Understanding the Paperwork of Death

They say only taxes and death are certain for us all. But even if you’ve planned ahead, when you die, there are a number of forms that will need to be filed. Some paperwork you may sign for yourself ahead of time, other forms will be signed by loved ones when the time comes.

The paperwork requirements vary from state to state, so Solace or your chosen funeral home will help you navigate the necessary legal forms. At Solace, our business was created to make things easier for families, so we’ve made our authorization process digital, so you can sign from anywhere, anytime.

Death Certificate

Perhaps the most important paperwork at the end of life is the death certificate. Some say it is the most important legal document in existence. Every state will require a death certificate to be filed.

A death certificate gives legal notice about the deceased to third parties like banks and insurance companies. It also contains nuggets of information of interest to genealogists, public health experts and demographers alike. Questions about your loved one’s profession, military service, education, race or parents’ birthplace will leave a legacy for future research.

It may not be obvious to families why some demographic questions are asked, but the information contained in a death certificate can help each state make decisions about funding and policies and guide decision-makers in the future.

Cremation Authorization

As the title indicates, a cremation authorization gives the OK for proceeding with a cremation which is a final, permanent choice. Each state’s rules about who must sign the form differ. In states like California and Washington, in some instances, a majority of the next of kin must approve. The ranking of the next of kin also differs slightly from state to state. You may sign your own cremation authorization ahead of time, eliminating the need for a family member to do so later.

Additional forms

Some states, like California, require additional paperwork.

Declaration of Disposition

In California, the “declaration of disposition” gives Solace or your chosen funeral home the right to return the remains in the manner approved by the authorized agents

Disclosure of Pre-Need

While Solace does not sell pre-need packages, California requires a form disclosing any pre-need contract or acknowledging you don’t have one.

Declination of Embalming

Embalming is unnecessary for direct cremation. However, California requires confirmation you have declined it.

Checklists and additional resources

Many websites offer checklists for what else to do after a death occurs, including the AARP, Consumer Reports and Legal Voice (Washington State).

The Oregon Funeral Resources and Education site and the Funeral Consumer Alliance are additional resources for those who are investigating the legal requirements surrounding death and disposition.

Solace or your chosen funeral home will help you file your required paperwork. We created our process to make things easier on families and we’ll never have you come into a pointless in-person appointment. You have better things to do like spend time with those around you.

Solace Cremation offers online arrangements for direct cremation services with one flat price and 24/7 customer service. Solace proudly serves the Los Angeles, San Diego, Portland and Seattle metro areas. Learn more.

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