Death Happens
What to do?
Who to Call?

What to do When a Death Occurs

A death can occur at any time and be either expected or unexpected. In San Diego county, there are about 19,000 deaths each year and there are many procedures in place to handle the situation. Generally, there are three locations where a passing can occur, each of them is covered in the appropriate section below.

Death Occurs at Home & is Expected

If the deceased was under supervised care when a death at home has been anticipated, you should first contact the hospice program or care provider’s company.  The care organization will arrange to have death officially pronounced and then make arrangements for the removal of the deceased.

We cannot take the deceased into our care until the individual has been officially pronounced dead. Once we have been notified of the passing and removal of the deceased body has been approved by you and the appropriate authorities we are able to arrive quickly to your location – generally within an hour or so. During this time spend some time with your loved one saying goodbye.

Care giver holding patient's hand

Death Occurs at Home  – Unexpected

If the person was NOT under some program care where the death at home was expected, you should call the police (911) – unexpected death.  A police officer will come to your home  and determine if the death needs further investigation or looks to be of natural causes. The medical examiner will be called as a matter of course. If the medical examiner is able to find a medical doctor to sign the death certificate, the medical examiner will allow the deceased person may be transported to our funeral home. The police office will give you a waiver number which we need in order to take your loved one into our care.

After we receive word that is is OK to take the deceased into our care, we move rapidly to come to your residence.  This happens fairly quickly – generally an hour or so – after we are notified, but you will have some time with the deceased while awaiting our arrival.

Death at Hospital / Care Facility

If the passing occurs at a hospital, nursing home or some type of care facility they will take care of all the immediate details and make the necessary calls to the appropriate officials.  They may or may not inform the funeral home, so you should call us if possible to be sure we have been informed.

Funerals Your Way

We are Here to Help
Regardless of when or where a death occurs, it is always best to contact us directly as well, no matter whom you’ve already contacted. We are able to provide you with some advice.

When you do call us we will ask for some basic information about you and the deceased.  One of the first things we try to determine is who will have legal responsibility of making decisions for the deceased.   This is usually the next of kin but the deceased my have assigned a “Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care” to another party. We also have a decedent information form which we may ask you to complete.  It provides us with most of the information required for the death certificate.

We then usually schedule an appointment to come into our office to sign the legal paperwork. This however can be done by email or fax, should that be better for you.

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