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What to do when someone you love dies.
What to do when someone you love dies.
It’s hard to know what to do when someone dies. Having a checklist to follow for right after the death and the months to follow can be helpful.
When someone dies, the aftermath can be overwhelming for the person left in charge, and handling a death can seem very confusing and emotional. Regardless of whether a death is expected or unexpected, emotional struggles and feelings of disbelief can cloud thinking, making the task of planning a funeral difficult. If you have just experienced the death of a loved one, the staff at Hardy Funeral Home is ready to assist you in any way we can. A caring professional with helpful advice and answers to your questions is just a phone call away.
If you’re unclear about how to handle a death in the family, the list below details what you should do immediately and in the days and months following a death.
And remember, you probably don’t have to do this alone. Friends and family will most likely want to help. Delegating responsibilities to family members and others you trust not only eases your burden but also allows them to show you how much they care about you—and it may even help them begin to heal their own feelings of loss as well.
- Notify the authorities that a death has occurred. If you're not in a hospital or with hospice care at the time of the death, call 911 immediately so that the death can be legally pronounced. If your loved one is in a hospital or under hospice care, this task generally falls to the medical caretakers.
- Arrange for transportation of your loved one by calling Hardy Funeral Home. We will arrange transportation with no obligation to use our funeral services. Be aware of any arrangements that need to be made for autopsy or organ donation before a mortuary or crematorium takes your loved one into its care.
- Notify family and close friends of the death. You may wish to ask some of these people to inform others.
- Arrange for a caretaker for children, elderly parents and pets. (This is a good task to delegate to someone you trust.)
- Notify your loved one’s employer, if he or she was still working. Ask about remaining pay, life insurance, benefits or any other work-related details you may need to know.
- Locate the will and any pre-planned funeral arrangements.
- Select a funeral home, mortuary or funeral director to begin the process of planning a funeral, memorial service, cremation or celebration of life.
What to do before meeting with your funeral director
- Designate a main point of contact, or executor. This might be you or someone else, but whoever it is should also have a friend or family member who can be nearby and help with important decisions and more.
- Gather any documents specifying pre-planned or pre-paid funeral arrangements, and obtain the personal information you need for an obituary and death certificate.
- Contact any religious or military affiliations of your loved one to determine whether burial benefits or specific funeral plans and services are available. If your loved one was a veteran, please gather and provide all military documents especially your loved ones DD-214. Your funeral director can also inform you of these benefits or help you get the right information.
- Start an obituary. Your funeral director can help you write an obituary, or you may choose to write it yourself. Have at least one person proofread the obituary before it is submitted for publication.
What to do after the funeral
- Get multiple copies of the death certificate. The executor and funeral home director will need to contact the following agencies, most of which will request at least one copy of the death certificate:
- Social Security (800-772-1213; socialsecurity.gov) to discuss ceasing benefits, obtaining survivor benefits and Medicare. Veterans Affairs may also be necessary for the cessation of benefits (800-827-1000; va.gov).
- Health, life, homeowner, automobile and other insurance companies to cease or transfer benefits.
- Utility companies to change or stop services.
- Employer for pension plans or employment benefits; each separate claim will require a separate copy of the death certificate.
- Probate attorney for asset, trust and estate inventory.
- Tax preparer to determine if an estate tax return or final income tax returns should be filed.
- State department of motor vehicle services to cancel driver’s license.
- Bank for safe deposits and remaining accounts; you may be advised to open a new account for the estate.
- Deliver the will to the appropriate office for probate.
- Notify the post office of the death and the location to which mail should be forwarded. (Going through your loved one’s mail can help you become aware of bills, subscriptions or other accounts or services that should be canceled.)
- Notify the police if your loved one left behind a house that will sit vacant, so that they can periodically monitor the home against suspicious activity.