What happens when a loved one dies?
- An aid for survivors

When someone dies there are many things that need to be done by the immediate survivors. Most have little or no experience in all these practical matters. It's common to feel a bit lost, especially as a lot of administrative measures are to be managed. To simplify this we have described what can / should be done when a family member has passed away and the order in which it should be done. Of course, not all possible situations are reviewed but hopefully this can help family members to orient themselves in a difficult time.

When a death occurs a doctor is summoned to confirm that the person is deceased. The doctor issues two certificates: a death certificate which immediately is sent to the Tax Agency (Skatteverket) and the cause of death certificate which is sent within four weeks to Socialstyrelsen. The doctor sends the certificates to the appropriate authorities and you do not need to contact any authority. It usually takes a few days for the Tax Agency to register the death. After the registration is completed anyone can contact the Tax Agency to have a so-called death certificate(Dödsfallsintyg).

Your doctor will make sure that transport is arranged of the deceased to the County Council's morgue. If the family wants to wait for other relatives, the doctor may decide that it is appropriate to allow the deceased to remain in the home for a short time before the deceased is taken to a morgue or cemetery chapel. Jewelry or anything of sentimental value that the deceased is wearing is handed over to relatives or left at home.

If the deceased have any family members, pets or property that needs to be taken care of the one who confirms death will immediately contact the local social authority.

The burial (or cremation) shall, according to Swedish law, take place within a month after death. It may therefore be useful to within a few days after the death contact a funeral home (begravningsbyrå). They usually assist in all the practical details regarding the funeral.

Before meeting with the funeral home, it may be helpful to clarify whether the deceased had any special requests for the funeral. Decisions need to be made regarding the funeral: were it should take place, how the casket should look, if there'll be flowers or decorations, and if it should be advertised in newspapers and so on.

If a church funeral is at hand, the closest survivors will get in touch with a priest with whom the funeral ceremony is discussed. The priest will ask questions about the deceased, such as how he / she was as a person, what he / she liked, etc. It may be a good idea to consider if there is something special that should be said about the deceased person. The priest may also be big support for the survivors in this situation.

Swedish church is the principal of funeral services across the country (except in the city of Stockholm and Tranås municipality where the city / municipality itself is the principal). The principal is responsible for providing gravesite, burial, cremation and local burial ceremony. This is funded by the funeral fee paid through the taxes every year, regardless of membership in the Swedish Church. Swedish Church's other services, however, is free for those who are members.

Funeral homes charge for their services. It is primarily the estate that is responsible for these costs. If the estate doesn’t have the funds to pay for this it is the originator of the service, ie usually one of the survivors, who are responsible that the funeral gets paid. Funeral costs have priority over other expenses of the estate. Other bills should not be paid until the inventory is complete and it is clear that sufficient funds are available. If there are assets of an estate, or if the assets are insufficient to pay the funeral and other expenses in connection with the death, the municipality can help to establish an estate notification. Estate notification will then replace the estate inventory.

Estate inventory
The next step will be to establish an estate inventory. You can read more about that here.

Distribution of an estate
The last step is the distribution of the deceased's assets. You can read more about that here.

Finally, we have a checklist of things that need to be arranged that can easily be forgotten.
One tip is to print the list and check off what is done. (In Swedish)

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