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Who to Call First
Whether you received a 2 a.m. phone call with news of an unexpected death or shared your loved one's final moments of a long illness, your initial reaction to the death was likely a shock. It doesn't seem to matter how prepared we are — or aren't — a loved one's death often leaves us feeling numb and bewildered. If you're responsible for making the funeral arrangements or executing the will, shock and grief can be immobilizing. Even simple decisions can be overwhelming.
Making the first phone calls
What to do first depends on the circumstances of the death. When someone dies in a hospital, a retirement or nursing care facility or under the care of a Hospice Organization; the staff will usually take care of some of the immediate notifications, such as contacting the funeral home you have chosen. You will need to notify family, friends and clergy. It may be easier on you to make a few phone calls to other relatives or friends and ask each of them to make a phone call or two to specific people, so the burden of spreading the news isn't all on you. If you are alone, ask someone to keep you company while you make these calls and try to cope with the first hours after the death.
Call a funeral director
Whatever the circumstances of death, one of your first calls should be to a licensed funeral director. We are here to help you:
Transport your loved one
Obtain a death certificate
Select a casket, urn and/or grave marker
Arrange the funeral, memorial and/or burial service
Prepare the obituary
Help you notify the deceased's employer, attorney, insurance company and banks
Offer grief support or direct you to other resources
Gather life insurance information
Look through the deceased's paperwork for the life insurance policy. You may choose to call the agent or the company and ask how to file a claim or we will be glad to do the work for you. Usually the beneficiary (or the beneficiary's guardian, if a minor) must sign the claim forms and related paperwork but we are more than willing to complete the forms and have them ready for you to sign. A death certificate and a claimant's statement will need to be submitted to establish proof of claim. Remember to ask about payment options. You may have a choice between assigning a portion of the policy proceeds to pay for the services directly to the funeral home, receiving a lump sum or the having the insurance company place the money in an interest-bearing account from which you can write checks.
Notify the employer
If your loved one was working, you'll need to call his or her employer immediately. Ask about the deceased's benefits and any pay due, including vacation or sick time, disability income, etc. Ask if you or other dependents are still eligible for benefit coverage through the company. Ask whether there is a life insurance policy through the employer, who the beneficiary is and how to file a claim.
For more information on what's involved with funeral planning click here or contact us.