After the Death of a Loved One


1. Contact funeral director. Consider time, place and type of funeral or memorial service, facilities needed, and type of disposition. If embalming is desired, give permission. Determine alternative if embalming is not desired.

2. Notify family members, close friends, employer and or business colleagues. (Friends or relatives may help with this task.)

3. Decide if you desire memorial contributions to a charitable organizations. If so, which one(s) and who should the donations be sent to (address of organization).

4. Take with you to the mortuary for the arrangement conference: clothing you wish used, Social Security number, Veterans Claim Number and discharge papers. Consider obituary information you wish in the newspaper: occupation, educational degrees, memberships, military service, outstanding achievements, hobbies, other items members of the community would recognize, and a list of survivors. (Funeral Director should help with obituary information and insertion into local and distant newspapers.)

5. Consider household needs — childcare, food, accommodations for relatives, transportation etc.

6. Locate important papers: Life and or disability insurance polices, business agreements, bankbooks, notes receivable and payable, security certificates, real-estate deeds, wills, recent copies of income tax returns, W-2 forms, marriage certificate, birth certificate, military discharge papers, automobile registration, installment payment books, credit life agreements on charge cards. Do not discard any official document.

7. Keep record of gifts (flowers, food donations) and telephones calls, so acknowledgments may be sent.

8. Consider the need for Certified Copies of the Death Certificate. Your Funeral Director can help you obtain copies. (Usually one copy for each insurance company, titles that need changing (auto, home, etc.), items that have or show legal ownership.

9. Notify insurance companies.  Consider settlement options. Determine need to change beneficiary on remaining polices. If there is no local agent, the Funeral Director can assist you in filing for benefits.

10. Contact Social Security Office. Apply for death benefit and monthly survivors benefits (if eligible). Bring: Social Security numbers of family members, W-2 forms of previous year, marriage certificate, birth certificates of survivors. The death certificate is usually not necessary but may be required. Apply within a week following the death as it often takes 3-4 weeks or more to process the claims. Payments begin with the month of application.

13. Consider need for trust officer to invest and manage monies.

14. If deceased lived alone, notify utilities and post office. Consider security for home.

15. If there was a will, have it probated in the District Court.

16. Consider the size and complexity of the estate to determine if you need professional assistance to handle the affairs (i.e.: accountant, attorney).