Tag Archives: living will

Death Certificates Primer

What is a Death Certificate?

Here at Cremation Society of America, one of the questions most often asked of us is how to order a Death Certificate and why is it required for Direct Cremation.

A Death Certificate is an official document that serves as certified proof that someone has passed away. This document will be necessary for families or loved ones to close accounts, access insurance benefits and take similar legal steps. Death Certificates are also used by governmental agencies to track demographic trends locally and nationwide.

How many Death Certificates do I need?

A family or loved one will need a certified copy of a Death Certificate to close any financial services account or claim any benefit such as insurance proceeds after a loved one passes away. Some companies will require an original to access benefits such as pensions, insurance proceeds or property transfer. Other companies or entities may only require a photocopy/image of the Death Certificate to serve as proof. A good rule of thumb is to expect an original Death Certificate will be require to settle legal issues and a copy may be sufficient to resolve other matters.

The number of death certificates a family needs will depend on the number of assets, benefits and accounts that have been left to them. We recommend that you contact each of the companies/entities involved to confirm whether the company/entity will accept only an original death certificate or a copy of the death certificate.

How do I order a Death Certificate?

Once the death has been registered, Death Certificates can be ordered from several entities, including:

The funeral home or Cremation provider that you choose
The state or county in which the person passed away
An online service such as VitalChek, a Lexis Nexis Company

There are two types of Death Certificates: Informational or Certified:

Informational copies can be ordered by anyone
To get a Certified copy, you must be closely related to the deceased
How long can I expect to wait to receive a Death Certificate?

There can be as many as four parties/entities/agencies involved in processing the first Death Certificate, which means that the time it takes to receive the Certificate may vary. You can expect a state agency to take 3 -6 weeks while a county agency may only take 2-4 weeks.

The following steps are typically required in order to produce a Death Certificate:

The family or Next of Kin provides certain information about the deceased to confirm identity
The primary care physician or attending physician confirms the cause of death to the funeral home or Cremation provider
The funeral home/Cremation provider registers the death in the applicable county or jurisdiction
The Death Certificates are printed and sent by the county or jurisdiction

The family and funeral home/Cremation provider typically provide their respective information within a day and don’t delay the process. If any delays are encountered, it’s usually with the physicians or the applicable county/jurisdiction.

We at Cremation Society of America do everything in our power to make the Death Certificate process as efficient as possible so that you and your family can address the matters at hand.

Call us today to request more information about our Direct Cremations or click here to order your Direct Cremation now using our industry-leading online ordering process.

Estate Planning – How to Get Organized

At Cremation Society of America, we see all-too-often clients who had failed to properly plan for the day that is inevitable for all of us: the day that we pass away. It’s never a pleasant subject and one that most of us would prefer to address at a later date. What happens if that “later date” never arrives?

Sound Estate Planning and gathering of your important documents might very well be the most appreciated final act that you could do for your family. Let’s explore some Estate Planning steps that you can take.

The Need for Estate Planning

Much like a Will, Estate Planning organizes the financial, legal and medical aspects of your life for those who will survive and succeed you. As a matter of fact, a Will is a component of a well-rounded Estate Plan.

As with anything pertaining to legal documents, we at Cremation Society of America strongly suggest that you consult with an attorney who specializes in estate planning and probate issues. This attorney has a fiduciary duty to give you the guidance and representation that you will need to put your estate in order.

Where to Begin?

The best place to start your estate-planning project is to take an inventory of everything of value that you may own,  possess or of which you have a stake or interest. Here are some items that you should include in your list:

  • Your Home/Deed
  • The Deeds to any properties/real estate that you Own
  • Retirement Plans, including 401(K), Pensions, Individual Retirement Accounts (“IRAs”), Social Security benefits, Stock Holdings, etc. – be sure to include any online login credentials needed to access these accounts online
  • Life Insurance Policies or any other vehicles that may pay out benefits upon your death – be sure to include any online login credentials needed to access these accounts online
  • Health Benefits including private insurance, pension benefits, Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans Administration Benefits – your spouse or family may be entitled to these benefits in the event of your death
  • Bank Accounts, Investment Accounts, Stocks, Bonds, etc. – be sure to include any online login credentials needed to access these accounts online
  • List all valuables – jewelry, art, etc.  Be sure to take pictures and keep the pictures in a safe deposit box or in a cloud storage solution that a family member can access.
  • All liabilities such as mortgages, loans, credit cards, anything for which you owe money and may lead to a creditor seeking repayment from your estate

Create or Update Legal Documents

Meet with your attorney to create or update legal documents that will further protect your estate upon your passing. Your attorney’s recommendations may include the following:

  • A Will – include an updated list of beneficiaries
  • Healthcare directives/documents such as Power-Of-Attorney and/or a Living Will
  • Creation of a Trust(s)

Arrange for Long-Term Care

Most people forget that you can also plan for your long-term medical care as part of your estate planning. YOU can set aside assets to pay for your medical, housing, nurse care and related costs up to point of your passing. Be sure to contact a health care planning professional to review your options.

Arrange for End Of Life

Pre-plan your end-of-life arrangements, whether burial or cremation, services, location, cemetery plot – everything that you want in place upon your death because these are questions that only YOU can answer.

Click the link below to download the Cremation Society of America Cremation Planning Guide

Make Sure Your Family can Access Everything that you Collected

All of the work you’ve done above will be for naught if you did not make arrangements for your loved ones to access all of the information that you’ve gathered in your inventory. Here are a few steps to keep in mind:

  • Maintain a list of all current usernames and passwords. Then, make sure that you place that list somewhere where your family or attorney can access it
  • Keep important and legal documents in a secure location such as a safe, vault or safe deposit box. You may also keep these documents with an attorney. Regardless of where you store the documents, be sure to give your family a way to access them
  • Periodically review your documents to keep them up-to-date

As you can see, Estate Planning is another way for you to enjoy peace of mind that your wishes will be honored after you’ve passed away. This is much the same way as how Pre-planning your Direct Cremation delivers peace of mind during a troubling time for your family and friends.

Please contact CSA for more information regarding our Cremations services as well as family resources. We look forward to being of service to you and your family.