What Things Must I Do After the Funeral?

after the funeral

Sending Death Notices

What organizations need to be notified when a loved one dies?
Depending upon your particular circumstances, the following notifications should be made when someone dies. Copies of the Death Certificate may be needed for some of these.

  • Employers — to make them aware of the death and determine if any death benefits are available.
  • Attorney — to commence estate or probate proceedings.
  • Insurance companies — to apply for benefits, change, or stop coverage. Also, policy beneficiaries may need to be changed.
  • Social Security Administration — to apply for survivor benefits.
  • Veteran’s Administration — to apply for benefits.
  • Pension plans or retirement funds — to apply for benefits
  • Workman’s compensation if the death was job-related.
  • Unions and fraternal organizations — to apply for benefits
  • Banks and other financial institutions — to change or re-establish accounts. Be aware that, once the institution has been notified of the death, some accounts and lockboxes may not be accessible to you without approval of the Probate Court.
  • Stock brokerage firm — to change ownership of jointly or solely owned stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.
  • Mortgage companies and other lenders — to change or re-establish accounts.
  • Credit card companies — to change or re-establish joint accounts.
  • Department of Motor Vehicles — to change the title to cars and other vehicles. Do the same for watercraft with the appropriate agency.
  • Religious, social, civic, fraternal, alumni, and other organizations — to make them aware of the death so they can make the roster change and notify members.
  • Utility, telephone, cable, newspaper, and other services — to change accounts from the deceased’s name.
  • Accountant/tax preparer — to provide the information they’ll need to file the tax returns.

Death Certificates

A death certificate is issued by local authorities when a person dies. It serves as evidence that someone has died and is needed for various purposes, including claiming life insurance benefits, closing bank and investment accounts, transferring titles, and claiming social security survivor benefits. Generally, your funeral home will request copies of Death Certificates for you.

A certificate of death should be on file in the governing locality where the death occurred. Death records are kept permanently on file either in a State vital statistics office or a city/county office. The Federal Government does not maintain death records.

You may be able to obtain copies of the death certificate by visiting the local office where the death occurred, such as the County Recorder’s Office or Local Health Department. Your other option is to apply to the State’s Vital Records office. To find the State office for Vital Records, go to the Centers for Disease Control website at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/howto/w2w/w2welcom.htm for contact information and application requirements for each State.

You will need the following information when applying for a copy of a Death Certificate:

  1. Full name of the deceased person whose record is being requested.
  2. Sex of the deceased.
  3. Parents’ names, including mother’s maiden name.
  4. Month, day, and year of birth.
  5. Month, day, and year of death.
  6. Place of birth or death (city, county, state; and hospital name if known.
  7. Reason for requesting copies of the Death Certificate.
  8. Applicant’s relationship to the deceased.

A small fee is charged for copies of Death Certificates. Sometimes you can get copies quickly by paying an expedite fee.

Claiming Death Benefits

What types of death benefits are available to help cover funeral costs?

Financial assistance may be available from Social Security, the Veteran’s Administration, retirement plans, and other organizations such as unions and fraternal organizations. In some cases, the deceased’s family members may be eligible for a lump-sum death payment from Social Security. In most states, some public aid assistance is available from the state, county, or city. Funeral Directors can help gather the information needed to apply for the applicable death benefits.

What death benefits are available to veterans?

Veterans’ benefits are available to U.S. Armed Forces members who die on active duty. They are also available to those who were separated from active duty, not dishonorably discharged, and completed the required period of service. Spouses and dependent children of eligible living and deceased veterans and armed forces members may also be eligible.

Veteran’s Benefits include:

  • Free burial grave in a national cemetery plus opening/closing the grave and perpetual care
  • Free headstones and markers
  • Burial flag
  • Free grave liner for casketed remains
  • Presidential Memorial Certificate
  • Lump-sum payment up to $300 to families of eligible retiree veterans and up to $1,500 for veterans who die of a service-related disability.

For additional information, call the Veterans’ Affairs office at 800-827-1000 or log on to their website at www.va.gov.

What death benefits are available from Social Security?
To be eligible for Social Security benefits, the deceased worker must have credit for work covered by Social Security, ranging from one and one half to ten years depending on the age at death.

Monthly benefits are available for:

  • A widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled), or at any age if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled.
  • A divorced widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled) if the marriage lasted ten years, or if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled.
  • Unmarried children under age 18 and age 19 if they are attending a primary or secondary school full time.
  • Children who were disabled before reaching 22, as long as they remained disabled.
  • Dependent parent or parents 62 or older.

Lump-Sum Death Payment

A one-time payment of $255 is paid in addition to the monthly cash benefits described above. The lump-sum death payment is paid in the following priority order:

    1. A surviving spouse who lived in the same household as the deceased person at the time of death.
    2. A surviving spouse is eligible for social security benefits on the deceased’s earnings record for the month of death.
    3. Children eligible for benefits for the month of death when there is no surviving spouse.

An application must be filed to receive benefits. You may apply at any Social Security office or, if you wish, you may apply by telephone. Just call 1-800-772-1213. More information is available by logging on to the Social Security Administration website at www.ssa.gov.

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