What to Do when Death Occurs
When a death occurs in your family, you will be faced with important tasks and decision-making during a very difficult time. You may not know what to do or when to begin making arrangements. Bearing the responsibility can be overwhelming. Remember that you are not alone. We are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to assist you with the details and offer our guidance. We have compiled the following list to help guide you through the steps you will need to take when a death has occurred. Your funeral director will help coordinate all of the details when you meet for an arrangement conference.
- After a death has occurred, please call to notify us. The following are some questions that we may ask when you call:
- Full name of the deceased?
- Location of the deceased (Hospital, Nursing Facility or Residence)?
- Your name, address and telephone number?
- The name, address and phone number of the next-of-kin?
- Is there a pre-arranged funeral plan? (If yes, what is the plan name or number?)
We will then set an appointment time for you to come to the funeral home to complete the details of the funeral arrangement. We will ask you to bring in some items and information that will be necessary to complete the arrangement. These items will include:
- Clothing for the deceased
- Social security number of the deceased
- The deceased's birth date and city and state of birth
- The deceased's parents names, including mother's maiden name
- Information about the deceased's education
- Marital status of the deceased
- Veteran's discharge papers or Claim Number
- A recent photograph of the deceased
- Pre-arrangement paperwork (if applicable)
- Cemetery lot information (if applicable)
- Contact your clergy. Decide on a time and place for the funeral or memorial service (the services may be held at the funeral home).
- The funeral home will assist you in determining the number of copies of the death certificates that you will need and will order them for you.
- Make a list of family, friends and business colleagues, and notify each by phone. You may wish to use a "branching" system: make a few phone calls to other relatives or friends and ask each of them to make a phone call or two to specific people
- Decide on an appropriate charity to which gifts may be made (church, hospice, library, organization, school).
- Gather obituary information, including a photo, age, place of birth, cause of death, occupation, college degrees, memberships held, military service, outstanding work and a list of survivors in the immediate family. Include the time and place of the funeral services. The funeral home will usually write the obituary and submit it to the newspaper(s).
- Arrange for family members and/or close friends to take turns answering the door or phone. Keeping a careful record of visitors and flower deliveries will make it easier to thank people later on
- If Social Security checks are deposited automatically, notify the bank of the death.
- Coordinate the food supply in your home for the next several days.
- Delegate special needs of the household, such as cleaning, food preparation, etc., to friends and family who offer their help.
- Arrange for child care, if necessary.
- Arrange hospitality for visiting relatives and friends.
- Select pallbearers and notify the funeral home. (People with heart or back difficulties may be named honorary pallbearers).
- Plan for the distribution of flowers after the funeral (to a church, hospital or rest home).
- Prepare a list of distant friends and relatives to be notified by letter and/or printed notice.
- Prepare a list of people to receive acknowledgments of flowers, calls, etc. Send appropriate acknowledgments, which may be a written note, printed acknowledgments, or both. Include "thank yous" to those who have given their time, as well
- Notify insurance companies of the death.
- Locate the will and notify the lawyer and executor.
- Carefully check all life and casualty insurance and death benefits, including Social Security, credit union, trade union, fraternal, and military. Check on possible income for survivors from these sources.
- Check promptly on all debts and installment payments, including credit cards. Some may carry insurance clauses that will cancel them. If there is to be a delay in meeting payments, consult with creditors and ask for more time before the payments are due.
- If the deceased was living alone, notify the utility companies and landlord and tell the post office where to send the mail.
- Your Funeral Director will prepare the necessary Social Security forms.