When A Death Occurs
When a death occurs, the order in which things need to be done often depends on where the death occurred. But, one thing should always be remembered: your heightened emotional state upon the death of a loved one. We are here to guide you through the proper steps. We also suggest that you ask a friend for help - someone who is more able to think clearly, and give you the support you need.
At Home or at Work
When a death occurs at home or in the workplace, a family member or co-worker should contact emergency personnel and the person's physician if he or she was under a doctor's care. If the death occurs at home with family or friends present, and the person is under a physician's care, the family will want to call us directly.
However, if the death occurs in a residence and no one is there at the time of death, the police will need to be notified and respond to the residence before the deceased is removed from their home.
If in any case you are not sure of who to notify or what to do, you may call (860) 521-4400, and we'll assist you in notifying the proper agencies.
While Under Supervised Care
When a death occurs in a care facility, such as a hospital or nursing home, the professional staff will notify you and the necessary authorities. If the name of the funeral home has been left with them, the institution will notify the funeral home at the time of the death. The funeral director will contact you immediately following their notification to help you proceed. (However, we suggest you contact the funeral home immediately, so you've got the reassurance you need that all is taken care of properly.)
If a loved one was in the care of a hospice program, a hospice representative will give family members instructions and procedures to follow. The coroner/medical examiner will be notified by hospice. Following their release the hospice will contact the funeral home. It is always a good idea for the family to contact us immediately so that we will be aware of the pending call from hospice.
Widening the Circle
Our staff members are experienced professionals who can provide much of the information you need, emotional support, and compassionate guidance.
While you may ask the director any questions at this time, you will be able to discuss the arrangements in detail later when you meet in person. During this initial call, the funeral director will gather information to be able to transport your loved one to the funeral home.
The funeral director may ask you several questions, including whether your loved one made any pre-arrangements. The director will also schedule a date and time for you to meet at the funeral home and will let you know what you should bring with you. Others you will need to call are:
- Family members, friends, and clergy or other spiritual advisors: It may be easier on you to make just a few phone calls to close relatives and ask them to inform specific people so the burden of spreading news does not rest entirely on you. If you are alone, don't be afraid to ask someone to keep you company as you make the first phone calls and cope with the first hours after the death.
- The employer: If the deceased was working, the employer must be notified as soon as possible. Ask about any benefits the deceased was receiving or will receive, including any pay due (including vacation or sick time), disability income, etc. Ask if you or other dependents are still eligible for benefit coverage through the company. Determine whether there is a life insurance policy through the employer, who the beneficiary is, and how to file a claim.
- The life insurance company: Look through the deceased's important papers for a life policy. Call the agent or company to determine how to file a claim. Usually the beneficiary (or the beneficiary's guardian, if a minor) must complete the claim forms and related paperwork. You will need to submit a certified death certificate with cause of death and a claimant's statement to establish proof of claim. Ask about payment options. You may have a choice between receiving a lump sum or having the company place the money in an interest-bearing account from which you can write checks.
- Other organizations: Usually the funeral home will contact Social Security and the Veterans Administration (if applicable) on your behalf. You will want to contact any unions, professional or service organizations, or fraternal organizations of which your loved one was a member. He or she may have had life insurance or other benefits through these organizations.
- The court: If you were named executor/personal representative of your loved one's will, you'll need to file the will with the court and you may need to open a probate case with the court. An attorney may not be required, depending on the size and complexity of the estate but it may help you to hire one that is experienced in probate. As executor/personal representative, you'll be responsible for carrying out your loved one's wishes according to the will, paying creditors, and balancing the estate. There is no standard time for probate, and it can be complicated and lengthy or it can be streamlined and less complicated, depending upon the size of and the nature of the assets of the estate.
- The bank: If you have a joint account with the deceased, you may be able
to conduct business as usual depending on how the account was opened.
Otherwise, usually only the will's executor or administrator can access
the account after providing the required paperwork to the bank. You will
need to contact your bank to determine their requirements.
Those Important Questions
If there is no pre-plan in place, there are several other questions
that you may have to have answered in regards to the death of your loved
one. By contacting our staff, we'll be able to help answer your
questions and assist in making the appropriate plans. You can reach us
at (860) 521-4400. You may also find information you need on the Frequently Asked Questions section of our Web site.
However, as we’ve said before, one of the best ways to make sure that all of your questions and desires are taken care of is to make pre-arrangements. This is as simple as outlining your wishes to having all of the details written down and the financial arrangements prepaid. Please contact one of our staff at (860) 521-4400 to learn more about pre-arrangement.
What to Expect When You Arrive at the Funeral Home
One of the first things the funeral arranger will do is to provide you with our general price list. He or she will then guide you through the entire arrangement process, explaining how you can create a memorable personal celebration of your loved one's life. This is not a one-way conversation; we want to hear your ideas and desires, and use them as the foundation for the arrangement process.
This process may include:
- Preparing and filing the official death certificate
- Scheduling the location, date and time of services or events
- Selecting a casket, urn or other items
- Preparing an obituary notice
- Scheduling vehicles
- Selecting pallbearers
You may also sign necessary authorizations or make arrangements to have them signed by the appropriate family members.
We’d like you to bring any photos, a favorite song, or memorabilia so that you and your funeral arranger can better discuss how you would like your loved one to be remembered. Having these things, and knowing their favorite song or favorite gathering place – even their favorite activity – will help us create a truly fitting memorial service.
Our funeral arrangers will assist you in planning a loving tribute that captures the spirit of the person whose life you wish to honor. To learn more about personalizing the service, visit the Honoring Your Loved One and Explore the Possibilities planning tool in the What We Do section of this Web site. The funeral arranger will discuss personalization with you during your arrangement conference.
The following checklist will help you remember what information about the decedent and items will be needed when meeting with a funeral arranger.
- Full legal name - Home address
- Social Security number
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Father's name
- Mother's maiden name
- Veteran's discharge papers (DD-214), if the deceased was a veteran
- One or two recent photographs. These will be used during the embalming and cosmetizing process
- Highest education
- Place of burial (if applicable)
- Clothing, including undergarments and jewelry or glasses
- Clergy name and phone number (or that of celebrants you wish to involve in the ceremonies)
- Survivors (name and relationship)
- Records of life insurance policies (if applicable)
- Any information related to a pre-arrangement, if possible
A staff member of Taylor & Modeen Funeral Home of West Hartford will be honored to explain all of the options available to you.