Kenneth W. Freitag
N.J. Lic. No. 3666

Christopher K. LaBree
Funeral Director
N.J. Lic. No. 4497


Tel: 856.455.2600
Fax: 856.455.2603

Established 1897
137 W. Commerce St., Bridgeton, NJ 08302

William F. Garrison
Founder 1897
N.J. Lic. No. 57

William F. Garrison, Jr.
N.J. Lic. No. 79

Florence Garrison Freitag
N.J. Lic. No. 1485

Harry A. Freitag, Jr.
N.J. Lic. No. 2076

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The next few months will be a time for adjustment and reorganization in your life. While there is nothing anyone can do to make these months stress -or worry -free, this Survivor's Guide has been designed to help make this period of change as easy as possible.

We recommend that you read the booklet at your own pace, section by section, and keep it handy for future reference.

At the end of this page you will find a detailed Post-Funeral To-Do Checklist. Use it to keep track of the many detailed tasks you will need to complete over the next few months, such as filing for benefits, name changes and paperwork you will need to fill out to ensure your safety, health and well-being.

Donít hesitate to enlist the help or advice of experts, if needed, particularly regarding legal or financial matters. On the other hand, this is a period of adjustment and it may be a good opportunity to develop some self-help skills to ease your way into a comfortable and independent lifestyle.


Your funeral director can help you in filing for benefits. The funeral director will provide the necessary copies of the death certificate and can assist when filing claims for insurance or Social Security, Veterans, and/or professional or fraternal order benefits. You can ask the funeral director any questions that may arise during this process.

Following are some important things to remember when filing claims on your own or when working with a funeral director:

bulletThe sooner you file the sooner you will start receiving your benefits.
bulletMake certain you have filed for all eligible benefits. Check with all
federal and state social service agencies, employers, insurance companies,
and any other agencies with which the deceased was affiliated.
bulletIf you have doubts or questions about any benefits, contact the appropriate
agency or administration. You also can ask your funeral director to obtain
the information on your behalf.

Social Security Benefits

To obtain your Social Security benefits, you will need to provide the following original or certified documents and information to your local Social Security office:

bulletProof of your age. This can be documented with a copy of your
birth certificate.
bulletThe deceased's W-2 tax forms or the previous year's federal tax
bulletProof of the deceased's support, if applying as a dependent parent,
child or grandchild.
bulletA Social Security card belonging to the deceased or another document
proving the deceased's Social Security number.
bulletYour Social Security card if you are the beneficiary.
bulletA certified copy of your marriage license and copies of divorce papers
if you are not the deceased's first spouse.
bulletA Social Security filing form, which can be obtained from your funeral
director or the nearest Social Security office.
bulletBirth certificates or other proof of age of all dependents.
bulletA copy of the death certificate.
bulletAll bank account and financial information in the deceased's name.

To file for these benefits yourself, call your local Social Security Administration office. It will be listed in your local telephone directory under "Social Security Administration" or "United States Government, Health and Human Services." Applications can be taken over the telephone in most areas. You also can contact the Social Security Administration online at Among the site's detailed, up-to-date information, the booklets Survivors Benefits (Publication No. 05-10084) and Social Security: Understanding the Benefits (Publication No. 05-10024) contain information and instructions about filing for benefits and can be downloaded by clicking on the title.

Please be patient. Because of the large volume of claims being processed at any given time, it may take up to two months for you to start receiving benefits.*

* Note: Social Security benefits will only begin after you have filed for them. If you do not file for benefits as quickly as possible, you may forfeit your benefits for the months that have elapsed since the death.

Veterans' Benefits

The surviving spouse and dependents of a deceased veteran who had received his or her discharge papers are entitled to certain benefits. There are three major benefits available to families of veterans:

bulletPensions or compensations are available for service-connected
and non-service connected deaths. A non-service connected
death pension is available to the widow, widower or dependent
children. If the death was service-related, dependency and indemnity
compensation may be available. Eligibility for these benefits is determined
by the income and marital status of the surviving spouse.
bulletA deceased veteranís family may be eligible for a portion of the burial expenses.
bulletA veteran's family may be eligible for a headstone or a sum made payable
toward a headstone of choice.

Other benefits are available for survivors under additional circumstances. For a copy of the "Federal Benefits for Veterans and Dependents" booklet, write to:

Office of Public Affairs, 810 Vermont Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20420. Information regarding veteran benefits also is available on the Department of Veterans Affairs web site,, and from your local or regional Veteranís Administration office and the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C.

Retirement or Pension Funds

Some businesses transfer pension or retirement accounts to the surviving spouse. Check with the deceased's place of employment or former employer to see if such a policy exists.

Union Benefits

Certain union members' spouses or dependents are entitled to a pension. Check with your local union office for details on pensions that may apply to you.

Professional or Fraternal Organizations

Professional or fraternal organizations have "death benefit" sums or other benefits for a deceased member of the organization or lodge. You should call your local organization to inquire. Regardless of benefits, however, such organizations should be notified of the death. It is customary for news of the death to be printed in their publications or announced at meetings.

Life Insurance

It is not uncommon for life insurance policies to date back many years, especially in the case of older persons. To file life insurance claims, you should first locate all policies issued to the deceased. If you have a primary insurance agent, he or she may be willing to file the claim for you.

Most life insurance policies have no filing deadline. The sooner you file the claim, however, the sooner you will begin receiving benefits. It is wise to have a payment schedule arranged so you can budget expenses above funeral and other initial expenses in monthly sums. Your insurance agent or a bank officer can help you in doing this.

If you and the deceased owned mortgaged real estate together, check with your primary insurance agent or the lending institution holding the deed to the property to determine if there was mortgage insurance.

This also is a good time to update your own life insurance coverage, modifying where necessary and changing the beneficiary on your policy or policies, if needed.

Wills and Estates

Simply stated, a will is a written record of one's preferences for the distribution of personal property after death.

In most states, property that is held in the name of a husband or wife does not need to be filed through probate court. Often, the filing of a document, such as an affidavit or death certificate, will clear the title and show the surviving spouse as the owner of record.

If the decedent had a will, it should be probated as soon as possible. Many states have limitations that require a will to be probated within a certain amount of time. Some states require proof of lost wills, assuming that a legitimate copy can be produced.

In the absence of a will, state laws govern the inheritance of the property. These laws provide for the distribution of property in a fixed manner, according to the state's statutes. If you have specific questions about the laws in your state, you should seek the advice of an attorney.

The federal government levies a tax on estates that are inherited because of a death. Also, many states impose an additional inheritance tax. Both of these taxes are subject to numerous exemptions. For more information on taxes, check the "Estate, Inheritance and Other Taxes" section on Page 5.

Finally, it is important that you get good advice about what should be included in the estate, what taxes will have to be paid, if any, and how to go about administering the estate. In most cases, it will be necessary to consult an attorney. If the deceased had an attorney, check with him or her to see if the deceased left a will, as many attorneys retain an original copy of the wills they prepare for clients. This also would be a good time to think about drawing up your own will or revising the one you have. The death of a spouse generally creates a change in circumstances that may necessitate revisions in your estate plan.


After filing for benefits, you are now ready to take the next step-taking care of all the additional paperwork that must be done over the next few months. The first step is examining any accounts, assets and bills that are in the deceased's name and changing them to the name of the person who will now be responsible. In addition to meeting the legal requirements, correcting this information and placing the responsibility in your hands will help you to further your sense of independence.

While there are many documents to be changed, the following list includes some of the most common. As you read through the list, note any categories that may apply to you so that you will remember to take care of them. The Post-Funeral To-Do Checklist at the back of this booklet is also provided for this purpose.


All checking and savings accounts, stocks, bonds, and safe deposit boxes in the name of the deceased may be frozen upon notification of death. Even if the accounts were in two names, the assets will remain frozen until a valid will or determination of inheritance is produced. Once a chief inheritor has been named, the appropriate accounts must be changed to the correct name. If you are the surviving spouse or child, all the accounts must be changed to your name before becoming valid.

Charge/Credit Cards

You may want to change the name of your charge and credit card accounts, especially if you and the deceased had joint accounts. In most cases, the instructions for changing names will be on the billing statement. Contact information is usually printed on the back of the card, as well.


Any property deeds held by a bank or savings and loan institution must be transferred to the name of the inheritor. Call your loan officer to learn how to make the changes.

Estate, Inheritance and Other Taxes

Estates generally are subject to taxation from two sources: federal estate tax and state inheritance tax. If the total value of the estate exceeds limits set by the government, there is the potential of federal estate taxes. This tax is subject to several exceptions, deductions and exemptions, which can be quite complicated. A surviving spouse is entitled to a federal estate tax marital deduction on estate assets received. Use of this deduction will minimize federal estate taxes. Check with the Internal Revenue Service or a tax attorney for information on eligibility.

Most states levy an inheritance tax, which is somewhat different from the estate tax, but also has numerous exceptions and deductions. You can receive more information from your stateís revenue department.

Federal estate taxes must be filed within nine months to avoid penalties. This makes it important to begin determining the amount due, if any, so you can file within the deadline.

Filing federal estate tax returns and other matters involving estate and inheritance taxes generally can be handled by an attorney who is familiar with estate planning and probate work.

Mutual Funds, and/or Stocks and Bonds

Any such holdings in the deceasedís name must be changed to the inheritor's name. Check with your banker or broker if you own such assets.

Trusts and Trust Funds

Any trust funds would have been arranged through the deceased's bank officer and attorney. Check with them to see if trusts exist.

Automobile Title and Licensing

The title and license registration of the automobiles owned by the deceased must be changed to the name of the person who inherits the vehicles. Make an inquiry in writing to the licensing and title division in your state. Each situation is unique, and each state has different laws governing this procedure. Whenever you make inquiries in writing, be sure to keep a copy for your records.

If the car title is still held by a bank, responsibility for paying the remaining portion of payments also falls to the person inheriting the vehicle.

Utilities, Telephone, and Other Household Accounts

A call or written request to your utility and telephone companies is usually sufficient to have the name on the accounts changed. In some cases, you will need to sign a new signature card at a local office. Many widows choose to have their telephone directory listing under the deceased's name. This can be done if requested after changing the billing name. Initials may also be used in a listing in place of a first name if it makes you more comfortable.


Your personal well-being and safety are the highest priority. Maintaining your health and creating a comfortable, safe environment are two of the most important things you can do to assure a satisfying life after the death of someone you love.

Experts have shown that stress can impact your health and that the months following bereavement are a high-risk time for survivors. It is, therefore, important to be aware of the danger and to take steps to alleviate as much stress as possible as you begin to reorganize your life.

To start with, make a point to eat right, get plenty of sleep, and take care of any health problems you may be having. It can be difficult to take care of yourself when you have so many changes to attend to, but if you are conscious of your own needs, it will be helpful in maintaining your health.

Personal safety also needs to be addressed, both within and outside your home. Further in this section you will find practical advice for accomplishing these things.

Medicare, Medicaid and Health Insurance Supplements

Medical costs can be a significant expense, and few of us, regardless of financial status, are able to shoulder the entire burden. Fortunately, assistance is available.

Medicare. Medicare is the government's health insurance plan for everyone over the age of 65 and, in some cases, disabled persons under 65. The best time to file for Medicare is three months before your 65th birthday. To apply, you will need to take proof of age to your local Social Security office.

Part A of Medicare is provided at no cost to participants. It defrays some of the costs of hospital stays, nursing homes, diagnostic services, home nursing care and psychiatric care.

Part B of Medicare is a voluntary program for which you pay monthly premiums at a low cost compared with private health plans. Part B also includes coverage for surgery and other in-patient and out-patient medical services.

Medicaid. A common misconception about Medicaid is that its use is restricted to welfare recipients. While it is true that Medicaid provides health care to anyone at any age whose income is at or below poverty level, Medicaid also provides coverage for persons over 65 whose Medicare has been exhausted by illness. Check to learn your state's eligibility requirements. For more comprehensive information on Medicare Parts A and B, contact your local Social Security Administration office.

For Medicaid information, contact your stateís public assistance or social services department. If you are over 65 and have not yet filed for benefits, do so immediately. Medicare Part A can be retroactive to 12 months from the date of application; Part B is not retroactive.

A note of caution: Medicare was designed as a base for partial coverage, and payments do not provide all the health insurance protection you will need.

Supplemental Insurance. Even with a supplemental health care plan, you may have some out-of-pocket health and medical expenses. A carefully chosen supplement, however, can certainly help to lower the cost of medical care.

If you do not currently have a health insurance plan, check with several reputable insurance agencies. You will want to compare several different plans. Only you can best determine how much you can afford and what types of coverage will be most beneficial to you. You may want to consider a group plan through an employer or a professional organization to which you belong. Group plans can help to lower your premium payments significantly. It is sometimes possible for survivors to remain on the deceased's group health plan for a period of time after the death. This may sustain you or your dependent children until you obtain employment and have access to a good health insurance plan of your own.

For information on obtaining health insurance coverage, call your state health insurance department office or check the Yellow Pages of your telephone directory.

Medical Check-ups

You may seem to be having more health problems or you just may not feel well during the first few months of bereavement. This is common due to the stress of adjusting to life without someone you love and the restructuring of your life. It is advisable to make an appointment with your family physician even if you are feeling well. The physician can give you a complete check-up and prescribe medication if warranted. If you do not have a physician, now is the time to find one.

An excellent way to find a good doctor in your area is to ask for a referral from the nearest medical school. If you lack this type of facility in your community, you might call a local hospital or ask family and friends for the name of a good practitioner. Keep in mind that you need a doctor you are comfortable talking to, as well as a good diagnostician. While no doctor will be able to listen to all of your adjustment problems, he or she should be aware of the changes in your life in order to have an accurate and comprehensive picture of your health.


If your doctor prescribes medication for a particular condition, take it for the full length of the prescribed dosage. It is easy to discontinue the use of a medication once your symptoms diminish, but your doctor has used his or her best judgment in prescribing the length of time it should be taken, and you should always follow these directions.

Be certain to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking. Under no circumstances should you take someone else's medication. Medications can strengthen or weaken the intended effect, or can combine to form toxic substances, some of which can be extremely dangerous. If you have any questions or concerns, you should contact your physician.

Generic Drugs

Some prescriptions for brand name drugs may be filled with a generic drug containing the same active ingredients. Always request that your doctor indicate when a substitution may be used. Then tell your pharmacist that you would like the least expensive alternative available. The savings will surprise you.

Mixing Alcohol and Sedatives

Warning: Alcohol and sedatives are both central nervous system depressants. If you are depressed, anxious or generally down in the dumps, no depressant is going to help you climb out. While alcohol or sedatives, or worse a combination of the two, might help you to relax and fall asleep at night, they can be dangerous. In fact, combining alcohol and sedatives can even be fatal, and neither will relieve the problems you may be experiencing. Also, both alcohol and sedatives can interrupt the normal sleep patterns you need to allow your body and mind to rest; and both can create a psychological dependency.

Your physician will rarely prescribe sedatives for more than a limited amount of time, unless the anxiety or lack of sleep you are experiencing is threatening your long-term mental or physical health.

Exercise and fresh air are nature's best tranquilizers. A regimen of physical exercise has no bad side effects. If you have a medical condition or physical limitations, or if you are over age 40, check with your physician before starting any new exercise program.

Swimming, jogging, membership in a local YMCA or just walking briskly for a period of time every day can be very beneficial. If you have the funds, many private health clubs provide excellent facilities and supervision; but read contracts and check prices carefully before signing.

Lynn Caine, author of the best-selling book Widow, found a solution to sleepless nights with an exercise bicycle she kept in her bedroom. Whenever she found herself tossing and turning, she'd get up and pedal away until she found herself tired enough to sleep. You also might consider investing in a bicycle that you can take for short pleasure rides or use to run errands. It's an excellent alternative to driving, as well as a good form of exercise.

With any new exercise routine, always start out slowly, or sore muscles and possibly dangerous overexertion may put you out of commission. Plus, if you overexert you will have trouble establishing a regular exercise routine because of unnecessary strain and stiffness.


You may say that you donít feel hungry or that it is too much bother to cook for yourself, but good nutrition and regular meals are important to your overall health.

There are many cookbooks that feature appealing single-portion meals. Or you can make big batches of casseroles, spaghetti sauce or other foods that can be frozen in individual portions.

If you live alone, you may want to shop daily for perishables so that they donít go to waste. Shopping is also a good way to get out of the house, especially on those days when even getting out of bed seems too much effort. Keep a stock of meal-for-one stews and soups on hand. Have someone over for dinner on occasion---perhaps someone who also lives alone--or make plans to go out for dinner. Eat in front of the television or read while eating; but eat balanced meals. If you are on a restrictive diet, make sure you are aware of what you can have and what you should avoid.

If you have trouble finishing large meals, eat smaller meals more frequently or eat smaller portions on a smaller plate. This may make food look more appealing to you. Establish a routine by eating at regular intervals. This does not mean skipping meals during the day and then eating a single meal late at night. Eating right before sleeping taxes your digestive system and may interfere with your rest.

Personal Safety in the Home

This may be a new area of concern for you, particularly if you are living alone for the first time. Check the locks on doors and windows, replacing them if necessary. If you plan to be away from your house for an extended period of time, stop the mail and newspaper services for that period of time. Have a friend or relative check the premises periodically. You might consider investing in a timing device that turns certain lights on automatically each evening.

Keep telephone numbers for police and fire departments next to your telephone, and donít be nervous about using them if necessary. Even if you feel like an alarmist, it is better to be prepared than to wish you had called after the fact.

You may want to install new smoke detectors and a new burglar alarm system. Smoke alarms, in particular, are inexpensive and easy to install with simple tools. If you smoke, do so in a chair with a light on. Never smoke in bed. Use ladders to reach things, not boxes or chairs. Donít use appliances with frayed cords, and donít overload outlets. Donít use electrical appliances near wet surfaces. Know where your circuit breakers are located, and keep candles or a flashlight handy in case of power outages. Be cautious around throw rugs and in the bathroom. It also is a good idea to keep the numbers of reputable repair services near the telephone in case of household emergencies.

Personal Safety Away from Home

Whether you drive or walk to destinations outside your home, take well-traveled and well-lit routes. If you are in a car, keep your windows rolled most of the way up and the doors locked. Have your house keys in hand as you approach your door to avoid fumbling for them. Donít ever carry or display large amounts of cash when making purchases. Carry purses close to your body and wallets in inner coat pockets.

If you should ever be robbed, donít resist. Give up possessions or money without argument or struggle. No amount of monetary loss is worth more than the threat to your personal safety.

Be careful stepping down from curbs or walking in slick or wet weather. And always drive defensively, watching for other drivers' mistakes. If you feel it would be beneficial, you could take a driving refresher course through a local community organization or senior citizens center.


It might seem like a good idea right now to give up the house you lived in with the deceased simply to avoid painful memories, but making such a major decision at this uncertain time may not be wise. Experts advise not moving during the first year of bereavement. The memories may be painful right now, but moving and giving up all those memories at once can be equally as painful.

After a while, if you feel your present residence requires too much upkeep or contains too much space, consider your choices carefully. Contact a real estate broker and have your home appraised to determine its present value. Look at the pros and cons of apartment or condominium living, if you donít want the upkeep of a single-family dwelling. Keep in mind that by renting, you may be giving up some of your privacy and quiet, as well as a yard and the opportunity to build further equity in your home.

If you decide to rent, consider the neighborhood and accessibility carefully, and read all contracts or leases thoroughly so there are no unpleasant surprises later.

As for household maintenance, the responsibility is yours as long as you own the property. Learn to do small maintenance chores yourself, or pay someone to do repairs for you. You should not expect friends or relatives to do them for you for free. You also may find satisfaction in handling maintenance on your own.

You may be faced with the responsibility of owning, operating and maintaining a car for the first time. If you have a mechanic who has worked on your car in the past with no negative incidents, continue using that person, as that mechanic will know your car and its history. Keep a record of all repairs, oil changes and maintenance.

You may want to buy another new or used car. If so, shop carefully. If necessary, take along a friend or family member who knows what to look for, and take a used car to a mechanic you trust before purchasing it. Always take into account mileage, repair records and the resale value of any car you are considering purchasing.

There are transportation alternatives for non-drivers. Most middle-to large-sized cities have public transportation systems that vary in efficiency and cost. There also are volunteer groups that sometimes provide transportation to non-driving seniors, with priority given for medical care recipients.

If you have a friend or neighbor who shops at the same shopping center or grocery store you do, offer to share the cost of gas and go together. This will also assure that you shop on a regular basis and keep well-stocked on food.


Once your affairs are in order, you may find that you have more time on your hands than you've had in the past. Starting a new career, volunteering in your community or continuing your education are some of the options that might interest you.

Your finances may make it necessary for you to work, or it may just seem like a good idea. If you were employed before your loss, it is probably best to keep your current job for a while. The necessity of going to work every morning, even on bad days, can help put your life back into perspective. Changing jobs immediately is another potential situation for stress and adjustment. Chances are, you have enough stress and adjustment for the time being.

Starting a new job can be a frustrating time. If you are entering the job market for the first time or re-entering it after a lengthy absence, realize that, mixed with plenty of good days, there also will be some bad ones. But donít get discouraged; youíll soon get the hang of it.

Even if you are already earning Social Security benefits, you can still work and earn a limited sum without forfeiting your benefits.

One of your concerns about returning to work may be the limitations on employment based on your age. There are laws to help you in this area. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, passed in 1976, prohibits employers of 25 or more from refusing to hire, discharging or in any way discriminating against persons based solely on age.

If you are not sure how to start looking for a job, contact your state's local employment service or, if you are over 65, a senior citizens' service in your community. Ask friends or a former employer for suggestions, or advertise your skills in a local newspaper. If you try to find employment through private employment agencies, you may be required to pay a fee if they locate a job for you, although oftentimes the employer will pay the fee.

Perhaps you are living comfortably on your income, but would like to be more active. Volunteering is an excellent and meaningful way to get into a social situation, while helping your community at the same time. Talk to leaders of religious or civic organizations, local hospitals or schools, or children's homes. They can tell you who needs help and where you can best put your interests and skills to work. If traditional volunteer work doesnít appeal to you, check with your local theatre group, garden club or senior citizen center. Many communities have organizations that match volunteers with specific community needs. Consult your Yellow Pages under "Volunteer."

It's never too late to go back to school and further your education. Perhaps there is a course of study you always wanted to pursue or one you didnít complete. There also may be areas you want to brush up on for career purposes. Vocational and for-credit classes on both high school and college levels are available in most communities. Many times, grants are available for those aged 65 and older, people with limited incomes or raising dependent children, and those with special interests and skills. Your best starting point is a community college, where you can pick up a list of available courses and information on financial assistance.


You need to give yourself time for recreation as well as work. You may find that friendships you shared before your loss are no longer satisfying or comfortable, or that you need to develop some new relationships and interests.

Donít be afraid to take the initiative by inviting acquaintances to your home, to a movie or to join you at a community function. Seek out clubs that sponsor the kinds of recreation you enjoy or in which you would like to participate.

Learn to entertain yourself. While the amount of enjoyment from pursuing independent interests varies from person to person, many find a certain satisfaction from doing things by themselves. Alone and lonely are not the same, and you may find you can entertain yourself as well as others can.

A problem you may encounter is friends and even family members pressuring you to develop romantic relationships before you are ready. These people may seem overbearing, but they have your best interests at heart. Donít be afraid to give them a firm "No" when they attempt to introduce you or pair you up with other singles. It's best not to date until you are comfortable. Some never are.

If/when you do start dating again, you may find your grown children expressing disapproval, or they may try to pressure you into dating. Even young children can play matchmaker. It is easy to be influenced by family regarding what you want, especially during a time of confusion. Keep the lines of communication open, and make sure your family understands your wishes.

Eventually you may consider remarriage, but be sure to take your time. Donít let the loneliness felt in the first few months push you into a relationship you'll regret later. Recovering from a loss is a slow process. Give yourself enough time to resolve your grief or you may find yourself comparing your late spouse to your present spouse, which can undermine the relationship.

Once you give single living a chance, you might decide remarriage isnít for you. Many widows and widowers find that, after a period of adjustment, they enjoy their freedom and new sense of independence.

Above all, donít let your friends and family run your life for you. It is, after all, your life, and it's up to you to make it the best life possible.


Perhaps the previous sentence is the key to this entire booklet: It's your life. It should be lived in whatever fashion and lifestyle you choose. It may not always be perfect, but it's well worth the living if you have patience and confidence. Make decisions at your own pace, and take the steps necessary for your own recovery. The amount of time needed to resolve your grief is a highly personal matter, and the healing process happens slowly over time.

Donít tell yourself that by now you "should" have recovered from your loss. Experts tell us the first year after bereavement is the most difficult, especially during holidays and anniversaries. After the first year, things will gradually become easier.


As a part of your estate planning, you may consider the idea of funeral pre-arrangement. Pre-arrangement is the planning of a funeral service before the time of need. There also are pre-arrangements that include pre-payment, if that will make you feel more comfortable. Either kind of pre-arrangement can be beneficial by:

bulletRelieving family and friends of numerous decisions at a time of need;
bulletBeing transferable if you move; and
bulletLeaving a written guide to be followed, eliminating guesswork..

With pre-paid funeral pre-arrangements:

bulletFunds are set aside now to pay for future funeral services; and
bulletFunds grow to offset the effects of inflation, eliminating added future expense.

Pre-arrangements are easy to make. Simply call your funeral director and make an appointment to discuss your options.


This checklist is provided to help you keep track of the many tasks mentioned in this booklet that you may need to complete following your loss.

Filing for Benefits:

bulletSocial Security Administration
bulletDepartment of Veterans Affairs
bulletRetirement or Pension Funds
bulletUnion Benefits
bulletProfessional or Fraternal Organizations
bulletLife Insurance
bulletWills and Estates

Additional Paperwork (notification of death and name changes)

bulletChecking Account
bulletSavings Account
bulletSafe Deposit Boxes
bulletCharge/credit cards
(savings and loan/titles and deeds to property)
bulletEstate, Inheritance and Other Taxes
(federal and state taxes: estate and inheritance)
bulletMutual Funds and/or Stocks and Bonds
bulletTrusts and Trust Funds
bulletAutomobile Title and Licensing
bulletUtilities, Telephone and Other Household Accounts

Personal Health & Safety

bulletApplication for Medicare or Medicaid, if needed
bulletSupplemental health insurance
bulletMedical check-ups
bulletAll prescriptions updated or disposed of if date has expired
bulletRegular eating habits maintained and kitchen stocked with staple foods
bulletDaily exercise routine started (i.e., walking daily)
bulletLocks on windows and doors checked
bulletFire, police and ambulance numbers posted by telephone
bulletThrow rugs, tiles, stairs, checked for slippery spots
bulletAll light switches in working order
bulletBurglar and smoke alarms installed and working
bulletFurnace filters changed and furnace checked
bulletAutomobiles in good working order and maintenance schedule established
bulletInsurance (change of beneficiary/update policies)
bulletPersonal property


You can download a printable form for your individual personal history.  It will provide your family, funeral director and/or attorney with information that will be needed after your death to complete funeral arrangements and to expedite benefit claims.

Click on the picture to the left to view and/or print the form
Get Adobe Reader You will need the Adobe Acrobat reader to view the form.  If you do not have it, click the picture on the left to download a free copy.


OTHER OGR (Order of the Golden Rule) RESOURCES
(Click on the title to order a printed copy)

Healing Your Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas By Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

Healing the Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas for Families, Friends and Caregivers By Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

Healing Your Grieving Heart for Teens: 100 Practical Ideas By Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

Healing the Grieving Teen's Heart: 100 Practical Ideas for Families, Friends and Caregivers By Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

Healing Your Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas for Kids By Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

Healing the Grieving Child's Heart: 100 Practical Ideas for Families, Friends and Caregivers By Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.

To order any of these books, please contact the International Order of the Golden Rule (OGR) at (800) 637 8030. You can also order these and other books from OGR online at


Consumer's Guide to Health Care, The, Chisaru, Nakamura & Thorup (Little)
Consumerís Handbook, The, Fargis (Hawthorne)
Fight Back! And Don't Get Ripped Off, Horowitz (Harper & Row)
Growing Older, Huyck (Prentice Hall)
Looking Ahead: A Womanís Guide to the Problems and Joys of Aging, Trull, Israel & Israel (Prentice Hall)
New Consumer Survival Kit, The, Geige (Boston, Little)
Other Generation, The, Jones (Prentice Hall)
Time to Enjoy: The Pleasure of Aging, A, Dangott, Kalish (Prentice Hall)

Death and Dying
Death: The Final Stage of Growth, Kubler-Ross: (Prentice-Hall)
Experience of Dying, The, Pattison (Prentice Hall)
They Need to Know How, How to Teach Children About Death, Gordon & Moss (Prentice Hall)
To Live Until We Say Goodbye, Kubler-Ross (Prentice Hall)

Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs, The, Long (Harper & Row)
Peoples' Pharmacy The, Graedon (St. Martinís)
Prescription Drugs and Their Side Effects, Starn (Grossett)
Without Prescription, Dyan (Simon & Schuster)

Estate Planning
Complete Guide to Estate Planning, Gayan (Prentice -Hall)

Home Maintenance and Safety
Fix-It Book, The, Symons (Wilshire)
How to Fix Damn Near Everything, Peterson (Prentice-Hall)

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Nutrition, Reuben (Simon & Schuster)
I Hate to Cook Book, The, Bracken, (NYT Book Co.)
Gourmet Cooking For One (or More), Paris (Atheneum)
Letís Eat Right to Keep Fit, Davis (Harcourt)
Let's Get Well, Davis (Harcourt)
Sugar Blues, Dufty (Chilton)

Stress and Crisis Management
Awakening: Ways to Psycho-Spiritual Growth, Henderson (Prentice-Hall)
Dealing With Crisis, Calhoun, Selby & King (Prentice-Hall)
I Know Whatís Wrong, But I Don't Know What To Do About It, Goldstein, Spraflere & Gershaw (Prentice-Hall)
Managing Anxiety, Koestenbaum (Prentice-Hall)
Relaxation Book, The, Rosen (Prentice-Hall)
Single, Strein (Prentice-Hall)

If you would like a printed version of this
book, please stop by the funeral home and
pick up a free copy.

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