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How do you get a Death Certificate?
Your funeral director will help you through the process of completing and filing a death certificate. Have the following information about the deceased ready:
• Social Security number
• Address (including the county in which he/she lived)Date and place of birth
• Date and approximate time of death
• If the deceased was a veteran or worked in law enforcement
• Armed forces serial number (if applicable)
• Name and address of employer
• Name and address of family doctor, or the address of the medical examiner
• Name of informant or person giving the information for the death certificate
• Name of spouse
• Education information
• Father’s name
• Mother’s maiden name
• Birthplace of both parents
The certificate will become a permanent record with the Registrar of Vital Statistics in the city or town in which the death occurred. There will be a fee for this certificate. Also, for a nominal fee, the registrar will issue you certified copies of the original death certificate which you and your attorney will need for the settlement of various estate matters. You should obtain at least 10 copies.
What goes on an Obituary?
An obituary often contains the following information; this information should be located before meeting with your funeral director:
• Full legal name of the deceased
• Deceased’s city or town of residence
• List of deceased’s relatives including preceding relatives
• Deceased’s work history
• Place and time of calling h ours and funeral or memorial*
• Place of burial
• Deceased’s hobbies and interests
• Deceased’s memberships in local and national organizations and military service
In addition to collecting the above information, you should decide where you want the obituary published (which newspapers and/or websites).You may choose not to include all of the above information.
*If you wish the calling hours, funeral, memorial, and burial to be private instead of open to the public, do not include this information in the obituary.
How do I Prepare for the funeral service?
When planning a funeral, several details must be attended to; following is a list to consider:
• Choose music, poems, Bible verses, and/or readings.
• Choose special speakers and singers.
• Choose pallbearers.
• Choose photos you would like displayed.
• Decide if you would like family members and friends to donate to a charity or cause instead of sending flowers.
• Decide if the casket will be opened or closed.
This list is not comprehensive; consult your funeral director regarding additional details to consider.
Does the body have to be present at the Funeral?
If possible, the body should be present at the funeral. With the body present, mourning and the sharing of sorrow is more natural. Without the body, expression of sympathy may be difficult for many people.
Some people want to deny that a person has passed away. The presence of the body in the casket actualizes the fact of death and helps begin a healthy adjustment to the loss.
Should Children attend the funeral?
Children should be encouraged to attend funerals, but they should not be forced or made to feel guilty if they choose not to. Children need to experience closure in their relationship with the deceased just as adults do, but they mourn in their own way and often do not completely understand what is happening. If children attend the funeral, it is important to prepare them for what they will see and hear before, during and after the service.
Children should not be sheltered from the reality of death, nor should they be overwhelmed with unsolicited information. It is best to be sensitive to a child’s desire to communicate when he or she is ready, offering brief and simple, but honest answers. It is also important to avoid words such as “sleep;’ “rest” or “went away” when explaining death. These terms may lead the child to unnatural and unhealthy fears of sleep and temporary separation. For example, if Grandma is “resting” then the child may be afraid of going to sleep at night for fear of not waking up again. Similarly, if Grandma “went away” and has not come back, maybe Mom will not come back from the grocery store.
What do I do when a person passes away in another state?
A death occasionally occurs far away from the deceased’s home. In such a case, the home-town funeral director may be able to call upon the professional services of an associate at the place of death. He may direct that individual to prepare the deceased for transfer, file all required permits and authorizations, and make the necessary arrangements to have the deceased transported home. These additional services will reflect in the total funeral cost.
What are the legal aspects of death?
The earthly possessions (the “estate”) of the deceased must be distributed after his or her death. Any assets that are left must be used to pay off debts, and any balance left must be lawfully distributed after payment of estate or death taxes. If the deceased owned or operated a business, the business must be administered and maintained in an orderly manner or it must be liquidated.
In order to accomplish this process of distribution, legal proceedings are necessary to decide how property should be distributed and who is to be in charge of this distribution. Because of the technical nature of these proceedings and all the complications involved in settling the estate and distributing the assets, it is advisable that a lawyer be consulted.
Select a lawyer for legal guidance and professional advice based on past experience or based on a personal acquaintance. This individual should be selected for reasons of trust, confidence, respect and the ability to effectively settle an estate in a reasonable length of time. In the event that you do not have any previous experience with a lawyer, a friend or your funeral director may be able to recommend a competent attorney for you.
Questions about the Will
The following information must be located:
• Did the deceased leave a Will? If so:
• Where is it located?
• Who was named the Personal Representative (or “Executor of the Estate”)?
• The Personal Representative must take the will to the appropriate county or city office to have it accepted for probate.
• What are the provisions regarding the distribution of property?
If there is no Will:
• What is the state law regarding the distribution of property?
• How can proceedings be brought to appoint an Executor of the Estate?
• If a court is to appoint an Executor, who will it appoint?
How do I file an Insurance
The filing of an insurance claim is a fairly simple procedure. The following steps should be taken by the beneficiary of a deceased’s insurance policy:
If possible, contact the insurance company’s local office or agent in your area. If you are successful, they will handle the death claim for you.
CAUTION: Do not surrender the insurance policy without an authorized receipt. If there is not a company office or agent in the area, this claim may be processed by mail. Write a letter to the home office of the insurance company whose name appears on the face of the policy. State the name of the deceased, the date of death and the policy number of the insurance contract.
CAUTION: Do not send the policy to the company.
Enclose with the above letter one certified copy of the original death certificate.
Within a two or three week period the named beneficiary should receive the face value of the insurance policy. The next of kin of the deceased should check all other possibilities of insurance claims including unions, railroad retirement benefits, fraternal and other organizations the deceased be longed to that may offer a death benefit.
Because all banks are subject to state and federal statutes governing their operations, it is very difficult to satisfactorily define the banking rules and regulations in any one given area. General banking law also undergoes constant change which makes it impossible to pinpoint local procedure regarding an account or safety deposit box belonging to a deceased individual. It is recommended that the bank holding an account or safe deposit box of the deceased be contacted directly to find out the steps necessary for the release of their contents. Though not required, generally the service of an attorney is desirable to handle these matters.
What do i do about Social Security Benefits?
When a person who has worked under the Social Security law dies, a member of his or her family should contact the local Social Security office. If you cannot go to the Social Security office, write or telephone and a representative will assist you. If you are a spouse or a child who is already receiving benefits, you must still notify the Social Security office so you may receive survivor benefits. If you receive your own retirement or disability benefits, you must still apply for survivor benefits.
Do not delay in filing for benefits because some cannot be paid retroactively. Cash benefits to survivors are figured from the amount of retirement or disability benefit of the deceased. The more the de ceased paid into Social Security while living, the higher the benefits for survivors. Prior to contacting the Social Security office, locate as many of the following items as possible. Do not delay contacting the office if not all of the items are available.
• Proof of death (either the death certificate or documented proof from the funeral home)
• Your Social Security number
• Deceased’s Social Security number
• Surviving spouse’s Social Security number
• Your birth certificate
• Your marriage certificate if you are the widow or widower
• Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you were born outside the United States
• Your divorce papers if you are applying as a surviving divorced spouse
• Dependent children’s Social Security numbers and birth certificates, if available
• Deceased worker’s most recent W-2 forms or federal self-employment tax return
• Record of deceased’s earnings, if any, in year of death. Approximate wages for that year and name of employer.
• The name of your bank and account number so your benefits can be directly deposited into your account
• If the deceased was drawing Social Security, what was done with the last check?
The above “Social Security Benefits” information and more can be found at www.socialsecurity.gov. Information is subject to periodic change. You may also call 1-800-772-1213.
What are the Benefits for survivors of veterans?
• Service-related death: The Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) will pay up to $2,000 for burial expenses.
• Non service-related death: The VA will pay up to $300 for burial and funeral expenses.
• The VA will pay up to $300 when a veteran died a non service-related death. The Plot-Interment Allowance for service-related deaths is included in the above $2,000.
• To apply for Burial and Plot-Interment allowance, fill out VA Form 21-530 Application for Burial Benefits.
You can download the form at www.va.gov/vaforms/. Read the instructions carefully and be sure to include all required documents when mailing the form.
Transportation of Body
If the deceased died during service and is buried in a national cemetery or if he/she died while in a VA hospital or while under VA nursing home care, some or all transportation costs may be reimbursed.
The above Veteran Benefits information and more can be found through the Department of Veterans Affairs website at www.va.gov. All dollar amounts are subject to change so you should always contact a veteran service agency concerning these amounts. Contact your VA Regional office or call toll-free at 1-800-827-1000.
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