What to do When a Parent Passes Away

The loss of a parent is devastating to any family, whether anticipated or sudden.  This loss can shake a family down to their very foundation.  While families need time to grieve and deal with their tremendous pain and emotional loss, there are some practical matters that must be seen to.


The average funeral can cost between $12,000 to $20,000, however this does not have to be.  Always remember that the most important legacy a parent has is their family, and that every dollar spent on a funeral is money you will not have later to pay the household bills or take care of the children.  Do not allow yourself to be pressured by funeral homes or even other loved ones into spending more than you can afford to spend.  There are many affordable and meaningful ways to honor your loved one that will not cause financial hardship to the surviving family. 

Many low-income families are eligible for burial or cremation assistance through the State of Michigan.  Please visit https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-71547_5531-18246–,00.h for more information.

Additionally, the Social Security Office may pay a small one-time fee.  Visit:  https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10008.pdf.


As a matter of course, the funeral home that takes care of the deceased will notify Social Security Administration of the death.  If they have the deceased Social Security Number they will be able to handle this for you.  It is possible to apply for benefits without a death certificate if you are not next of kin, but it is easier to have one, and your children will need one later in life.

You may begin your application on-line and you should do so as soon as possible.  It often takes six to eight weeks to get an appointment, but the payments will go retroactive to the day you initially contact them, provided you have all the information they require. 

Social Security is based on a point system for how long the deceased paid into the system and then is paid out in accordance to how much the deceased paid into the system.  It costs nothing to apply for benefits, so it is always worth checking out.  Please remember that Social Security is not state aid, it is money that was taken from the deceased’s check, an insurance program they paid into to care for their dependents in the event that they became unable to.

For more information go to: https://www.ssa.gov/planners/survivors/howtoapply.html.


Several churches and agencies provide assistance with household bills and food.  Please contact the Salvation Army at 248-443-5500 and tell them your zip code.  They will provide you with the proper church/community center to contact for emergency help.

Please click the links below to view and download PDFs

Fiduciary Proof of Identity (REQUIRED FOR MACOMB ONLY)

Waiver of Fees

Prisoner Participation

Proof of Service

Acceptance of Appointment

Notice of Hearing

Declaration of Intent to Give Notice by Publication

Letter of Guardianship

Petition for Guardianship of A Minor

Order Regarding Appointment

Social History of Minor Guardianship

DHHS Record Check Form