Do You Know What To Do When Someone Dies?

It is surprising that even though the one thing so certain in life’s cycle is death, many people don’t know what to do when that inevitable event occurs.

Following is a short guide of what to do:


At the time of death:

Call 911, your local Coroner’s Office or your hospice professional if your loved one is enrolled with hospice.

Call family members or friends and ask for help in notifying others.

Look through the decedent’s personal papers for burial information (e. funeral plan or written instructions).

Contact a funeral home to arrange the pick up of the decedent.

Check to see about pets.


Day One or Two:

Meet with the funeral home for further arrangements such as services, location, military involvement, club or organization involvement, the obituary, burial plots and headstones.

Order death certificates from the funeral home. A good rule of thumb on the number of Death Certificates to order is one each for every financial institution, vehicle, land, life insurance policy or other assets and then two extra.


1 – 10 Days after death:

Begin contacting the following individuals:

Police to check on the decedent’s home ‚ An attorney to obtain information on how to deal with the decedent’s assets and debts ‚ Financial and banking institutions to obtain information on accounts, investments and whether or not the decedent maintained a safe deposit box ‚ Insurance agents regarding claim forms ‚ Veterans Affairs and pension agencies regarding stop payments and possible benefits (the funeral home will contact the Social Security Administration for you) ‚ Utility companies to change or stop services ‚ Newspaper(s) and magazines to stop services ‚ Post Office to forward mail

Look for Documents:

Funeral/Burial plan ‚ Will – an heir can request a bank to conduct a Will search in a safe deposit box. If a Will is found, the bank official must keep the Will and deposit it with the Court ‚ Life insurance policies ‚ Financial statements from banks, stock brokerage firms and financial advisors ‚ Deed(s) and titles to vehicles ‚ Bills (such as credit card statements, loans, etc.)


 Editor’s Note:   This article was submitted by Jolene L. Devries, Elder Law Attorney.   She can be reached at 719-275-4424