What To Do Following
The Loss Of A Loved One

This checklist provides a detailed summary of the tasks that need to be completed following the death of a loved one. When a loved one passes away, it is an understandably difficult time. It can be even more stressful trying to remember all of the details that must be taken care of. If you are in charge of handling the affairs of the decedent (the person who passed away) this guide contains a comprehensive checklist of the information that must be provided and the tasks that must be performed when someone passes away.


The staff of the Heritage Cremation Society will perform many of these tasks while others will be the responsibility of the family or other designated party. The most important thing to remember is that your Heritage Cremation Society professional is available to help you 24 hours a day – 365 days a year. Please feel free to call us anytime at 800-864-2295.

When a loved one dies at home

When a loved one dies at home there are several different courses of action that may be taken.

Hospice Care

If the deceased party was under hospice care, call the hospice staff and notify them of the death.  A hospice nurse will immediately be sent to the home to verify and establish the time of death. 

Call Heritage Cremation Society to notify our staff of the death at 800-864-2295.

While you wait for the hospice nurse, you may invite family or friends to the home for a final goodbye.  This time is yours so take as much time as you need.

Once the hospice nurse has come to the home and you are ready, call Heritage Cremation Society and our first call staff will come to the home and transfer your loved one to our local facility.

Sudden Death

If the deceased party passes away at home and is not under hospice care, call 911 and notify the local authorities.  They will send emergency medical staff to the home to determine the best course of action.  Depending on a number of different factors they will release the deceased party to our staff, transfer the deceased party to a local hospital for pronouncing or refer the death to the local medical examiner/coroners office for review. 

Once a decision has been made, call Heritage Cremation Society and our first call staff will come to the appropriate location and transfer your loved one to our local facility.  This can be a very stressful event so please call us if you are confused or have any questions. 


When a loved one dies at a Nursing Home or Medical Facility

If the deceased party passes away at a nursing home, hospital or other medical facility notify the staff that you select Heritage Cremation Society to handle the arrangements. If the deceased party is at a nursing home, the staff will often let you take as much time as you would like for family to gather for a final goodbye. When the time is right, they will call us and our first call staff will come to the facility and transfer your loved one to our local facility. If the death came as a result of an accident or considered a wrongful death, the coroner’s office will automatically be contacted.


Heritage Cremation Society Tasks

If the deceased party had a prearranged plan with the Heritage Cremation Society our staff will immediately contact family to update the biographical information.  If the deceased party did not have a prearranged plan, our staff will schedule a time convenient for family or the responsible party to complete the forms and authorizations required for cremation in the state of Ohio.  Our staff will then prepare the Certificate of Death and deliver it to the physician of record for signing.  Once the certificate is signed and following the mandatory 24-hour waiting period established by the State of Ohio the body of the deceased can be scheduled for cremation.

Our staff will record the death certificate with the local health department and secure copies as directed by the family or responsible party.

Our staff will notify social security of the death and assist family with filing any claims.  Benefits are only paid to a surviving spouse or dependent children. 

Our staff will coordinate any arrangements selected by the family. This includes a Memorial or Celebration of Life Service, private viewing or interment in a local cemetery or National Veterans Cemetery.

Our staff will prepare and write the obituary for the family at no charge including placement on our website.  Please note that the newspaper will charge to run the obituary and the rate will vary depending on the newspaper.  Most newspapers charge by the word or line and charge an additional fee to include a picture.

Our staff will provide options to families interested in urns, urn vaults or other memorial packages.


Family Tasks

  1. Contact attorney, accountant and executor of estate.
  2. Determine number of death certificates required. One per life insurance policy unless they are with the same company.
  3. Contact employer. Find out about compensation due, benefits, whether dependents are still eligible for coverage, whether or not there is life insurance coverage through the company.
  4. Contact social security and other agencies or benefit programs that may be making payments to the deceased. The Social Security Administration toll free number is 800-772-1213 – or you can visit their website at www.socialsecurity.gov. If the deceased was receiving Social Security benefits, you will have to return the benefit received for the month of death or any later months. SSA may provide a one-time $255.00 death benefit to a surviving spouse or dependent child.
  5. Contact the Veterans Administration to stop any monthly disability benefits and determine if there are any funeral or death benefits available 800-827-1000.
  6. Contact life insurance companies and determine what is needed to file a claim.
  7. Contact credit card and charge card companies to cancel and pay-off any balances.
  8. Contact banks to determine what is required. If they require a death certificate, give them an original and let them make a copy for their records. Most will not accept a copy from you.
  9. Contact utility companies to alter or discontinue service.
  10. Contact newspaper publishers to stop subscription.
  11. Contact post office, if necessary, to forward mail.
  12. Review old records (tax returns, bank and brokerage statements, titles to vehicles, checkbooks, etc)
  13. Find estate documents including will, trust and power of attorney papers.
  14. Find key financial documents including stock certificates, bearer bonds, etc.
  15. Collect asset information including life insurance policies, bank accounts, retirement accounts, investment accounts, real estate interests and business ownerships.
  16. Collect liability information including mortgages on real estate, taxes owed, credit card debt, credit line debt and unpaid bills.
  17. Determine location of safe deposit box and keys.
  18. Inventory personal belongings.
  19. Review estate information with attorney including probate issues.
  20. File tax return for the deceased.