Immediate Need

Immediate Need

Let us take a moment to say we are so sorry for your loss. We hope that you will find this section of our website helpful in this difficult time. If you are looking for information on what to do now that a death has occurred, you have come to the right place. As always, if you would prefer to speak to someone directly, please contact us.

A Death has Occurred

If you were present during the final moments in a loved one’s life, then you’ve been fortunate. We believe that while nothing prepares you for being present at the death of a loved one, bearing witness to their passing can bring new insights into your own capacity for selfless love and caring, renewed or intensified bonds with other family members, a new respect for siblings, or a healing of old emotional wounds. It is a priceless gift – but it’s one you may not truly value until much later.
 

So, Who Do You Call First?

Whether you were sitting right next to the bed, or was unfortunate to get a call at 2 a.m. with news of a death of someone you loved, chances are your first feelings were of “being numb” and confused. But, if you're responsible for making the funeral arrangements or executing the will, you really can’t give into the shock or grief - you’ve got to move forward, and take care of things.

What to do first depends on the circumstances of the death. When someone dies in a hospital or similar care facility, the staff will usually take care of some arrangements, such as contacting the funeral home you choose, and if necessary, arranging an autopsy.

However, you – or a designated family member or friend – will need to notify others. We’ve found it will make it easier on you if just a few phone calls are made to other relatives or friends, where you ask each of them to make a phone call or two to specific people. In that way, the burden of spreading the news isn't all on you.

And if you are facing this situation alone, then ask a friend or neighbor to keep you company while you make these calls. In that way, you’ll be better able to cope with the first hours after the death.
 
One of the first calls which should be made is to a licensed Funeral Director. Naturally, we'd like you to call us. But whether you choose to trust one of our funeral professionals to care for your loved one, or select a different funeral home, you should know that the Funeral Director will help you:
  • Transport the body
  • Obtain a death certificate
  • Select a casket, urn and/or grave marker
  • Arrange the funeral, memorial and/or burial service
  • Prepare and publish the obituary
  • Help notify the deceased's employer, attorney, insurance company and banks
  • Offer grief support
  • Direct you to other resources

Don’t Forget to Call the Employer

Was your loved one employed? Then, you'll need to call his or her employer immediately, to let them know of the passing, and the resulting change in their staffing arrangements.

At some later point (most likely when the funeral is over), you should ask about the deceased's benefits and any pay, which is owed to them, including vacation or sick time.

Also ask if you or other dependents are still eligible for benefit coverage through the company. And, you might ask whether there is a life insurance policy through the employer, who the beneficiary is, and how to file a claim.
Call the Life Insurance Company

If your loved one had a life insurance policy, locate the related paperwork. Call the agent or the company and ask how to file a claim. Usually the beneficiary (or the beneficiary's guardian, if a minor) must complete the claim forms and related paperwork.

You'll need to submit a certified copy of the death certificate and a claimant's statement to establish proof of claim. Remember to ask about payment options. You may have a choice between receiving a lump sum, and the having the insurance company place the money in an interest-bearing account from which you can write checks.

For more information on what's involved with funeral planning click here or contact us.

Are You the Responsible Family Member?

We’ve seen it happen time and again. The person making the initial call to our funeral home turns out not to be the one with the legal responsibilities of making decisions related to the care of a loved one.

While they may feel that they should be the one to make these choices, the law doesn’t recognize them as such – and so their voice can become effectively silenced.

If the deceased has not expressed their wishes through a written document such as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, or a Last Will and Testament, where the deceased has designated an agent to fulfill their wishes, then the order of priority set forth in Subdivision 2 of Section 4201 of the NYS Public Health Law is the following:
  1. A person designated in writing pursuant to Public Health Law section 4201(3);
  2. The surviving spouse;
    1. The surviving domestic partner;
  3. Any surviving child eighteen years of age or older;
  4. A surviving parent;
  5. A surviving sibling eighteen years of age or older;
  6. A lawfully appointed guardian;
  7. Any person(s) eighteen years of age or older entitled to share in the estate and who is/are closest in relationship to the deceased;
  8. A duly appointed fiduciary of the estate;
  9. A close friend or relative who has executed a written statement pursuant to Public Health Law §4201(7);
  10. A chief fiscal officer of a county or a public administrator appointed pursuant to the Surrogate's Court Procedure Act;
    1. Any other person who is acting on behalf of the deceased and who has executed a written statement pursuant to Public Health Law §4201(7).
The person designated as the responsible party, whoever they may be, needs to be present to make decisions, and sign documents. If you are unclear as to who is the responsible person in planning a funeral for your loved one, call us.

The Critical Importance of Designating an AGENT

If your loved one has yet to specify who they wish to be in control of their funeral service planning, and they are able enough to do so, now is the perfect time to take care of that important task.

This is especially important if they believe their relatives may not honor their funeral wishes, or if they are on bad terms with them; do not know where they are, or do not have any relatives living.  

And, you might mention that appointing a specific person (agent) to arrange their funeral who is not a family member, but is deeply trusted, is a good way to ensure that their final wishes are carried out.

They can designate an agent by completing a form: Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition, a legal written instrument in accordance with Section 4201 of the NYS Public Health Law. We can assist you with this form which is available at the funeral home.

Should you have questions about doing so, call us, or speak with your family attorney.
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