Who Should You Notify When Someone Dies?

When someone dies various parties must be immediately notified, including:

  • The attending physician, a coroner or medical examiner to officially pronounce the death. If the deceased was in a hospital or other care facility, this is typically arranged by the staff.
  • Local law enforcement should be contacted first if the death was not attended or due to unknown circumstances.
  • Family members or a legal representative of the deceased. They will need to locate the deceased’s pre-arranged funeral plan, if one exists, for direction in how to proceed with funeral arrangements.
  • A Funeral Director to transfer the body from the place of death to a funeral home or comparable care facility. Funeral directors are available through funeral homes and other funeral service
    organizations.

A pre-arranged funeral plan generally specifies the funeral service provider. If one hasn’t been pre-selected, it’s best to make the "first call" to the funeral home, cremation service or other service provider that will handle all the funeral arrangements. This will avoid an additional transportation charge to subsequently have the deceased moved to another service provider.

You can use our Find A Funeral Home / Cemetery to locate a funeral home or other funeral service provider.

Information You Will Need When You Call a Funeral Home

You should have the following information when you contact a funeral home to arrange for a loved one to be removed from the place of death.

  1. Name of the deceased.
  2. Deceased’s residence — Address / City / State / Zip / Phone #.
  3. Deceased’s Social Security Number.
  4. Time of death.
  5. Current location of the body — Facility name / Address / City / State / Zip / Phone #.
  6. Attending physician name and phone #.
  7. Your name.
  8. Your residence — Address / City / State / Zip.
  9. Your telephone #’s — Daytime / Evening.
  10. Your relationship to the deceased.

When Do You Call the Coroner?

Generally, the local Coroner will investigate a death under the following circumstances:

  • Unattended deaths — no licensed physician was in attendance at the time of death or for a continued period prior to death.
  • A physician is unable to state the cause of death.
  • Suspected homicide.
  • Suspected suicide.
  • Accidental death.
  • Suspicious or unusual circumstances are involved.
  • Death occuring during medical procedures.
  • Death due to food, chemicals or drug poisoning.
  • Death suspected to be due to occupational causes.
  • Death suspected to be due to known contagious diseases constituting a public health hazard.
  • Death by drowning, fire, etc.
  • Deaths occuring while in prison or in police custody.
  • Suspected sudden infant death syndrome.

See related topics:

Funeral Planning Steps
Deceased Transportation
Making Funeral Arrangements
Selecting Funeral Products
Making Cemetery Arrangements
Third Party Services
Paying Funeral Costs
Estate, Financial and Administrative Matters
Claiming Death Benefits
Obtaining Death Certificates

Go to Funeral Guide — Index of Topics.