Digging Deep - a guide to cemetery and burial law from the Office of the Vermont Secretary of State.
What if a person dies while away from home, in another city, state, or country?
Contact a funeral provider in your town or city and they can make arrangements for the transfer of the deceased to the location of your choice. You can also arrange for cremation in the city where the person died and have the cremains sent to you or to another location.
Who should be called when a person dies outside of a medical setting?
If the death was anticipated, call hospice, the family doctor and/or the funeral director. Do not call 911, because it can result in an expensive and unnecessary ambulance trip.
If the death was not anticipated, call 911. The medical examiner will be involved in all unexpected deaths.
What happens to a person’s financial assets, possessions, and outstanding debts after death?
If there is a will, the custodian of the will must deposit it with the clerk of the court within 10 days of learning of the person’s death. You may want to consult with an attorney to find out whether a probate proceeding is required.
When probate is required, the personal representative (either named in the will or appointed by the court) is required to notify the beneficiaries of the will, publish a notice to creditors, and other tasks. The representative can also hire an attorney to handle settlement of the estate.
For more information on this process, contact an attorney or the probate court.
What other matters will need to be taken care of after death?
The following will not necessarily apply to everyone, and many funeral homes will assist with these tasks. You should ask yourself if any of the following apply to your situation:
- File any life insurance claims.
- Contact the deceased’s place of employment to ask about any possible benefits.
- Contact Social Security, Veterans Affairs, and other organizations that may provide benefits or that need to be informed of the death.
- Notify banks about accounts, companies about loans, and change property titles (if these tasks were not already done).
- File a final income tax return.
- Get copies of the death certificate to be used in making these types of notifications and claims.
A will or a probate hearing may affect some of these tasks. You may decide to carry out these kinds of tasks yourself, or you may hire an attorney to do so.