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60 Water Street
| Thurmont, MD 21788
Tel: 1-240-288-1300
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A death has occurred, what do I do now?

If a loved one has passed away, please follow these general guidelines regarding who to call. If you’re not sure just call us and we can give you guidance.

When calling us to report a death please have the following information ready so that we may provide the best and fastest assistance.

• Name of the deceased
• Place of death (both name of facility and/or street address)
• Caller’s name, phone number, and relationship
• Primary Care Physician’s name and phone number
• Is the deceased ready to be taken into our care?
• Did the deceased have any contagious diseases?
• Age
• Weight
• Do you want the funeral director to come right away or schedule a time to arrive (Usually in cases at residences or nursing homes)
• Does the deceased have pre-arrangements with the funeral home?

At a hospital- Contact Black's Funeral Home.

The hospital may have paperwork for you to sign to release the body to our care or conversely we may have to provide you a form to sign to release your loved one to our care.

It is important to note that under federal law hospitals must notify the regional organ procurement organization (OPO) to inform them of a death in the hospital for the purposes of harvesting organs or tissues.

You as the family will directly have to speak with the organ procurement organization (OPO) donation coordinator to authorize or decline to donate organs or tissues. Without this communication release of your loved one will be delayed. Should you decide to donate organs or tissues this will delay our ability to take your loved one into our care.

Additional delays will arise if the death falls under the jurisdiction of the State Medical Examiner or County Coroner and an autopsy or other investigation is to be performed.

At a nursing home- Contact Black's Funeral Home directly.

At a Residence- Deaths at a residence depends on the circumstances surrounding the death…

If the deceased was ON HOSPICE contact the HOSPICE PROGRAM and request a hospice nurse tell them that you believe your loved one has died, and then contact Black's Funeral Home.

If the deceased was NOT ON HOSPICE, call 911 IMMEDIATELY and request the police and Emergency Medical Services for a deceased person, then contact Black's Funeral Home.

It is important that your loved one not be moved, until law enforcement arrives to inspect the scene and examine the deceased to rule out possibility of foul play, accident or suicide.

It will be important to note what time you found your loved one to aide in the police investigation as well as knowing who the primary care doctor of your loved one was.

If it is determined to be a suspicious death by foul play, accident, suicide or the deceased was not under the care of a primary care physician or other medical professional willing to sign the death certificate; the State Medical Examiner or County Coroner will be called in to investigate.

The medical examiner or county coroner may do anything from a scene inspection, blood draw or an autopsy.

Legally families may express objection to an autopsy however under the law the medical examiner or coroner may order autopsy with or without family’s permission to determine the cause and manor of death in cases falling under their jurisdiction.

Deaths in a public place, work place or outside the home- Must be reported to Police and Emergency Medical Services; the State Medical Examiner or County Coroner WILL TAKE CUSTODY OF THE BODY. We will coordinate with the the authorities for the release of the deceased.

Death out of state or country- Contact Black's Funeral Home immediately so we can begin to make arrangements and coordinate with an area funeral home, state and local authorities.

If the death occurred outside of the United States, it is advisable to contact the nearest American Embassy.

You'll also need to notify...

The employer. If the deceased was working, the employer must be notified as soon as possible. Ask about any benefits the deceased was receiving or will receive, including any pay due (including vacation or sick time), disability income, etc. Ask if you or other dependents are still eligible for benefit coverage through the company. Determine whether there is a life insurance policy through the employer, who the beneficiary is, and how to file a claim.

The life insurance company. Look through the deceased's important papers for a life policy. Call the agent or company to determine how to file a claim. Usually the beneficiary (or the beneficiary's guardian, if a minor) must complete the claim forms and related paperwork. You'll need to submit a certified death certificate and a claimant's statement to establish proof of claim. Ask about payment options. You may have a choice between receiving a lump sum or having the company place the money in an interest-bearing account from which you can write checks.

Other organizations: Blacks will contact Social Security and the Veterans Administration (if applicable) on your behalf. You will want to contact any unions, professional or service organizations, or fraternal organizations of which your loved one was a member. He or she may have had life insurance or other benefits through these organizations.

The court. If you were named executor of your loved one's will, you'll need to file a probate case with the court. An attorney is not required, but it may help you to hire one that is experienced in probate. As executor, you'll be responsible for carrying out your loved one's wishes according to the will, paying creditors and balancing the estate. There is no standard time for probate, and it can be complicated and lengthy.

The bank. If you have a joint account with the deceased, you may be able to conduct business as usual depending on how the account was opened. Otherwise, usually only the will's executor or administrator can access the account after providing the required paperwork to the bank. You will need to contact your bank to determine their requirements.


What information should I bring to the arrangement conference?
When you first call the funeral home, you will probably answer a few general questions about funeral plans--some vital statistics about the deceased, whether there was a prearrangement or a will, the decedent's or family's preference for burial or cremation, and possibly your thoughts on what services you'd like to hold. Plans will be finalized when you meet with the funeral director. The following list does not include everything, but it is a general list of things you may want to bring with you to the arrangement conference.

  • Vital information about the decedent--date and place of birth and death, parents' names, names of pre-deceased relatives and survivors, Social Security number, dates of marriages/divorces
  • Highest level of education
  • Occupation
  • Military information including separation or discharge papers (DD-214), if the deceased was a veteran
  • Any information related to a pre-arrangement, if applicable
  • Place of burial or final disposition if a cemetery plot has been purchased
  • Photographs--one or two recent photographs will be used during the embalming and cosmetizing process
  • Names and phone numbers of clergy or celebrants you wish to involve in the ceremonies
  • Clothing, including undergarments and jewelry or glasses you would like the deceased to be viewed wearing
  • Records of life insurance policies

Who should come with me to the arrangement conference?
If you are the only next-of-kin, do not feel like you need to make all the arrangements alone. Families often come to the arrangement conference in groups for moral support and to participate in the funeral experience. However we can only legally take direction from the person(s) with paramount right of disposition. 

If there is more than one person with right of disposition while we want every person to have a say that is entitled we respectfully ask for a spokesperson to be designated to streamline communications and limit possible confusion. 

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