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Financial and Legal Concerns

The event of a death results in an automatic transfer of both assets and debts from the decedent to another party, possibly you, depending upon your relationship with the deceased person. The information below will help begin the process of defining financial and legal matters. If you have other questions or concerns, please consult an attorney or financial advisor.

Social Security
800-772-1213 or
Contact Social Security Survivor's Benefits to apply for death benefits as soon as possible. This will help make sure that the family receives all benefits to which they may be entitled. Possible benefits include:

Veterans Administration
You may be eligible for limited assistance from Veterans Administration toward burial costs and funeral expenses if the decedent was an honorably discharged veteran.

If the decedent was receiving monthly payments already, you need to notify the VA of the death. The surviving spouse and dependent children of disabled veterans may be entitled to a lump sum of money, monthly payments, and possibly educational and medical assistance.

Death Certificate
When filing paperwork, you will need several copies of the death certificate. You can obtain copies of the death certificate from the County Clerk’s Office in the county in which the decedent died. UMHS is located in Washtenaw County. The Washtenaw county Clerk/Register of Deeds Office can be contacted at 734-222-6720 or .

The funeral director or your local county office can assist with the process, as well.

Funeral expense hardship
If you find yourself without any benefits, with little or no savings and/or income, you may be eligible for help through various resources. Social Security Survivor's Benefits, State Emergency Relief and Veterans Administration offer assistance in many circumstances.

However, another source of help is through your local Department of Human Services. DHS offers emergency burial services for financially eligible individuals. Please contact your local DHS to learn more about this option and to determine if you will be eligible. Check your local telephone book under “State Government” for the DHS office nearest you. You may also check for additional information, as well as current financial eligibility requirements.

Other Financial and Legal Concerns


The following papers may be necessary when filing for various benefits and taking care of financial matters:

The American Association of Retired Persons Web site’s “Grief and Loss” section also is a good source of information.