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First Steps

First steps - When A Death Occurs

Holding Hands

If a death has occurred and you need help; call us anytime, 24 hours a day – 7 days a week.

When someone dear to you passes it is an emotional and confusing time. If this is the first time you are responsible for handling the next steps, we hope the following points may help.

When death occurs at home or a place of business

When not under hospice care:

  • The police must be notified. They will arrive at the place of death, assess the situation, and place a call to the coroner/medical examiner. 
  • The coroner/medical examiner will take the body and determine whether further action is necessary. They must release the body before a funeral home can do anything. 

When person was under hospice care:

  • Contact the hospice representative if they were not present at death. They will be able to help next steps.

When a death occurs at a hospital/nursing home/hospice facility

  • The staff of a care facility such as a hospital or a nursing home will notify you and the necessary authorities, including the funeral home (if assigned) immediately after a death has occurred. 
  • When the funeral director arrives, he or she will ask a few questions about the deceased wishes and set up a time to make funeral arrangements.
  • If you are not present, a funeral director will contact you by telephone to discuss these arrangements.

When a death occurs at out of your home state

  • Only contact ONE funeral home – the funeral home where funeral arrangements will be made. If you contact more than one firm, you may incur extra costs.
  • The receiving funeral home will make all necessary arrangements to bring the decedent back to the city of choice

Informing a Funeral Director

Once things are cleared with the proper authorities, the next call you place should be to a licensed funeral director.

A funeral director will:

  • Transport the body
  • Obtain death certificates
  • Notify the deceased’s employer and insurance companies
  • Notify Social Security
  • Notify Veterans Service Agency
  • Use their experience to give estate and end-of-life advice
  • Help to arrange a funeral/memorial service
  • Relieve your stress and work out all the logistics in planning a funeral

 

Meeting with a Funeral Director

It’s best to meet with a funeral director within 24 hours of a death to begin making final arrangements for your loved one. Though this task may seem daunting, an experienced funeral home staff will strive to ensure everything goes as smoothly as possible.

Be prepared with decedent information required for a death certificate:

  • Full name and address
  • Marital status
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Birth date and city of birth
  • Highest level of education
  • Father’s name and Mother’s name (including last name at birth)
  • Full name of spouse (married or widowed)
  • Occupation and employer

 

Pertinent documents may be required for legal paperwork. Those documents include:

  • Account statements
  • Beneficiary designations
  • Life insurance policies
  • Real estate deeds
  • Vehicle deeds
  • Stock and bond certificates
  • Pre-nuptial agreements
  • Post-nuptial agreements
  • Loans and leases
  • Copies of bills (hydro, cable, phone etc.)
  • Last will
  • Tax returns
  • If veteran, military discharge documents (DD214)

 

Things to keep in mind for arranging funeral service(s). These include:

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