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.
This article may contain links to third party websites, but Great Western Insurance Company is neither responsible nor liable for their content, accuracy, or security. Review our Terms and Conditions to learn more.
Photo credit: iStock
Free My Careletter program helps families cope with loss
Great Western Insurance Company created the My Careletter® program to help families cope with bereavement. It features 12 free, monthly newsletters about grief support that are sent following a loved one's funeral. Sign up to receive the newsletters in the mail.
Sign up for free
Find grief support
Search for grief support resources, such as in-person groups, online forums, and phone hotlines, available in your area.
Do you need help preplanning your final wishes? Request a free copy of our Planning Guide.
How to apply 5 stages of grief to your grieving process
A new look at the stages of grief model can make the pathway to healing less rocky when you're mourning a loved one.
Complicated grief: How to cope with death
If the loss of a loved one consumes your mind and causes your relationships to suffer, you may be experiencing complicated grief.
Forms you need to complete after a person dies
When someone passes, planning the funeral is the first of many tasks you’ll need to complete. One of the biggest chores is processing paperwork. To help you weed through it, we’ve compiled a list of forms you may need to fill out to settle your loved one’s affairs.
What you need to know about bereavement leave
When a loved one dies, you need time — to grieve and to begin the healing process. That’s why it’s necessary to understand what, if any, bereavement leave your employer offers. This list of bereavement leave questions and answers will get you started.
Grief support is available in more ways than ever
Grief support groups try to connect you with others, but not everyone feels comfortable sharing their emotions. That’s why finding the right format to receive grief support is as important as seeking it in the first place.
How to avoid bereavement scams after a loved one dies
Many families face bereavement scams after the loss of a loved one. But if you know what to look for, you can avoid being scammed and focus on finding grief support.