The First Steps to Take When a Loved One Passes

At the moment you learn a loved one has passed, the first feelings you may experience could be a combination of sadness, grief, and shock — even if your loved one may have been ill and had already made end-of-life arrangements. Unfortunately, we can lose a loved one at any time, even when we’re least prepared. In some cases, you may be the person who happens to be spending time with your loved one at the very moment they pass away.

Considering how difficult it is to lose a loved one, it’s best to be aware of the steps you must take if you’re the party responsible for making arrangements when your loved one passes.

Immediately after passing

  1. Get a legal pronouncement of death from your loved one’s attending physician. If no physician is present, contact one of the following entities:
    • If your loved one passes away at home in hospice care, contact the hospice nurse, who can officially declare the death and assist with arranging for the transport of the body.
    • If your loved one passes away at home without hospice care, call emergency services (911) and make sure you have a do-not-resuscitate document in hand, if possible. Otherwise, paramedics may be required to start attempting resuscitation, and must take your loved one to the hospital so a doctor can make the official declaration.
  2. Arrange for transportation of your loved one’s body. If no autopsy is required, your loved one can be picked up by your cremation provider.
  3. Notify your loved one’s physician or the county coroner.
  4. Notify your closest friends and family members, and ask them to help you with notifying others.
  5. Arrange for the immediate care of any dependents and pets.
  6. Notify your loved one’s employer, if applicable. Request information about their benefits and due pay, and about whether they had a life-insurance policy.

The next few days following your loved one’s passing

  1. Make arrangements for cremation or burial. Find out whether your loved one had pre-existing cremation arrangements, or make an appointment to speak with a cremation provider.
  2. Prepare an obituary for your loved one.
  3. Contact the military, church, or fraternity if your loved one belonged to these organizations, or those that are similar to find out if they offer special benefits.
  4. Ask a close friend or family member to take care of your loved one’s home. You may need to stay on top of checking your loved one’s voicemail messages, collecting their mail, cleaning out the refrigerator, and caring for plants.

Up to 10 days following your loved one’s passing

  1. Obtain the death certificate from your cremation provider or funeral home. Afterward, make multiple copies of the official death certificate so you can provide them to financial institutions, insurance providers, and government agencies as required.
  2. Take your loved one’s last will and testament to the county or city office so it can be accepted for probate.
  3. Contact one or more of the following parties, if necessary:
    • An attorney who can take charge of transferring assets and dealing with probate issues.
    • Law enforcement, so they can keep an eye on your loved one’s vacant home.
    • Accountant to determine whether final tax returns should be filed.
    • Your loved one’s bank, to locate accounts and any safe deposit boxes.
    • Your loved one’s life insurance provider, to obtain claim forms.
    • Social Security, Veterans Affairs, and other agencies from which your loved one received benefits.
    • Utility companies and postal service so you can stop service.

At Heartland Cremation, we understand that cremation is a simple and worry-free way of remembering and memorializing your loved one, and that is why we will work with you in arranging a simple cremation service. For more information, please contact Heartland Cremation at one of our greater Kansas City area locations.

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