family member died in another state
May 29, 2018 8:40 AM   Subscribe

We live in Ohio. My parents (and uncle & aunt) were driving from there to Texas to see my brother. What angles are my siblings and I not covering here? Are there things we're not doing that we should be?

They got into a car accident. Mom died. Dad & aunt were injured and are in University Hospital in San Antonio. Dad has a fractured arm, rib, and vertebrae. Aunt has a broken femur. Uncle was initially thought not badly injured but has since been experiencing neck pain, so we don't know when he will be discharged (they are still doing scans). Dad & aunt have been through surgeries and it seems they are doing as well as can be expected for 70+ year old people. Dad may be discharged soon but wants to stay in San Antonio for aunt & uncle.

Our brother has driven over from his city to stay in an airbnb nearby and is handling matters there, but possibly overwhelmed. Sister and I plan to drive to Texas this Sunday (or earlier, depending on various things), get a bigger airbnb for dad (& uncle + aunt) to recuperate in.

We have googled stuff like what you should do when a family member dies. We think we want to have mom cremated in Texas and bring the ashes back to Ohio. The first step is arranging it with a funeral home/crematorium. Dad expressed wanting a private service in Texas first. The schedule of all of this is contingent on his and aunt's recovery. The funeral home says dad has to authorize the cremation also.

Are there any documents for mom we should bring to Texas? Birth certificates, etc? We have her SSN, we have spoken to their car insurance agent... What about for dad? He is retired and on Medicare, and he was on a lot of medications (previous health problems with heart). We will bring them to Texas.

Aunt & uncle are covered by their travel insurance (they are from another country); their medical procedures, travel back to Dayton etc. will be taken care of.

What aren't we thinking of? What suggestions do you have?
posted by automatic cabinet to Health & Fitness (10 answers total)
Talk to the social worker at the hospital, there may be programs to assist financially with hotel stays, funeral arrangements and other logistcal things. They willalso befamiliar with local laws and timelines for things like getting a death certificate.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:57 AM on May 29, 2018 [7 favorites]

First, my sympathies, this is a terrible situation.

Its coming up on 5 years since my dad died suddenly while on vacation - its still mostly a blur of phone calls and coordination between myself, the travel insurance I am still so unbelievably grateful he had purchased, and my stepmom who both needed to take care of on the ground logistics and get out and back to her home asap.

Your absolute first priority should be your dad - if you can find/bring medical records, prescription copies, etc it would presumably help his current doctors and in his recovery.

You mention the funeral home in your question - I would get back in touch with whomever you spoke to there and ask them what, if anything, you might need and not be thinking of. My experience with both funeral directors (the one who received the body where my dad died and dealt with shipping it home for cremation which was not an option where he had been traveling) was that they were incredibly accommodating and very understanding of my total ignorance for how things operated - this is what they do for a living. Id also ask them what kind of documentation they might require from your dad - it seems unlikely but possible they would want to see a marriage certificate to verify his familial status? again they will be able to tell you what they need.

One thing you didn't mention is finances - if you have or need access to funds in any account that are solely in your moms name it can be a challenge until the paperwork gets worked out. . . if they have joint accounts or plentifully accessible funds in your dads name this may be moot.

Again, terribly sorry that you are dealing with all of this.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 9:01 AM on May 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm so sorry for your loss.

The funeral home in Texas will need all her particulars (SSN, DOB, Address, where she was born, a bunch of other stuff) most of which I knew off the top of my head for my husband but they don't need the actual documents. They just need this info to begin the process of getting the death certificate.

Unfortunately, death certificates in Texas take a notoriously long time, this is especially hard if you want/need to transport the body across state lines because that has to be issued first. If you do plan on cremating her then doing so in Texas and transporting the ashes is likely significantly easier than transporting the body. The funeral home will be able to go over all of this in detail with you.

If your mother was employed reach out to them ASAP, if your father was on her insurance then make sure when you get the COBRA paperwork you fill it out immediately and pay to continue to have him covered by that plan until you can figure out something else.

The funeral home should walk you through getting copies of the death certificates, get a bunch. It is so much easier (and cheaper) to order a bunch now than it is to get more later.

For your father, the hospital is going to want a list of his medications, dosages, and frequency ASAP so they can administer them as well, you can bring your own or they can issue them from the hospital.

For the hospital stays, bring phone chargers, books, crocheting, etc. something to do for the people staying with the person. The person in the hospital sleeps a lot and the person with them has a lot of downtime.
posted by magnetsphere at 9:02 AM on May 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hi. I’m a professional funeral director. Some of the information given above is incorrect. I’m MeMailing you my telephone number. Call me at your convenience and I’ll give you all the info you need. This is the easiest way, as every case is unique.

[on review] Since you don’t use MeMail, feel free to reach out to me by email at
posted by ColdChef at 9:09 AM on May 29, 2018 [74 favorites]

This is terrible, and I'm so sorry.
A thing that will probably seem trivial right now. Since your dad wants a private service in Texas, bring appropriate clothes - for yourselves and your dad, aunt, and uncle if possible.
posted by FencingGal at 9:11 AM on May 29, 2018

Thanks , guys.
Dad was able to tell them his own medications and it sounds like he may be discharged soon (just got off the phone with him). He was also carrying 2 weeks worth himself, but we will bring more down.

Mom and dad were retired and I know that if she receives benefits of any kind we should tell them so they don't keep sending it. However she didn't work very long (she was a stay at home mom for years, worked part time for a while after we grew up) so I'm not really clear on whether she actually receives anything.

We will contact the funeral home again as you suggest. As for the money, I do actually have access to her accounts plus dad does as well, I believe.

@ColdChef - thank you, I enabled MeMail.

Thank you all for the suggestions.
posted by automatic cabinet at 9:13 AM on May 29, 2018 [3 favorites]

Do you and your siblings need to be authorized to receive information about and discuss the details of your father's medical condition in the event of his incapacity? (Or just so as to be present during conversations with doctors)
posted by XMLicious at 10:10 AM on May 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

ColdChef is a great guy and will help you. Get in touch with him as soon as you can.
posted by anastasiav at 10:38 AM on May 29, 2018 [7 favorites]

I am so sorry for your loss.

Your father may do better in a rehabilitation center where he can get physical and occupational therapy in an environment that would be physically safer for him than an Airbnb. Medicare may well cover the cost. When I had to arrange a hospital discharge for a relative on Medicare a few years ago, my relative had to be discharged directly to the rehab center for Medicare to cover the cost. I do not know if that is still the case; a hospital social worker may be able to help you sort out Medicare and rehab center details. Also, I was choosing a rehab center in a city where I did not live. Although the hospital social worker was not supposed to give me information beyond a list of rehab facilities, she quietly told me where she would send her relative in my situation. She gave me good advice.

Perhaps your father, aunt and uncle could be discharged to the same rehab center.
posted by jointhedance at 10:53 AM on May 29, 2018

I am so sorry for your loss and it must be extraordinarily difficult under these circumstances.

I live in Texas. My mother died in Texas and was cremated five days later. The only reason it wasn’t sooner was because she passed on a Friday night. I later transported her ashes through DFW airport. Although I had documentation from the funeral home, I was never asked for it. I did tell the agent at the TSA checkpoint what was in my bag, they did the swab thing with the utmost respect and we were on our way. I did not have to wait for the death certificate. I have also transported the ashes of a friend through DFW with the same experience.

I did not need her birth or death certificate to make arrangements for the cremation. We had to wait until Monday for the county judge to sign off on the cremation. The funeral home handled all of that. I went for one meeting, wrote a check, and went back three days later and picked up the ashes.

I have a friend who personally transported her father’s body from Texas to Oklahoma and she did not have a death certificate yet.
posted by tamitang at 4:31 PM on May 29, 2018

« Older Our cat is pooping on my new flatmate's stuff....   |   The US-Canadian Border and Plate Techtonics Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments