near you at the links below.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information on transporting a deceased person's final remains internationally, see the "Review needs for transporting the deceased's body" section of the Guide.


If the deceased was born in the United States:

Proceed according to the instructions described in this section of the Guide.

If the deceased was not born in the United States:

It's best to speak with an immigration attorney to ensure additional documents are secured.

If the deceased was a non-citizen working with Homeland Security or the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in any capacity, whether they were undocumented or in the process of applying for citizenship, government authorities will need to be notified of the death.

Citizenship status will not affect end-of-life services (burial, cremation, etc.); non-citizens are often buried in the United States, including those who passed while traveling here.

However, if the deceased's final disposition is to take place in their home country, contact that country's U.S. consulate to help facilitate transportation of the body.

AutumnIcons_Providers.svgProviders An Immigration Attorney may help navigate the complexities managing the death of a non-citizen. Find providers near you at the links below.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More For more information on transporting a deceased person's final remains internationally, see the "Review needs for transporting the deceased's body" section of the Guide.

Providers to Contact


Probate Attorneys Near You

If any valuables were stolen or removed from the deceased's home, speak with a Probate Attorney. They can respond on behalf of the estate if any valuables are missing.

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Immigration Attorneys Near You

If the deceased was a non-U.S. citizen, certain government agencies will need to be notified. Immigration Attorneys help non-citizens and their families comply with immigration requirements regardless if they were required to attend check-ins, or were in the process of obtaining citizenship.

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Immediately After a Death