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NEW! - Keywords For This Page:   Death - Disaster Preparedness

When Someone Dies

Feel free to use this tip sheet / checklist as you tackle your own ""do-it-yourself"" organizing projects. If you would like to REPRINT or DISTRIBUTE this information, please click here for reprinting instructions.


  • call the doctor -- the doctor will probably call the coroner for you
  • try not to move anything until an official pronouncement is made
  • make note of the time of death (as near as you can)
  • contact friends or family for support during this difficult time
  • keep a running list of people to thank (for help, support, flowers, etc.)


  • get a copy of the death certificate from the attending doctor or coroner
  • contact the local Registry Office with temporary death certificate
  • submit the address, complete name, and date and place of birth / death
  • you will receive a standard death certificate
  • required to go through probate, file insurance claims, collect pensions, etc.
  • you will receive a disposal certificate for burial or cremation
  • collect up the will, any estate documents, and insurance policies


  • decide on a funeral home and talk to the director about the arrangements
  • locate the person's burial instructions and last wishes
  • determine if the burial or cemetery plot has been pre-paid
  • choose a location, date, and time for the services
  • ask for itemized list of funeral and burial costs and what they cover
  • determine if you want ashes scattered or in a container (for a cremation)
  • let mourners know if they should send flowers or charitable donations
  • determine if you want a "viewing" before hand -- open or closed casket
  • decide on the prayers, music, and structure of the service
  • make preparations for food and beverages after the service


  • use the person's address book to call friends and family personally
  • contact the person's employer and co-workers
  • place an obituary that town's local newspaper
  • inform any governmental agencies (social security, IRS, military, etc.)
  • notify any insurance agencies or financial institutions
  • contact the person's attorney and executor of the will
  • cancel utility services
  • notify the post office and have mail re-directed
  • cancel rental lease or assume mortgage payments


  • all financial decisions must be made by the executor of the will
  • "grant of probate" allows payment of any debts still left open
  • find out who beneficiaries are on any insurance policies or other accounts
  • remainder of assets will then be distributed according to the will


  • all decisions must be made by spouse or closest other relative
  • need to contact an attorney for advice and guidance throughout process
  • can get the necessary forms at the local probate office
  • will need to determine what assets the person owned and any debts owed
  • return required forms to probate with standard death certificate
  • get Letters of Administration from probate to distribute the person's assets


Copyright Ramona Creel, all rights reserved-- you are welcome to reprint any article, but you MUST include this resource box.

Ramona Creel is a modern Renaissance woman and guru of simplicity -- traveling the country as a full-time RVer, sharing her story of radically downsizing, and inspiring others to regain control of their own lives. As a Professional Organizer and Accountability Coach, Ramona will help you create the time and space to focus on your true priorities -- clearing away the clutter other obstacles and standing in the way of that life you've always wanted to be living. As a Professional Photographer, Ramona captures powerful images of places and people as she travels. And as a travel writer, social commentator, and blogger, she shares her experiences and insights about the world as we know it. You can see all these sides of Ramona -- read her articles, browse through her photographs, and even hire her to help get your life in order -- at www.RamonaCreel.com. And be sure to follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.

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