Whom to Notify When Someone Dies

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A death in the family means notifying friends and loved ones, but it also means notifying authorities who issue death certificates or pronounce deaths. Learn whom to notify when someone dies from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.

Part of the Video Series: Estate Planning
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Video Transcript

The people you need to notify when somebody dies first and foremost would be of course a funeral home, perhaps the doctor. Interestingly enough most people don't know this, and wouldn't understand it, the person has to be pronounced dead. And in some states it's going to require a corner to pronounce the person dead. It may require a justice of the peace to pronounce the person dead. It may be just a doctor. We need somebody to sign the death certificate. Depending on how they died, that process is going to be easy and quick, it may be more complex. It's going to be easy and simple if somebody dies at a hospital. The hospital is there, it's clear to see how they died, where they died, and the doctor can typically sign off on the death certificate. If somebody dies at home, maybe at home alone, then it may get more complex real quick, because, the cause of death has to be determined, and whether or not this person died of natural causes or unnatural causes. Most of the time of course people die of natural causes, but if there's any indication they died of unnatural causes, suicide, murder, and accident, things like that, that may need to be investigated. The bottom line is, is that the family at the end of the day to do anything legally, is going to need a death certificate. And a death certificate is a certificate issued by some governmental authority that says that this person died this way, and now they're officially dead, and now we can begin the process of legally managing their assets, and legally starting the wheels in place to make sure at the end of the day, the heirs receive their property. The end of the day, that may be a long day. Depending on the complexity, depending on how much planning the deceased may have done. But either way, it's going to start with how did the person die, what should we do then, how do we get the death certificate and get that process going.

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