Next of Kin – This term is often used when making end of life and funeral arrangement decisions. It can, however, be confusing. Funeral decisions are made by individuals in this order: spouse, adult children (legally adopted or by blood relation), parents, siblings, nieces/nephews, grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins, personal representative outlined in the will, guardian, appointed representative, Medical Examiner. If there is a disagreement between parties that have equal rights to the decision, then a majority is acceptable. This means that if there were three children and two wanted cremation for their widowed mother, but one wanted burial, the mother would be cremated. Be assured that we will strive to get a unanimous decision amongst equals, working with the whole family to get the required signatures. This protects us as well as all the legal next of kin in the final decision making process.
Social Security Link – The funeral director will notify the social security office of any death that has occurred and inform you of any possible death benefit. If the deceased was receiving benefits, the family will need to contact them to report the death. They may ask for a W-2 form, income tax returns or a marriage certificate. If there are minor children surviving, a birth certificate may be required. If you think you may be eligible for survivor benefits, you should contact social security to apply at 1-800-772-1213 or www.socialsecurity.gov
Veterans Benefits – Anyone who was an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Military at the time of their death may be entitled to a number of benefits, including but not necessarily limited too
- Burial in a National Cemetery (the closest to us being Ft Custer in Augusta, MI)
- Burial flag and grave marker
- Partial reimbursement of funeral expenses
- Retired, career service personnel, or disabled veterans may have additional benefits
- Burial with Military Honors
Please contact your funeral service provider or the Veterans Administration at www.va.gov
Insurance – If the deceased had life insurance coverage you need to locate the original policy or the name of the insurance company and policy number if possible. In most cases we can help you process your insurance claims and even take an insurance assignment as a payment guarantee for any services selected. We will need to verify the policy for that to happen. In order to do that we would need to know the name of the beneficiary, their date of birth and social security number. If you wish to process the insurance yourself we can usually get you a claim phone number to call. The choice is yours.
Banks – Contact your bank for its specific procedures in regards to account information or safety deposit box regulations.
Vehicle Registration and Licensing information is available at the local Secretary of State’s Office or go to www.michigan.gov/sos to find out more.
Real Estate transfer of ownership usually goes to the surviving spouse. Other circumstances may require probate action. It will be necessary to register the death at the local Register of Deeds office before any sale of the property or change of ownership can occur. We can help you do that if you wish it.
Stocks and Bonds – contact your broker for proper procedures and ask them how many certified copies of the death certificate they may be needing.
Retirement Accounts – Contact your employer’s HR department for details in processing any benefits or changes.
Call us or email us with any more questions on the above matter or additional areas that we may be of help to you in.
As with any legal matters, it is always advisable that you contact a qualified attorney to assist you.