Family Information Guide

Courtesy Considerations

As part of our service to families, we would like to offer specific information relevant to matters after the funeral ceremony. Hopefully, this guideline will save you unnecessary trips and expenses in your search for answers to new questions.

  1. The register book that we offer for the home has loose-leaf pages. We take the pages out of the register books at the funeral home and church services and insert them properly in your book at home.
  2. We hold back a number of memorial folders that are offered at the visitation for the family. This assures them that they will receive some of the folders.
  3. We collect the flower cards and make sure that each card has some identification.
  4. If any pictures were used for the obituary write-up or as a guide for hairdressers, we will return them to the family.
  5. Acknowledgment cards are available as part of our service. The cards are versatile enough for anyone who has sent a flower, food, memorial or performed some helpful act of kindness. It is not necessary to send someone an acknowledgment card who has just signed the register book at the funeral home or residence. Please feel free to come by our office and receive additional acknowledgment cards if needed.
  6. If you would like to give an honorarium (monetary gift) to ministers and musicians, this is a personal decision. This action is a proper consideration when someone has made special time to be with the family or arranged to get off work to participate in the funeral ceremony.
  7. Personal effects such as rings, pins, glasses, clothing, etc. will be returned to the family per their instructions.
  8. Our local newspapers provide special sections for survivors to put bereavement thank-you notices. This is entirely a voluntary act on the family’s part. If you are interested, give the newspaper office a call and inquire about putting a memorial in the newspaper. They will give you all of the details. Many people put these notices in the newspapers in addition to personalized cards to reach a wider number of people who might get overlooked.
  9. Most newspapers usually keep copies of back issues for a period of time after the publishing date. If you are interested in obtaining some copies of the obituary notices, please contact their offices.
  10. Most cemeteries usually remove the flowers from the gravesite within a few days of burial. It is advisable to go and get any artificial or silk flowers that you may want within a couple of days after the committal service.
  11. We hold back any potted plants, wicker baskets, or small vases instead of taking all of the flowers to the cemetery to place on the grave unless specifically told not to hold them. We will hold them in a safe place at the funeral home and deliver them to the home when we make our after-service visit.
  12. As further service to our families, we try to leave our tents over the gravesites several days after the burial. Some cemeteries that provide their own tents may set shorter time periods.

 

Stone markers can usually be obtained from companies like:

Long’s Monument Company

3016 North Graham Street

Charlotte, NC  28206

(704)376-5740

 Social Security

 Lump-Sum Death Benefits– As of September 1981 a new law went into effect regulating the lump-sum death benefit. It is a one-time payment of $255 paid to the surviving spouse only if the deceased worked the minimum required time under Social Security. This payment will not be paid at the surviving spouse’s death except under special circumstances. If you are to receive the lump­ sum death benefit, expect 4 to 6 weeks for delivery. The check will be in the name of the surviving spouse which can be endorsed and cashed.

We will file a death notification form for you that officially notify Social Security of the deceased’s death. This form has taken the place of a death certificate. Although we notify Social Security, it is always best for you to make a personal telephone call or visit their office to inquire about additional survivors benefits.  They are located at:

 

Social Security

(Open 7 AM to 7 PM M-F)

5701 Executive Center Drive Suite 200

Charlotte, NC  28229

(704) 532-8583 or (800) 772-1213

 

Please have the deceased’s social security number ready when calling.

If the deceased was receiving a larger Social Security retirement check than the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse can have his/her next month’s check increased to that amount. This action will require the surviving spouse to make further contact with the nearest Social Security office for some additional paperwork to be arranged. Normally, proof of marriage is required.

If disability checks, support checks, or widow pension assistance are involved or requested; it is advisable to contact your nearest Social Security Office and inquire about this information. Copies of health records, children’s birth certificates, or financial records may be required.

 

Veterans Administration Benefits

We take care of filing the basic burial allowance forms for you if the service person was eligible. A retired wartime veteran (WWI, WWII, Korean Conflict, Vietnam Conflict, and other determined wartime conflicts) is only eligible for a basic burial allowance of $300 plus a plot/interment allowance of $150:

 

  1. If the deceased was entitled to a pension or served for over 20 years in the service. 
  2. If the deceased died while hospitalized or domiciled in a VA medical facility or another facility at VA expense.
  3. If the deceased was discharged or retired from service because of a disability that occurred or was aggravated in the line of duty.

These claims will probably take 6 to 9 weeks before the check is sent to the funeral home.

The Veteran’s Administration will notify the family that the proceeds will be honored or not within several weeks after the funeral service. In most cases, a certified copy of the death certificate will be needed to accompany these papers along with a copy of the funeral expenses.

If the family is interested in a military grave marker provided by the government, widows pension, child support, or other programs under the VA Administration, please make contact with your county VA officer.  You will probably need a certified death certificate.

The addresses and telephone numbers to the VA Service Officers in Mecklenburg    County:

Veteran’s Administration Regional Office

251 North Main Street Federal Building

Winston-Salem, NC  27155

800-827-1000

Death Certificates

You will need certified death certificates for various reasons that we can order for you. These certificates are ordered from the county where the death occurred and cost $10.00 per copy.

 

The Register of Deeds offices are as follows:

Mecklenburg County Health Department

700 East Stonewall Street

Charlotte, NC  28204

704-336-4799

You will need death certificates for processing life insurance claims (the rule of thumb is one certified death certificate per Life Insurance Company). You may need death certificates for changing real estate deeds; automobile titles; brokerage account; IRA’s; and pension funds; etc. Photocopies may or may not work for some purposes.

 

 

Life Insurance

Four items will be needed for processing most life insurance claims:

  1. A certified death certificate
  2. The policy or number to identify the  policy
  3. A claimant’s statement that the life insurance company will provide for the beneficiary to sign (most want the claimant’s social security number and date of birth also).
  4. An assignment form that will allow us to process  the claim for  you

It is best to contact your insurance companies before you receive your death certificates so that the proper claim form will be available. As part of our service, we will process your life insurance claims for you. Please be patient while waiting for claim payoffs. The time required to process these papers may take several weeks or longer. If there is an overage of funds after payment of funeral expenses, we will have a different check made out to you or the deceased’s estate. If there is a balance, we will notify you.

 

Bank Accounts

Banks, savings banks, credit unions, and brokerage firms may put a temporary freeze on the accounts of deceased persons (especially if the accounts are not protected under the new tenants with right-of-survivorship laws in North Carolina). It is advisable to make contact with the individual banks involved and find out their procedures for releasing funds.

 

Traditionally, if an account is frozen by a bank, two items will be needed to release the proceeds:

  1. The Letters of Testamentary Form that you must obtain at the Clerk of Superior Court of the county in which the deceased lived.
  2. A certified copy of the death certificate

The new right-of-survivorship laws are worth checking out if you have not updated your bank or brokerage accounts lately. Recent legislation has now made it possible to have funds transferred to the surviving spouse automatically at death without going through probate proceedings.

If the deceased was receiving a pension check from a private company, the family will need to contact the retirement division of the company involved and inquire about the necessary procedures as to release any funds.

 

Probate Procedures/ Settling the Estate

 If the estate of the deceased involves major assets, the estate will have to be settled.

The Clerk of Superior Court’s are as follows:

Mecklenburg County Clerk of Superior Court

600 East Fourth Street

Charlotte, NC 28202

704–686-0460

 

When contacting the Clerk of Superior Courts, just ask for someone responsible for settling estates.

 

Income Tax Preparations

Check with your accountant about how to handle deaths on income tax returns for both state and federal income tax returns.

 

Funeral Expenses

A copy of the funeral expenses will be given to you during the interim of the funeral. In accordance with our credit policy, our office will mail you a statement if the account balance has not been paid within 15 days. If you have any questions, please let us know

If you have a pre-burial trust fund or insurance pre-need account with us, please realize that a period of time is needed to close-out these accounts by   law.

If there is any overage in a trust fund account, this amount will be made over to the estate of the deceased as required by law. We regret the inconvenience but the N.C. Board of Mortuary Science will not allow us to make out a check in the specific name of an individual.  If there is no estate to be settled, you will have to take this check to your local clerk of superior courts to have it processed for you. This time period may take up to 6 months.

 

Thank you for the trust and confidence that you have placed in Ellington Funeral Services.

If you should need additional information or assistance, please do not hesitate to give us a call at (704) 334-6700 or email us at info@ellingtonfuneralservices.com

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Carl McEwen Ellington Sr.

President of Ellington Funeral Services

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Derek W. Hunter

Sr. Funeral Director

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