What to do when someone dies

Click here for a printable version of this checklist

When a death occurs in your family, you will be faced with a variety of important tasks during a very difficult time in your life. You may not know what to do or when to begin making arrangements. Bearing the responsibility can be overwhelming. We at Cremstar have compiled the following list to help guide you through the steps you'll need to take when a death has occurred.
  1. Whether you are making arrangements via Cremstar.com or somewhere else, you should be prepared to answer the following questions:
    • What is the full name of the deceased?
    • What is the location of the deceased (Hospital, Nursing Facility or Residence)?
    • What is your name, address and telephone number?
    • What is the name, address and phone number of the next-of-kin?
    • What is the Social security number of the deceased?
    • What was the deceased's birth date and city and state of birth?
    • What are or were the deceased's parents' names, including mother's maiden name
    • What level of education did the deceased achieve?
    • What was his/her marital status?
    • Was the deceased a veteran? (If so, you may require their discharge papers or Claim Number as vets are entitled to special benefits.)
    • If applicable, do you have cemetery lot information?
    • How many copies of the death certificate do you require? Keep in mind, you will often need additional, original certified copies in order to close bank accounts, collect insurance, and so on.
    If you wish to arrange for a direct cremation with Cremstar, you can get the simple process started even while you are still gathering these details. Start here.
  2. Make a list of family, friends and business colleagues, and notify each by phone.
  3. Decide on an appropriate charity to which gifts may be made (church, hospice, library, organization, school).
  4. Gather obituary information, including a photo, age, place of birth, cause of death, occupation, college degrees, memberships held, military service, and a list of survivors in the immediate family.
  5. If you are planning a memorial ceremony and/or supper, where and when will it occur?
  6. Arrange for family members and/or close friends to take turns answering the door or phone. (Keeping a careful record of visitors and flower deliveries will make it easier to thank people later.)
  7. If Social Security checks are deposited automatically, notify the bank of the death.
  8. Coordinate the food supply in your home for the next several days.
  9. Delegate special needs of the household, such as cleaning, food preparation, etc., to friends and family who offer their help.
  10. Arrange for child care, if necessary.
  11. Arrange hospitality for visiting relatives and friends.
  12. Plan for the disposition of flowers; e.g. where should they be sent?
  13. Prepare a list of distant friends and relatives to be notified by letter, printed notice, or via Cremstar.com. Assign someone to manage the list of those who have sent acknowledgments of flowers, calls, etc. so that you can thank them later.
  14. Notify insurance companies of the death.
  15. Locate the will and notify the lawyer and executor.
  16. Carefully check all life and casualty insurance and death benefits, including Social Security, credit union, trade union, fraternal, and military. Check on possible income for survivors from these sources. Note that Cremstar will notify the Social Security department automatically to inform them of the death.
  17. Check promptly on all debts and installment payments, including credit cards. Some may carry insurance clauses that will cancel them. If there is to be a delay in meeting payments, consult with creditors and ask for more time before the payments are due.
  18. If the deceased was living alone, notify the utility companies and landlord and tell the post office where to forward the mail.
  19. Update or close all of the decedent's social media; verify decedent bequests, if available.
  20. And, finally, focus on what’s most important: caring for your family and yourself, and remembering and celebrating the life of your lost loved one.
At Cremstar, we are committed to making sure you arrive at a decision that is right for you and your lost loved one. If you choose to arrange a cremation via Cremstar, we take care of all the paperwork and logistics so you can focus on what’s most important: caring for your family and yourself, and remembering and celebrating the life of your lost loved one.

We also offer a FREE MemoryBox memorial where you, your family and friends can post and share photos and memories of your lost loved one, simply, from any device, and from anywhere in the world. Begin the process here.