Practical Tasks Following the Death of a Loved One

Help From Our Hospice Team

After the death of a loved one, families are faced with sudden changes and a staggering amount of details involved in making final arrangements. It is an overwhelming time, clouded by grief and decision-making. Locating important documents can seem like a monumental task.

Hospice patients and their families have the benefit of receiving help from our hospice team after death has occurred. Hospice team members can assist with details, including calling the funeral home, compiling necessary documents (i.e., death certificate, will, insurance policies, veteran’s discharge papers, etc.), answering calls, arranging a military funeral and assisting with other needs.

Here is a list of tasks that generally need to be accomplished after a death:

Shortly after the death, notify:

  • The doctor(s)
  • The funeral director or mortuary
  • Relatives
  • Friends
  • Employer of deceased
  • Employers of relatives (to arrange bereavement leave)
  • Insurance agents (life, health, etc.), family attorney
  • Organizations (religious, civic, etc.)
  • Newspapers for the obituary

Shortly after the death, arrange:

  • Funeral or memorial service
    • Military or non-military
    • Location of service
    • Flowers, music
    • Clergy or lay person to officiate
    • Information for eulogy
  • Burial or cremation arrangements
    • Meet with funeral director
    • Check and sign burial permit
    • Arrange for visitation
  • Answer calls, messages, letters (if you wish)
  • Obtain addresses for thank-you cards (if you wish)
  • Check the will for special wishes
  • Order at least 10 copies of the death certificate

Secure vital statistics:

(The information below about the deceased is usually required by the board of health for a burial permit.)

  • Name, home address, phone number
  • How long lived in current state
  • Name of business, address, phone
  • Occupation and title
  • Social Security number
  • Veteran's serial number
  • Date of birth
  • U.S. citizenship
  • Father's name
  • Father's birthplace
  • Mother's maiden name
  • Mother's birthplace
  • Religious name (if any)

Collect documents:

(This information about the deceased is usually required for insurance, pension, Social Security, etc.)

  • Death certificate
  • Deed to burial property
  • Will
  • Legal proof of age or birth certificate
  • Social Security card or number
  • Marriage license
  • Citizenship papers
  • Insurance policies (life, health ,etc.)
  • Bank books
  • Investment papers
  • Deeds to property
  • Bill of sale for car
  • Income tax returns, receipts
  • Checks
  • Veteran's discharge certificate
  • Disability and pension claims

Planning a loved one’s funeral and taking care of all the details of their life can bring closure to the family. But, once the funeral is over, it’s important to recognize that grieving will continue. VITAS provides grief and bereavement support to families up to 13 months after the death of a loved one.

Find out if hospice care could help your loved one.


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