Checklist: What to Do When Someone Dies
Use this checklist to guide you through losing a loved one — from the initial moments to the first few weeks
You've just lost a loved one. You're consumed by grief and can't think what to do next. Use this outline to walk through what to do when someone dies, step-by-step, and keep track of where you are in the process with this FREE downloadable checklist.
Who to call first
Local law enforcement: should be contacted when someone dies and the death was due to unknown circumstances or not witnessed.
Attending physician, a coroner, or medical examiner: will be needed to legally pronounce the death. If the deceased is in a hospital or other care facility, the staff will arrange this step.
Next of kin or a legal representative of the deceased: to notify of the deceased’s passing and to learn whether the deceased had a prearranged funeral plan. If a plan exists, it will give direction on how to proceed with funeral arrangements.
Funeral director: to transfer the body from the place of death to a funeral home or crematory.
Information to provide during first calls
Full name of the deceased
Deceased’s address and phone number
Time of death
Facility name, address, and phone number of current location of the body
Attending physician’s name and phone number
Your name, address, and phone number
Your relationship to the deceased
Who to notify next
Close family and friends: ask them to notify others
Employer of deceased: if applicable
Insurance agents: if applicable
Attorney, accountant, and executer of estate
First week after death
Arrange care for deceased’s dependents and pets
Start planning a funeral (For a detailed checklist, read How to Plan a Funeral Step-by-Step)
Gather information for obituary and documents:
- Full legal name, address, and phone number of the deceased
- Social Security number
- Religious name (if any)
- Date and place of birth
- Marital status
- Name of spouse (if married)
- Spouse’s maiden name (if wife)
- Father’s name and birthplace
- Mother’s name, birthplace, and maiden name
- Full names, addresses, and phone numbers of all children, grandchildren, etc.
- Veteran’s serial/service number (if served in the military)
- Date and place of military service
- Date of military discharge
- How long lived at current residence and former residences
- Highest level of education completed
- Occupation, job title, nature of work, and employment history
- Current employer’s name, address, and phone number
- Place obituary in newspaper or online
- Remaining family and friends
- Religious, fraternal, civic organizations, and unions
10 days and beyond
Pay bills for:
- Estate/inheritance taxes
- Funeral costs
- Cemetery expenses
- Hospital/nursing home bills
- Current and urgent bills (mortgage)
- Clean and sort through loved one’s home
Download a FREE checklist to keep track of your progress.
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Photo credit: Wave Break Media