What do I do when the death occurs?

The Removal from the place of death:

Death may occur at various institutions including a hospital, nursing home, adult family home, assisted living facility. Death can happen at home or even at the scene of an accident.

Institutional deaths
(such as hospitals and nursing homes)
The nursing supervisor, charge nurse or facility manager will need to know the funeral home of choice. That person will generally call the funeral home when they are ready to release the remains.

Home death or accidental death
In the event of an accidental or an unexpected death, 911 needs to be called and the death reported. The police or the fire department will respond in behalf of the Coroner or Medical Examiner. A determination will be made in the field whether further investigation is required. If not, the funeral home may be called to make the removal. If cause of death is uncertain or questionable, the Coroner or Medical Examiner may make the removal themselves. They will release the body after their investigation is complete. The Coroner or Medical Examiner ultimately has jurisdiction on every death that happens in their county.

Additional Information for your preparedness:

This is not a comprehensive guide to required action to be taken in the event of a death. This list is simply a public service list to help you get started on you own. It should not, for any reason, be misconstrued to be any form of legal advice or guide. We are not responsible for any information contained herein, as it was all gathered by contacting agencies and individuals who are not affiliated with our establishments. Be aware that policies, procedures, addresses, phone numbers, prices, etc. may change without our knowledge despite our attempts to keep this list reasonably up-to-date for your convenience.

Be sure to notify banks of a death. Banking accounts, government bonds, time savings certificates, etc. Transfer all money accounts to your name.

Bank Loans
Installment Contracts: Call each lending institution and inquire if the loans are insured.

Consult an Attorney as Necessary
Many situations require expert legal advice for resolution.

Death Certificates: Certified Copy
A Certified copy of the death certificate is available through the health department of the county where the death occurred. These are colored legal documents with County Registrar’s signature and the State seal. These copies are usually required for legal purposes. Certified copies may be obtained through our Funeral Home, or you may request them on your own at a later date through the health department. The funeral home does not charge a fee for acquiring these documents; we obtain the copies on your behalf as a service to you. However, the County does charge a small fee for each death certificate ordered. We ask that you pay that fee. The cost is $20.00 for each certified copy.

Usually, certified copies of the death certificate are required for insurance, insured loans, stocks or bonds in joint ownership and for real property in joint ownership.

NOTE: You will need to remove the deceased’s name from everything.

Lewis County Health Department
360 NW North St. • Chehalis, WA 98532 • (360)740-1224

Mason County Health Department
426 W. Cedar • Shelton, WA 98584 • (360)427-9670 ext. 400

Thurston County Health Department
412 Lilly Rd. NE • Olympia, WA 98506 • (360)786-5581

Federal Internal Revenue Service
IRS regulations change regularly, it is best to contact the IRS directly for their current regulations.

Home and Real Property
Take a certified death certificate to the Tax Assessor’s Office in the county in which the property is owned.

Lewis County Assessor’s Office
360 NW North St. • Chehalis, WA 98532 • (360)740-1392

Mason County Assessor’s Office
411 N. 5th St., Bldg I • Shelton, WA 98584 • (360)427-9670 ext 491

Thurston County Assessor’s Office
2000 Lakeridge Dr. SW, Bldg. 1 • Olympia, WA 98502 • (360)786-5410

Notify a company agent in the local area, or notify the company itself. Check for coverage at the place of employment, auto medical coverage, health and accident coverage and life insurance. Also be sure to check with all credit card companies regarding possible policies on the account. Call the agent for each or write to the headquarters for the appropriate forms for claims. Make sure you keep a written log of who you spoke with and when so that you can track the claims easier. Fire Insurance: remove the name of the deceased from the policies.

Motor Vehicles
Change title for each vehicle, including boats. Contact the Department of Motor Vehicles at (360) 902-3770.

Safety Deposit Box
If in joint ownership, remove the deceased’s name. If in name of deceased only, inquire with the bank as to what steps need to be taken.

Social Security
Funeral Alternatives of Washington will notify the Social Security Department, the family MUST call Social Security to make an appointment if they are eligible for benefits. Call (800) 772-1213 between 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. The requirements are different for each family so you need to get the information from Social Security in order to apply for benefits. In addition, you can access more information via the website: http://www.ssa.gov

Stocks and Bonds
Write to the stock company and ask about their procedure for transferring stocks into your name.

Veterans Administration
Funeral Alternatives of Washington can help you file for burial benefits and obtain a US Flag for the next of kin. In most cases, the cemetery of choice will file ordering of a Veteran’s marker or cemetery reimbursement. VA Regional Office, Office of Memorial Affairs (Benefits information and assistance) (800) 827-1000

Voter Registration
To cancel an individual’s voter registration, write a cancellation notice stating that the individual is deceased. Voter registration cancellation should be sent to:

Lewis County Auditor’s Office
360 NW North St. • Chehalis, WA 98532 • (360)740-1165

Mason County Auditor’s Office
411 N. 5th St., Bldg • Shelton, WA 98584 • (360)427-9670 ext 470

Thurston County Auditor’s Office
2000 Lakeridge Dr. SW, Bldg. 1 • Olympia, WA 98502 • (360)786-5224