Skip to Content (Press Enter) Skip to Footer (Press Enter)
Tulip Cremation | Buy now, pay later with Affirm. Learn more

What to Do When Someone Dies at Home


What to do when someone dies at home

The first few hours after the death of a loved one can be overwhelming and stressful. If your loved one passed at home, you may not know where to start – especially if it was an unexpected death. As you begin making decisions, you will need to address some items sooner than others. Read on to know which items you should prioritize.

Arrange for a legal pronouncement of death. If the death was expected and your loved one was under hospice care or the care of a physician, call them. The doctor or hospice nurse should be able to pronounce the death. The legal pronouncement will include the time, place, and cause of death. This form is needed to file the death certificate, claim life insurance policies and more.

If the death was unexpected, or you do not have access to your loved one’s physician, call 911. Emergency services will send someone to the home and perform the legal pronouncement or direct your loved one to the care of a county coroner or medical examiner for a post mortem examination. If your loved one has a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) have the document ready.

Find and follow any instructions your loved one may have left. Your loved one may have purchased a funeral plan, prepared a living will, or designated a health care proxy to make decisions after their death.

Find out who is in charge. Before you can make any arrangements, you will need to identify who is in charge of making decisions. If your loved one didn’t leave an advance directive assigning someone to care for their end of life arrangements, the Next of Kin is in charge. To learn more about who the Next of Kin is, read our guide.

Choose between cremation and burial. If your loved one hasn’t left any instructions, you will have to choose between burial and cremation. This is a personal decision that will influence your budget, the memorial service, timeframe, and more. If you need more guidance, bring together key family members to help you make the decision. Consider what your loved one may have wanted, what is in your budget, and what will best help you and your family during this time.

Choose a funeral home. Choose a funeral provider that specializes in the final disposition method you have chosen – either burial or cremation. Though you may feel overwhelmed by this decision, take your time. Consider which services you would like and call a few providers to find the best price.

Arrange to have the funeral home collect your loved one. Once you are ready, call the funeral home you have chosen to collect your loved one. Funeral directors are usually on call 24/7. They will walk you through the process and will send a team to the home in a timely manner.

If you would prefer to spend more time with your loved one before collection, make sure to check local laws and educate yourself on how to care for a body.

Notify family and friends. Once your loved one is in the care of the funeral home you have chosen, you may feel less overwhelmed. When you’re ready, begin making calls to family members and close friends to let them know your loved one has passed. You can easily delegate this task if someone has offered to help.

Locate personal information and helpful documents. When making funeral plans and closing accounts, it will be helpful to have important documents available. Begin locating the following, if possible: social security card, birth certificate, marriage certificate, insurance policies, and bank account information. For a comprehensive list, see our End of Life Guide.

To learn about next steps and funeral arrangements, read more here.

If you are struggling to find a simple, affordable funeral option after an unexpected death, call Tulip’s Family Care Team for more information at (855) 468-8068. Our team of funeral professionals is available 24/7 to answer any of your questions and help you make arrangements in minutes. We offer the most affordable direct cremation option available, and everything can be arranged online or over the phone in just 15 minutes.