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What to do When Death Occurs

When a death occurs, it is important to contact the right people. Who you call is going to depend on where the death has taken place and the circumstances.

Steps to Take

Unanticipated Death at Home or Elsewhere

In these situations, immediately call 911. The police and emergency medical personnel will then determine the appropriate steps to be taken. In all cases, the police must notify the Medical Examiner who can release the human remains directly to a funeral home.

Anticipated Death at Home – Hospice Care

If your loved one was home with a terminal illness and under hospice care, you need to notify the hospice nurse or hospice organization. The hospice organization will begin to take care of the necessary legal procedures and based on your loved one’s documented wishes, will contact the funeral home of choice. If they do not have this information they may ask you to choose a funeral home to contact, or recommend one.

Death at an Institution

When death occurs at a hospital, hospice or nursing home, the medical staff should take care of all necessary legal steps and initial calls. In most cases you just need to notify the medical staff of which funeral home you plan on sending your loved one to and sign any necessary release paperwork.

Death Out of State

If the death occurs outside of Arizona, please use the above situations as a guide of who to call. If you have pre-arrangements with us or plan to use our funeral home, you or medical staff may call our toll-free telephone number: (866) 684-1951. We can coordinate transferring your loved one with a funeral director near the place of death.

Being a member of several national associations, San Tan Mountain View Funeral Homes can often save families money when arranging a transfer. If you travel often, it would be wise to let us tell you about our Travel Protection Plan {embed document details} which would cover most transportation costs associated with a death away from home.

What Next?

A death, no matter how anticipated, may leave you feeling shaken or at a loss. It is ok to take time to process what has happened or steady yourself before contacting immediate family or close friends. It is also perfectly acceptable to have another relative or close friend take responsibility for contacting others on your behalf while you await the funeral home to contact you.

Depending on the situation, the funeral home will be calling the medical staff and/or the next of kin for permission to take your loved one into their care. The next of kin will also be asked to supply or verify information about the departed, as well as to set a time to come in to make arrangements.

Schedule a Funeral Arrangement Conference

Within the first 24 hours of your loved one’s passing, you will need to meet with a funeral director to begin the final arrangements. One of our funeral directors is always on call 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Your Loved One’s Final Wishes

It’s important to know who is legally responsible for making the final decisions for a loved one.

If the deceased has not expressed their wishes through a written document such as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, or a Last Will and Testament, where the deceased has designated an agent to fulfill their wishes, then the chain of command is typically as follows:

  • Legal Spouse/Partner
  • Surviving Adult Child/Children
  • Surviving Parent
  • Surviving Adult Sibling
  • Ex-Spouse
  • Parent of Minor Child

Do You Have Questions?

We are happy to answer all your questions in great detail.

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