Dealing with a death is emotionally and physically demanding. Here’s a step-by-step checklist to help guide you through the challenges you may face after a death of a loved one. It can help ensure all of the necessary details are covered so you can plan the best service to honor your friend or family member.
At the Time of Death
Immediately after a death, contact the right people. At a hospital or hospice, speak to the staff and arrange a time for the funeral director to come. Depending on the facility, the staff may take care of this call. At home or otherwise not at a hospital or facility, call 911. Emergency authorities will take the process from there.
Once contact is made with the funeral home, the staff will have basic questions to help them receive the deceased. You may also be asked to set an appointment to plan or finalize the rest of the arrangements, depending on any pre-planning already in place. Now’s the time to notify friends and family. Make any arrangements for dependents or pets, both for yourself and for any belonging to your loved one. Call their church and clergy and start talking to family and friends about plans for the service.
Write down any questions or concerns you may have for the funeral home so you can ask them when you sit down to make plans for the service.
Before you meet with the funeral director, find any paperwork related to the deceased’s funeral plans. This includes insurance policies, bank account information, a will, military papers and more. While you’re looking, find a photo to use in the obituary and funeral materials. Choose your loved one’s outfit and jewelry to bring with you as well.
At the meeting, you may be asked for some information about the deceased. This could include:
- Their full name, date of birth and place of birth.
- Social Security number.
- Their mother’s first and maiden name and their father’s full name.
- Their marital status and level of education.
- Their occupation or career.
- Their legal residence.
- If they’re a veteran, you should bring their discharge documents and armed forces serial number.
- If they wore glasses or dentures.
You should have an idea about how you want the service to go, including who you want to serve as pallbearers and in other parts of the services. Consider which officiants should serve and what music should be used. Your funeral director will help you coordinate your plans, including filing for the death certificate and handling death notices and obituaries as needed. Funeral directors can also help contact the deceased’s employer, insurance companies, membership associations and set up memorial funds.
In the days before the service, talk to the funeral director about what photos and mementos you should display at the service. Also take the time to call loved ones and friends of the deceased to personally notify them of the death.
On the Day of the Service
The day of the funeral service can be difficult, but lean on your funeral director. They will take care of all the arrangements on the day, including arranging displays of photos or mementos, putting out service programs, greeting guests and managing the order of service. Use this time to grieve and remember your loved one.
Within 10 Days of Death
Get the death certificates from the funeral home first. You’ll need them for many of the next steps. Then, take the deceased’s will to the appropriate offices in your city or county for probate. The estate’s executor should open a bank account for the deceased’s estate. More people you should contact include:
- A trust and estate attorney if you need to transfer assets and to assist with probate issues.
- The bank to manage or close accounts and retrieve safe deposit boxes.
- The mortgage company, if there is one. Property deeds held by a bank need to be transferred to the name of the inheritor. If the home will be vacant for a while, ask the local police to check on the property regularly.
- Call a tax preparer or accountant to find out which returns need to be filed. Also get in touch with an investment adviser for information on how to handle any holdings the deceased had.
- The medical insurance company and life insurance to verify policies and claims.
- Call government offices, such as Social Security and Veterans Affairs to stop any benefits the deceased received and ask about any survivors’ benefits that may be applicable. Also look for pension benefits that need to be changed.
- Call credit card companies and cancel accounts. Then call the three credit reporting services to report the account holders as deceased.
- Get in touch with the local Department of Motor Vehicles to cancel their drivers’ license. Any inheritors should arrange for title and registration of any vehicles to them.
Bevis Funeral Home is here to support you during this time. To discuss preplanning services and taking some of the pressure off your friends and family, schedule an appointment with one of Bevis’ funeral directors today. You can also check out our list of grief support resources or call Bevis at 850-386-3579.