What do I do when a death occurs?
When a death occurs at home and the person is under the care of hospice, the family should call the hospice organization. A nurse representative will come to the residence for the death pronouncement. While at the residence, the nurse will call the funeral home and inform us to remove the body. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If the death is sudden, a family member should call 911 and the police and emergency personnel will respond. The medical personnel will contact the medical examiner’s office. If the medical examiner determines that that further investigation is necessary, their staff or the ambulance will transport the body to their office. If they determine that there is no need for further investigation and the person’s physician has agreed to sign the death certificate, the police or emergency personnel will advise the family to call the funeral home to remove the body from the home.
If the death occurs in a hospital or nursing home, the staff will contact the family as well as the attending physician. They will usually ask the family if they care to come to the bedside for a private farewell. The family can then contact the funeral home to arrange for them to transport the deceased to the funeral home. The hospital may require the funeral home to provide a signed authorization from the next of kin before the body can be removed to the funeral home.
The funeral home can be contacted 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. When a call is made to the funeral home following a death, the funeral home representative will ask:
- The full name of the deceased
- The location of the deceased (residence, hospital, nursing home, medical examiner)
- The name of the person calling
- The name, relationship and phone number of the next of kin We may also ask if the family wishes a “traditional funeral” where there is viewing. We need to ask this to determine if embalming is necessary.
What do I need to bring to the arrangement conference?s
When you are ready to make funeral arrangements, we’ll set up a time that’s convenient for you to come to the funeral home. If for any reason you’re not able, we can come to your home. These are the topics that are most commonly discussed: When you meet with a member of our staff to discuss your arrangements, we'll first provide you with a general price list to give you a basic idea of what our services cost. We'll then walk you through the entire arrangement process.
This process may include:
- Obtaining information (vital Statistics) for the official death certificate
- Scheduling the services and events (including the location, date, and time)
- Selecting a casket, urn, or other products you may need
- Obtaining information for a death notice
- Arranging necessary transportation for the family
- Selecting pallbearers
Vital statistics needed in order to complete the death certificate:
- Full legal name and address of the deceased
- Date and place of birth
- Parents’ names (including mother’s maiden name)
- Years of education
- Occupation and last place of employment
- Social Security number
- Veterans Discharge papers
- Marital status
- Name of spouse (including maiden name of wife)
- Cemetery information
- Name, address and relationship of the person in charge of the arrangements
Other topics discussed:
- Clothing- although it is helpful to bring clothing to the arrangement conference (dress, suit, shirt, tie, underwear, and socks or stockings are needed), they may be obtained at a later time more convenient for the family.
- If you want a death notice to appear in the Star Ledger or other newspaper, the funeral home will ask the names of surviving relatives.
- A snapshot or photo for the newspaper and website (optional)
- Insurance papers or policy numbers if you are using insurance for funeral expenses.
How many death certificates do I need?
The death certificate is the permanent record of the death, which contains the cause of death signed by the doctor, the vital statistics supplied to the funeral director by the family and the cemetery or crematory where the final disposition takes place. The number of death certificates you will need to order varies depending on what agencies or companies require a certified copy . You may need them for the following:
- Settling of insurance claims
- Probate (Surrogates) Court Social
- Security Benefits Veteran’s benefits
- Transfer of bank checking or savings accounts
- Insured loans or insured credit card
- Notifying or obtaining pension or job related benefits
- Filing Federal or State income tax returns
- Transfer of real estate
- Credit card cancellations
- Welfare benefits
Our funeral home sends the completed death certificate, signed by both the funeral director and the physician to our local registrar of vital statistics - the Orange Health Department- and we obtain the certified copies of the death certificate ( $15.00 per copy with a raised seal) which the family has requested during the arrangement conference. If more copies of the death certificate are needed at a later time, the funeral home can request additional copies or they may be obtained from the health department or registrar of vital statistics in the town or municipality where the death occurred. A listing of local registrars can be found at www.nj.gov/health/vital.
What is probate?
Probate is the process of determining and “proving” who one’s legal heirs are in order to transfer property (bank accounts, stocks, autos or real estate) from the name of deceased to his or her survivors. In New Jersey this process of transferring the property of the deceased is handled by the surrogate’s office in the county where the deceased lived. If the deceased left a will, the executor must take the will, a death certificate to the surrogate’s office. If there is no will, a next of kin can be appointed to administer the estate. The Essex County Surrogate’s Office is located in Newark in the Hall of Records, 465 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Room 206. The phone number is 973-621-4900. The office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is not necessary to make an appointment to see one of the probate clerks. You will need to take a certified death certificate. For more information on probate in Essex County go to www.essexsurrogate.com to download forms, and to get fee information and directions.
Preparing the newspaper death notice and obituary
The obituary notice for the newspaper (death notice) is usually placed in the newspaper the day prior to the visitation. It is prepared from the information given to the funeral director at the arrangement conference. The newspaper notice should include:
- Age (optional)
- City of Residence
- Date of Death
- Funeral Services and Visitation (Day/Date/Time/Location)
- Place or burial or cremation
- Sisters and brothers
- Grandchildren (named or numbered)
- Great-grandchildren (numbered)
- Other relatives and friends
The surviving relatives listed above may be listed by name. Other relatives who will not be mentioned by name may be included in terms of their relationship to the deceased. For example, the deceased had 5 grandchildren, 8 great-grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and a host of other relatives and friends.
Optional Information could include:
- Place and date of birth
- Employment Information (Employer, years employed, year of retirement)
- Military service
- Special friend or companion
- Names of a deceased spouse, children, parents, brothers and sisters
- Memorial donations or charities
The main daily newspaper in our area is the Star Ledger. The cost of the notice is calculated by the number of lines that appear in the paper. The cost is $12.00 per line for the first 12 lines and $10 per line thereafter. There is a 15-line minimum ($174.) A photo is an additional $36.00. The average notice costs between $200 and $350.
The obituary which is printed on the funeral program and read at the service contains some of the same information for the death notice but is more detailed and often more personal.
The following headings are a general guide. You can select what you would like to include and also what order you would like to use.
- Date and place of birth
- Parents Birth order
- Number of siblings
- Education: schools, graduations dates
- Military service
- Adult residence(s)
- Marriage(s): dates of, place, name of spouse
- Employment: name, positions held, years of employment, year of retirement
- Religious, fraternal, club affiliations; positions held
- Volunteer work
- Hobbies, sports and other interests
- Survivors and predeceased relatives
Is embalming required by law?
No. It is only required if the family wishes a public viewing or visitation. If the family chooses direct cremation, there is usually no embalming.
Do I have to purchase a burial vault or grave liner?
State or local laws do not require that you buy a container to surround the casket in the grave. However, many cemeteries in our area require a vault or liner so that the ground will not sink. Either a burial vault or a grave liner will satisfy these requirements.
Can the funeral home help with insurance claims?
We know that filing insurance claims can be a confusing and time-consuming procedure. We have claim forms and contact information for most insurance companies and we are familiar with how they should be filed. We can fill out the necessary forms and after obtaining claimants’ signatures, we can mail them to the insurance company.