The First Call: Who to Call When Someone Dies

Who to Call when Someone DiesWhen you need to have a loved one’s body removed from the place of death, calling the funeral home is a great place to start. You’ll speak with a Funeral Director to discuss the transfer of the body to a funeral home or comparable care facility (“first call”). 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.

Transporting the Deceased Between Cities. A local Funeral Director will be needed for the first call even if the deceased will be ultimately transferred to another city for funeral ceremonies and/or burial. See also Deceased Transportation.

You can use our Find A Funeral Provider search app to locate a funeral home.

Other First Call Considerations

Depending upon the circumstances, various parties must be immediately notified when someone dies, 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.

Information Required for First Calls

Information you need to provide to the first call Funeral Director and other parties:

  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.

Additional information will be provided when funeral arrangements are made. Go to Print Funeral Planning Guide to print out a guide that contains all the information needed when making funeral arrangements.

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.


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