After Death

After Death

What do you need to do when someone dies? Powers of Attorney and Guardianship authorities end at the time of death.


  • Notify the authorities if it was unexpected, at home, or in the community
  • Notify the person’s doctor or hospice team
  • If the person lived in a long-term care facility they will have a procedure that they will follow.
  • Arrange for any organ donation
  • Notify immediate family members directly and ask them to share the information
  • Don’t use social media as a way to share the news with close family members-they may not read the information before someone else is offering their condolences
  • Look for documents that have information on funeral and burial instructions as well as life insurance.
  • If the person was a Veteran look for the Military Discharge form DD-214


Within approximately 24 hours:

  • Contact the funeral home and cemetery to make arrangements.
  • Bring the following with you to the funeral home:
    • Social Security number
    • Life insurance policies
    • Mother’s full name (including maiden name)
    • Father’s full name
    • Birth Place
    • Clothing, including undergarments
    • Glasses
    • Jewelry (may be returned after the service)
    • Recent photo


For Veterans

  • Ask the funeral director for help to obtain Veteran burial benefits.
  • Deceased Veterans may be eligible for burial assistance.
  • A Veteran’s family may request a United States Flag (at no cost) to drape the casket.
  • At the family’s request, every eligible veteran receives a military funeral honors ceremony.



  • Arranging a funeral is a business transaction.
  • The person signing the contract for the funeral services is legally responsible for the cost of those services.
  • Powers of Attorney ended when the individual died.
  • Unless your name is also on the account, you cannot access the deceased’s bank account.
  • Life insurance is paid to the person who was named as the beneficiary. It is NOT related to who paid for the funeral or a Will.
  • Beneficiary information is confidential and the life insurance company might not be able to tell you who the beneficiary is if it is not you.
  • If the person arranging the funeral services is the named beneficiary, they may assign all or some of the life insurance proceeds to be paid directly to the funeral home.
  • If the deceased was indigent and receiving public assistance, there may be financial assistance available through the Department of Human Services to cover some of the funeral expenses. Click here to learn more.


In the following days or weeks:

  • The funeral home should assist with obtaining the certified death certificate. (It could take a few days up to several weeks to obtain.) Get several copies if possible.
  • The life insurance company and financial institutions will need an original certified death certificate(it will have a raised seal). You can request that they return the original to you.
  • Make arrangements for the headstone.
  • Notify the following of the death:
    • Social Security 1-800-772-1213
    • Banks, Financial Institutions, Credit Card Companies (Certified Death Certificate may be required)
    • Insurance companies (Life, Health and Property insurers)
    • Notify the public utilities including cell phone providers.
  • Contact the Postal Service to forward mail
  • Update the following-
  • Go to the Probate Court
    • If there is a Will-
      • A Will is not a valid document until it has been presented before a probate judge, also known as “probated”. An Executor of the Estate is usually the person chosen by the deceased and authorized by the Probate Court to administer the Will.
    • If there is No Will-
      • The Probate Court judge will appoint an Executor based on State law.
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