Recent Articles

The Death Certificate

It seems that there is always confusion during the arrangement conference when it comes time to order death certificates. When I ask the next of kin if they know how many they would like to purchase, I will usually offer an explanation about reasons death certificates are necessary. At this point, families will respond with a quick answer, or they will begin counting reasons that they do, or do not, need a certain number of them. A death certificate proves dissolution of a decedent’s legal claims on properties and responsibilities over debts. Therefore, anything that is legal, financial, binding, contractually consumable, or requires stewardship or ownership, requires a death certificate. If you are trying to count the number of death certificates you will need to order, it is easier to think in categories. First, consider your decedent’s financial obligations, both positive and negative. These would include bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments, insurance policies, loans, credit cards, dependent children, etc. Second, consider properties your decedent owned or was purchasing. These would include his or her home, rental properties, investment properties, vacation properties, automobiles, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, airplanes, boats, trailers, anything that requires a title, etc. Last of all, consider any utilities for which your loved one was responsible. These would include cell phones, cable, electricity, gas, water, sewer, waste removal, landlines, internet service, secondary property utilities, etc. Quite often families will suggest that they will merely purchase one death certificate and make copies to distribute. The lists above are legal obligations. Legal obligations require legal documentation to dissolve responsibility or ownership; a copy will not suffice. Copies will work for a family member’s journal of family records and history. When considering the purchase of death certificates, it is always better to order at least one more than you think you will need. As one’s privacy is protected while living, so too will one enjoy this right after death. Obtaining additional death certificates later on is not a quick nor necessarily easy process, nor is it available to just anyone. In order to obtain a death certificate after the immediate issue, one must be able to prove immediate kinship. Quite often, this is not convenient. Also, an amount of time involved adds to the frustration of obtaining additional certificates. Continue Reading →

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Death,-Frequent Visitor

Death. It’S A Word That Many People Fear, Some Wish For, And Other Simply Accept As The Final Stage Of This Life While Opening The Mysteries Of What Comes Next. No matter how you view death, the one thing that is certain is that it will eventually visit you. It seems as I get older I am reminded of all those “Old” people I used to hear saying things like, “Well, there are fewer of us than there used to be.” From the late 1980’s and even through today we hear it a lot about the “Greatest Generation”. The word is death is visiting more and more of them. I saw it in my grandparents, and I’ve seen it in my friend’s grandparents pass from that generation, but now the time has come where I’m seeing it more from people I know outside of family. As I said, I’m at that age where there are simply “fewer” of us than there used to be. The other day I picked up a book that many of my friends had signed back in 1997. As I read through the list, I realized over ninety percent of the signers were now dead. I am certainly seeing death as a frequent visitor in my small realm of friends. I guess it’s normal even natural, for people to start thinking about death when they reach this age. I had a harsh reminder recently when a dear friend of mine died. This marks the first year that I have not received multiple telephone calls from him during the annual tax season. My friend did income taxes for people and he always had computer questions, or wanted to be sure that I understood how to do taxes. His calls might be to ensure I got “us” the latest software, or to inform me that his computer would not print. I’d go off to his home, fix the issue and we’d spend a lot of time talking about the new tax laws. My friend died in December. The last time I talked with him was August. Now as I move into the second month of the tax season, I’m finding that the lack of telephone calls from him is depressing. It’s a reminder that he is not here anymore and that he won’t be calling. It’s also a reminder that all our days are numbered just like those tax forms were. So as I contemplate death, I have a firm Christian foundation in where I will go and spend eternity, but that doesn’t stop me from wondering. I find myself adding up the ages of my kids and thinking things like “Well, they will be one hundred in this year or that year”. I realize that as they reach those later years in life it will be long after I’m gone. As I said, I am confident where I will be in that time period, but it doesn’t stop me from wondering what will happen here. Continue Reading →

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Death Stress

I have received many calls this week with questions related to the deaths of actresses Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds. I have referred these inquiries to my articles, “Death Comes in Threes” and “Dying from a Broken Heart” found on my website It just so happens that this week, I served a family who is suffering similar issues. A secondary death within a family is not uncommon. When someone we love dies, our stress levels instantly climb. If we are suffering any ailments, they may at that point exacerbate to a dangerous level. If we have chronic ailments or disease, we should consider notifying our physicians. If we find that we are suffering any changes in our conditions or diseases, immediate action is paramount.  
Survivors should be concerned whenever grief manifests itself as a physical or psychological ailment. If your grief has moved into either of these realms, you are experiencing complications and should consider immediately consulting your physician. Do not delay visiting your physician under such conditions. Continue Reading →

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