Serving all of Montana, honored to serve you no matter the location.


We’ve provided a list of answers to questions we frequently receive regarding our services and other activities related to death care. If you don't see the answer to your question here, feel free to contact us. We'd be happy to give you more information and clarify any of your concerns.



This checklist is designed to help remind you of the items that you may need your attention after suffering the loss of your loved one.  Not all items listed may apply to you individually.  Notations in certain areas of the sheet may offer brief help or explanation.  Please call on us anytime if we can be of assistance.


 Certified Copies of the Death Certificate

At the arrangement conference, Franzen-Davis Funeral Home will help you to determine the number of Death Certificates you need.  Additional copies can be obtained by contacting the Funeral Home.

A death certificate may not be the document anyone wants to think about, but it does have an important purpose. There are several reasons why you may need to obtain a death certificate, typically to serve as proof for legal purposes. Fortunately, it can be fairly easy for an immediate family member to get a copy of this particular document, especially for the reasons listed below.


Settling Estates – When a loved one dies, settling their estate can be a very long and difficult process. You may need multiple copies of the death certificate in order to claim investments, access bank accounts and real estate holdings. The more complicated the estate, the more copies of the death certificate you may need.

Benefits – In some cases, a spouse or child of an individual who has passed away will be able to claim Medicaid benefits that the deceased was eligible to receive. However, the US Government is very particular about who they will pass these benefits on to—and with good reason. A death certificate and proof of your relationship to the deceased person may be necessary to claim these helpful benefits.

Claiming Life Insurance – If you are the named beneficiary of a life insurance policy, no matter what your relationship to the deceased person was, you will need to produce a government issued copy of the death certificate in order to claim those benefits. The process for claiming life insurance can be slow and painful getting a copy of the death certificate as quickly as possible can help to speed things along.

Pensions – If your spouse passes away, you may be entitled to benefits from his or her pension. However, you will have to provide various items to the company that issues it as proof of the death and of your relationship to the deceased person. One of the most important documents you will need is the death certificate.



Common entities requiring a certified death certificate.


 _____ Social Security Administration Benefits

_____ Beneficiary of a saving's account

_____ Property ownership (residence, land, car, boat, etc.)

_____ Insurance policies (one for each company)

_____ Stocks, bonds, or brokerage accounts

_____ Safe deposit box

_____ Veterans benefits

_____ Union benefits

_____ Internal revenue (send in with next tax return)

_____ Post office to set up mail forwarding to next of kin (when deceased lived alone)

_____ If deceased has a will (please ask your attorney to advise you)

_____ Outstanding loan or credit card balances (some are self-insured)

_____ IRA (Individual Retirement Account)

_____ T - Bills (Treasury Bills)

_____ 401 -K

_____ Pension plans

_____ Proof of attendance at funeral (some employers require it)

_____ For family members to keep for their records



Contact Attorney- Will - Probate

Documents needed by the Attorney include the certified copies of   the death certificates and the Will.  Your attorney will advise you as to any other documentation needed.


Notify Accountant / Financial Advisor /Stockbroker

The above-named individual will advise you of any documentation needed.  Refer to the “Final Tax Return” section.


Notify Banking Institutions

It is recommended that each banking institution, that the deceased had account in, be notified of the death.  A Certified Copy of the Death Certificate may be needed by each bank.  On any outstanding loans, you will want to check to see if there was life insurance carried on them.  If so, your banker will advise and assist you with the details.  You will want to remove the deceased’s name from all joint accounts (checking, savings, safety deposit box and any other that your banker recommends) and sign a new signature card for these accounts.  This is for your protection, should someone try to gain access to these accounts they could not sign the deceased’s name to them to remove any funds.  It is also recommended that if these accounts were held jointly, you may want to continue them to be joint accounts by placing the name of a family member or trusted friend on them with you.  Again, this is for your protection.  Should you become unable to access these accounts the other individual named could for you.


Notify all Credit Card Companies

Cancel and Close all accounts and all cards held individually by the deceased.  Cut these cards and either return them to the company or discard them.  Remove the deceased’s name from all jointly held cards.  This is for your protection.  Apply for credit card life insurance coverage held on the accounts of the deceased. 


Contact Life Insurance Company

The insurance company will require a Certified Copy of the Death Certificate, the Insurance Policy, and a claim form to be completed and signed by the beneficiary.  The claim form will be provided by the insurance company after they are notified of the death.  Should you need assistance completing the form, please feel free to call the Funeral Home for assistance.  You will also want to change those policies which the deceased was named beneficiary.  Generally, the owner of the policy must contact the insurance company to request a change of beneficiary form.  This form is then completed and returned to the company.  They will then return a rider which is attached to the policy showing the changes made.  If you have an insurance agent locally, it is best to contact them for assistance.



 Change all Utilities (Cellphone) from the Deceased’s Name


 Contact all Health Insurance Companies

You should notify the Health Insurance Company to stop coverage of the deceased as of the date of death.


 Contact Automobile Insurance Companies

You should notify the Automobile Insurance Agent of the change of coverage to any and all automobile policies under the deceased’s name.  Your agent will advise you of the proper change needed depending on the ownership changes to the automobiles.    


 Notify Fraternal Organizations of which Deceased was a Member

A Certified Copy of the Death Certificate may be needed to apply for any benefits.


 Review Your Own Insurance Needs

Often, these needs change after the death of a family member or other loved one.  Good organization of your own insurance information can aid survivors at the time this information is needed.


 Keep Extra Copies of Death Certificates to send With Your Income

     Tax Returns

     You may need to file a “final return” for the deceased or estate income tax returns if the estate itself generates any income.


 Call the Social Security Administration

Social Security benefits include a one-time benefit of $255.00 to the surviving spouse or dependent children.  We notify the Social Security Administration, but you must contact them to receive any benefits, we apologize for the inconvenience.


 Veteran’s Administration

Claim forms can be completed at a Veteran’s Administration Office, the funeral home or Veterans Service Commission.  Contact your funeral director to see if this claim has already been filed for you.


Social Security

On behalf of each family we serve Simple Cremation contacts the Social Security Administration to ensure your loved one’s social security number is deactivated. We also make the first step in the application for benefits. Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with this form to ensure you receive benefits due to you.


A surviving spouse or dependent child may receive a special lump-sum death payment of $255 if they meet certain requirements.


Generally, the lump-sum is paid to the surviving spouse who was living in the same household with the worker when they died. If they were living apart, the surviving spouse can still receive the lump-sum if, during the month the worker died, they were already receiving benefits on the worker's record; or became eligible for benefits upon the worker's death.


If there's no eligible surviving spouse, the lump-sum can be paid to the worker's child (or children) if, during the month the worker died, the child: was already receiving benefits on the worker's record; or became eligible for benefits upon the worker's death.


If the eligible surviving spouse or child is not currently receiving benefits, they must apply for this payment within two years of the date of death.


For more information about this lump-sum payment, contact your local Social Security office.


Survivors Planner: Survivors Benefits For Your Widow Or Widower Survivors


You probably know people who are receiving Social Security survivor’s benefits because they're a widow or widower. At present, there are about 5 million widows and widowers receiving monthly Social Security benefits based on their deceased spouse's earnings record. And, for many of those survivors, particularly aged women, those benefits are keeping them out of poverty.



Your widow or widower can receive:

      ~  reduced benefits as early as age 60 or full benefits at full retirement age or older.

      ~  benefits as early as age 50 if they're disabled AND their disability started before or within seven years of your death.


        Note: If a widow or widower who is caring for your children receives Social Security benefits, they're still eligible if their disability starts before those payments end or within seven years after they end.


        Widows, widowers, and surviving divorced spouses cannot apply online for survivor’s benefits. If they want to apply for disability benefits on your record, they should contact

Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 to request an appointment.

(If they are deaf or hard of hearing, they should call our TTY number, 1-800-325-0778.)


    If your widow or widower remarries after they reach age 60 (age 50 if disabled), the remarriage will not affect their eligibility for survivors’ benefits.

    Your widow or widower who has not remarried can receive survivor’s benefits at any age if they take care of your child who is under age 16 or is disabled and receives benefits on your record.



Children’s benefits:

Your unmarried children who are under 18 (up to age 19 if attending elementary or secondary school full time) can be eligible to receive Social Security benefits when you die.

And your child can get benefits at any age if they were disabled before age 22 and remain disabled.


When meeting with a social security representative be as prepared as possible.

Bring your marriage certificate, children’s birth certificates and a certified copy of the death certificate.



National Office Contact: 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). See below for local office contact info.




Local social security office contact numbers

Billings: 1-866-895-1795      

Bozeman: 1-877-405-5473        

Butte: 1-888-632-7068       

Great Falls: 1-877-583-4114      

Helena: 1-866-563-9496      

Kalispell: 1-888-487-0150     

Missoula: 1-866-931-9029




What do I do when a death occurs while out of town or away from home?

What do I do when a death occurs while out of town or away from home?

It’s important that you contact the local medical authorities first (as well as the police, if appropriate), and then make sure to give us a call as soon as possible. We will work with you to make the necessary arrangements to get you and your loved one back home as quickly and easily as possible. Calling us will also help you to avoid duplication of efforts and fees.

What do funeral directors do?

What do funeral directors do?

A funeral director is a licensed professional who specializes in all aspects of funerals and related services. They provide support to the family, guide the arrangement of visitations and funeral ceremonies, prepare the deceased according to the family’s wishes, and ensure that everything goes according to plan. They also arrange for the removal and transportation of the deceased throughout the process and assist families with any legal or insurance-related paperwork they might need to file. They’re experienced at recognizing when an individual is having an extremely difficult time coping with a loss and can provide extra support and recommendations for professional help if needed.

Can I still have viewing and funeral services with cremation?

Can I still have viewing and services with cremation?

Definitely! In fact, we encourage you to do so. Choosing cremation only indicates how you’d like to care for your loved one after the service and doesn’t exclude you from celebrating and honoring their life in any way. Whether you’d like to arrange a funeral service before cremation, or wait and hold the service after the cremation, we’re happy to help you design a meaningful service to accompany the cremation.

Why have a viewing?

Why have a viewing?

A viewing — also known as a visitation, wake, or calling hours — can involve an open or closed casket, and is seen as a vital part of the grieving process. Having their loved one present often helps family and friends to accept the reality of their loss, especially for those who may not have seen him or her in a while. The opportunity to come to terms with the death and say a final farewell is an important step on the road to healing.

Can we have a viewing if my loved one has donated organs or had an autopsy?

Can we have a viewing if my loved one has donated organs or had an autopsy?

Yes. Autopsies and organ donation do not affect your ability to have an open-casket viewing.

Can I personalize my service?

Can I personalize my service?

Absolutely! Our staff has years of experience getting to know families and incorporating their loved one’s hobbies, activities, interests, and unique requests into meaningful and memorable services. Don’t hesitate to make a request because you think it might be too “out there” — we’re honored to work with you to create a service that truly reflects and celebrates your loved one’s individual life journey.

Should I bring my children to the funeral service?

Should I bring my children to the service?

You should use your judgment to determine whether your child is old enough to comprehend death, and whether attending the funeral will be meaningful to them. It’s important for children to be allowed to express their grief and share in this important ritual. If you bring young children, explain beforehand what they will see and experience, and make sure that they know the importance of being on their best behavior. If your child becomes cranky or noisy, remove them promptly to avoid disturbing those who are mourning.

What is the purpose of embalming?

What is the purpose of embalming?

In many cases, if you choose to have a viewing before cremation, embalming may be required. Embalming is a process used to sanitize and temporarily preserve the body of a person who has passed away. It also can enhance the appearance of a person that has suffered damage from an accident or illness. By preserving the body through embalming, we can give you and your family time to make personalized and meaningful arrangements.

Is embalming required by law?

Is embalming required by law?

No. Except in rare circumstances, embalming is not required by law. However, most funeral homes do not permit public viewing without embalming. If you opt to not use embalming, usually we can offer a private viewing prior to cremation with minimal preparation excluding embalming.

How long does the cremation process take?

How long does the cremation process take?

This will vary depending on the individual and the casket or container used, but usually takes about 3-5 hours.

How can I be sure that the remains I receive are those of my loved one?

How can I be sure that the remains I receive are those of my loved one?

Cremation of multiple people at the same time is illegal in the U.S. and many other countries, so the cremation chamber is not designed to hold more than one person at a time. In addition, cremation is a regulated process with strict procedures we follow to ensure we’re holding our services to the highest standard possible. All necessary paperwork and fees must be completed with local authorities, and then a checklist is completed at the crematory. A metal disk with a unique ID number accompanies your loved one from the time we receive the person throughout the cremation process, and after cremation occurs we attach the metal disk to the bag containing the ashes. Knowing the level of respect and meticulous care with which we treat your loved one, you can rest assured that you are receiving only your loved one’s ashes.

Where can I scatter my loved one's cremated remains? Are there any restrictions?

Where can I scatter my loved one's cremated remains? Are there any restrictions?

In general, the government does not regulate the scattering of ashes. Most public parks, including national parks, ask that you submit a formal request and may have restrictions on where you can scatter. If you wish to scatter on private land, consult the landowner first. In most cases, as long as you do your due diligence about checking for rules beforehand and are considerate, it’s more of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

What is a columbarium?

What is a columbarium?

A columbarium is a place for the interment of urns containing cremated remains. They’re often located in mausoleums, chapels, or memorial gardens, and contain numerous small compartments, or niches, designed to hold urns.

What can I do to help the bereaved after services?

What can I do to help the bereaved after services?

The grieving process doesn’t end with the funeral, and it will take time for the bereaved to heal. The family will need your support for months to come, so make sure to check in on a regular basis. Drop a note, make a phone call, and continue to invite them when you make social plans; they’ll let you know if and when they are ready to participate. Reach out to the family on special occasions, like birthdays or anniversaries, especially during the first year following their loss.

What should I say when I run into the bereaved in public?

What should I say when I run into the bereaved in public?

What you’ll say depends upon whether or not you’ve already had contact with the bereaved. If you’ve already offered your condolences, or attended the visitation or service, simply greet the bereaved warmly and express an interest in their wellbeing. If this is your first meeting since the death and you’re in a public setting, it’s best not to bring up the death directly. Instead, say something like, “I understand these must be difficult days for you,” and perhaps ask about when might be a good time to visit, or suggest that you meet for lunch.

Simple Cremation Montana
Phone: (406) 410-1321
1414 Euclid Ave., Helena, MT 59601

© Simple Cremation Montana
Crafted with care by Frazer Consultants and TA