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When Death Occurs

The immediate necessities following the death of a loved one are calling 911 (if the death occurs unexpectedly at home), talking to the doctors and staff (if the death took place in a nursing home, hospital or hospice), and informing close relatives and friends.

The next most important steps are:

  • Filing the death certificate. Washington law requires you to file the death certificate with the local registrar within three business days after the death and before the burial or cremation.
  • Contacting a funeral director or other authorized person to arrange the burial or cremation if you are the ‘Designated Agent’. Washington law determines who has the right to make funeral arrangements. If the deceased had a pre-paid funeral arrangement, this needs to be located and the appropriate funeral director contacted.
  • Getting a permit from the local registrar to transport the body for burial or cremation. You must obtain this permit within three business days after the death and before the burial or cremation.
  • Locating the deceased’s will and/or trust and identifying the Personal Representative (if named). The Personal Representative is an executor, an administrator or a trustee.
  • Notifying the deceased’s doctor and lawyer (if any) and the Personal Representative and/or Trustee.
  • Filing a probate case with the court. The person named as the Executor of the will does the filing. The Executor is responsible for carrying out the deceased wishes as set out in the will and for paying creditors and distribute the assets. It is not a legal requirement to hire an attorney, but it could be very helpful.
  • Discussing and planning the funeral and/or memorial service with the family and the funeral director.
  • Writing and publishing an obituary.
  • Locating other important documents included deeds and insurance policies, financial records, bank and credit card accounts and mortgage documents.
  • Notifying organizations such as Social Security Administration, banks and insurance companies.

At Gaffney Funeral Home, we are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. If a death occurs in your family, we are ready to serve you with speed, compassion and sensitivity. We can guide you through each and every step listed above. Please call us toll free at 866-572-6003.