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Survivor's Checklist After Death

A Checklist of Responsibilities for Survivors After a Death


Updated July 07, 2014

After the death of a loved one, you may find yourself overwhelmed with the tasks that need to be done. There are several things that need to be done and grief makes it difficult to focus on priorities and take action. Here is a simple checklist for survivor's to help you prioritize and keep track of what needs to be done after the death of a loved one.

At the time of death, make the right call.

For deaths that occur at home, it's important to know who to call. If your loved one is a hospice patient, call the hospice agency to report the death. A hospice nurse will come to the home and pronounce the death. The nurse may also call a mortuary for you and arrange for pick up of the body.

If your loved one is not a hospice patient, then you must call Emergency Services to notify the local police or sheriff of the death. A coroner or medical examiner may be required at the scene if the death was sudden.

Contact the funeral home.

Whether a hospice nurse makes the call or you call yourself, a funeral home must be contacted to arrange for pick-up of the deceased's body. If funeral arrangements have already been made all you will need to do is confirm the arrangements with the Funeral Director. If no funeral arrangement have been made in advance, you will need to begin planning a funeral.

Review funeral plans or begin making them.

Determine if your loved one had made any arrangements for a memorial service. If they haven't made any advance arrangements, begin to plan the memorial service. You may want to call on relatives or close friends to assist in making the arrangements.

For tips on planning a funeral, see "How to Plan a Funeral".

Contact attorney, accountant, and executor of estate.

Contact employer (if any).

Ask about any outstanding compensation due. Find out whether dependents (if any) are still eligible for benefits and whether there is a life insurance policy through the company.

Contact Social Security

Contact Social Security and any other agency that may be making monthly payments to the deceased. The Social Security phone number is 800-772-1213. Find out if survivors are entitled to any further benefits.

Contact the Veterans Administration

The Veterans Administration (VA) may offer benefits for funeral or burial costs. Stop any monthly payments that the VA might be paying the deceased.

Contact life insurance companies and file a claim.

Notify credit card companies and pay off any balances.

Discontinue utilities (if applicable).

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