After the Funeral

Guide to the Many Business, Legal and Financial Decisions that Come After a Death.

Legal Information/Probating a Will

We suggest you obtain legal advice on the array of different matters such as the disbursement or conservation of assets, changing of property deeds and titles, the disposition of bank accounts, stocks, bonds, and the disposition of any business assets. If you loved one had a will it will need to be probated. Probate is the legal procedure for the orderly distribution of assets. In most cases, probating a will is a simple process. Only in the instances where a will is being contested or the deceased had numerous holdings will the action be more complex. There is usually a specified time within which a will must be probated, so it is important to check carefully. If there was no will, the estate will be disposed of according to the state laws governing descent and distribution.

Social Security

The family must call Social Security at (888) 772-1213 between 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., M-Friday.  The funeral home will notify the Social Security Department with Form 721, but the family must call to stop any payments and to determine any survivor benefits. A $255 lump sum burial allowance may be eligible for a surviving spouse. You can access more information via the website:

Death Certificates

A certified copy of the death certificate is available through the health department of the county where the death occurred. These are colored legal documents with County Registrar’s signature and the State seal. These copies are usually required for legal purposes. Certified copies may be obtained through our Funeral Home, or you may request them on your own at a later date through the health department. The funeral home does not charge a fee for acquiring these documents; we obtain the copies on your behalf as a service to you. However, the County does charge $20.00 for each certified copy. Usually, certified copies of the death certificate are required for insurance, insured loans, stocks or bonds in joint ownership and for real property in joint ownership. Some institutions may take a photocopy.

Insurance Policies

An original Death Certificate will likely be needed and copies of Birth and Marriage Certificates may be necessary before claims can be made for Life Insurance proceeds. Life Insurance Policies, even though premiums have not been paid for a number of years, may still be in effect through an automatic agreement stated in the policy.

Check for coverage at the place of employment, health and accident coverage. Also be sure to check with all credit card companies regarding possible policies on the account. Call the agent for each or write to the headquarters for the appropriate forms for claims. Make sure you keep a written log of who you spoke with and when so that you can track the claims easier. For fire insurance, remove the name of the deceased from the policies.

Veterans Benefits

We can help you file for burial benefits and obtain a U.S. Flag for the next of kin. We will also order your free military marker and in some cases cemetery reimbursement. If the deceased was a Veteran, a benefit may be available depending whether or not the death was from a service related cause. If the deceased was receiving a Veteran’s disability pension, contact the Department of Veteran’s Affairs or other local Government office dealing with Veteran’s Affairs. Be sure to give the deceased person’s name, rank, serial number, branch of service and discharge date if available. You can also call the VA Regional Office at (800) 827-1000.

Other Organizations

Contact any association, union, fraternal order, automobile club, or any other organization that the deceased may have belonged to. They may provide a death benefit.

Personal Property

Personal property held in joint ownership generally passes automatically by law to the surviving owner. However, any fire or other property insurance policies should be changed to the name of the surviving owner. Vehicles registered and insured in the name of the deceased should be transferred into the estate as soon as possible. The legal representative of the estate should make the transfer of ownership.

Some loans, service contracts and credit card accounts are life insured, and are paid up automatically when a client dies. Check with all companies where the deceased had accounts payable. All bills must be paid on the due date. Review all cancelled checks to determine whether or not a bill has been paid.

Home and Real Property

Take a certified death certificate to the Tax Assessor’s Office in the county in which the property is owned.


Be sure to notify banks of a death and transfer all money accounts to your name. For Safety Deposit Box - If in joint ownership, remove the deceased’s name. If in name of deceased only, inquire with the bank as to what steps need to be taken.

Stock and Bonds

Write to the stock company and ask about their procedure for transferring stocks into your name, or check with your broker.

Voter Registration

To cancel an individual’s voter registration, write a cancellation notice stating that the individual is deceased to the County Auditor’s Office.

Workers’ Compensation

If the deceased was receiving full pension from the Workers’ Compensation Board at the time of death, contact the local Board Office. The family may be eligible for survivor’s benefits.

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