No matter if a death is sudden, or if it something that was a long time coming, the loss of a loved one makes us feel emotional and overwhelmed.  No amount of preparation can fully prepare you for the loss of a loved one. When you are in a heightened emotional state, even the most basic decisions can seem staggering.  The following is a rough guideline of what needs to be done within the first 24 hours after death.  Many people are unsure what steps to take when a death occurs. The necessary steps usually depend on the location and circumstances.  It is important that you understand what can be done, and we want to make sure that you have the necessary information required to make these important decisions.

* Unanticipated death at home or elsewhere
In these situations, you should immediately contact 911; police and emergency medical personnel will then determine the appropriate steps to take. Generally, the authorities (the local coroner or medical examiner) can release the remains directly to Carter-Ricks Funeral Homes, so that preparations may begin or placed in our morgue until all family members are notified.  In some situations, however, the remains may need to be taken to the Medical Examiner's office; this occurs when the cause of death may not yet be known or questionable circumstances are present.  Should the Lincoln County Coroner decide to take a remains to a Medical Examiner for autopsy, the medical examiners used are St. Louis County Medical Examiner, St Louis City Medical Examiner or Boone County Medical Examiner in Columbia, MO. 

* If death occurs in a Health Care Facility
Should the death occur in a hospital or nursing/convalescent home, the medical staff should handle all necessary legal steps. You simply need to inform the institution that Carter-Ricks Funeral Homes is handling the arrangements. Generally the staff will assist you in completing any legal release paperwork. When a death occurs in the larger hospitals or medical centers in the St Louis area, and even though the hospital staff is supposed to notify the funeral home, it is a good idea for a family member to call the funeral home.

* Anticipated death at home
Today, more people with terminal illnesses are more comfortable at home under the care of Hospice in the final stages of their illness. In this situation, you should inform Hospice that Carter-Ricks Funeral Homes is the funeral home of your choice.  Hospice will then supervise the necessary legal requirements and notifications of the doctor.  Since a death will occur at home, the local coroner will have to be notified, which the hospice nurse will handle.  After notification of the coroner, the hospice nurse will make the call to the funeral home.  Often, when someone is faced with a terminal illness, the family will decide to make arrangements in advance - saving them the time and emotional decisions needed at the time of death.

* Death out of area / out-of-state
If the death occurs out of state, you should call Carter-Ricks Funeral Home at (573) 898-2181 or (636)-668-8181.  We can then coordinate the transfer with a local funeral director at the place of death.  Because we are members of several national organizations, we can often save families time and money by making all necessary arrangements.

*Contact the Funeral Home

Once everything has been cleared with the proper authorities or a facility has promised to call the funeral home, you should call the funeral home.  We are here to transport the body, help you obtain a death certificate, and in the event pre-planning was not done, select a casket/urn and arrange the funeral/memorial service.  The funeral director will also help you notify any insurance company(ies) of the deceased to assist with obtaining the proper paperwork.  We are here to help and advise you and will work very hard to relieve the stress and logistics involved in funeral planning.

*Meeting a Funeral Director

You should meet with a us when you are ready to begin to make final arrangements for your loved one.  Deciding on these final arrangements may seem like a very daunting task, especially when you are in heightened emotional state, but we have years of experience dealing with these issues, and strive to ensure everything is accomplished as you have specified and everything goes as smoothly as possible.

*Making Arrangements


 This information will be required to fill out the death certificate and used in the writing of the obituary. You must be sure all information and spelling of names are correct. The State of Missouri currently charges $13.00 for the first death certificate and $10.00 for each additional one. Certified death certificates will be required for:  insurance benefits, property titles, some bank matters, retirement or pension benefits, probate and other legal matters.

Personal Information

  • Legal Name (First, Middle, Last)Address
  • Birth Date
  • Citizenship
  • Birthplace (city or county, state)
  • Father's Name (First, Middle, Last)
  • Mother's Maiden Name (First, Middle, Last)
  • Social Security Number
  • ****(Please bring social security card or written documentation of number)
  • Marital Status
  • Spouse's Name (If wife, give maiden name)
  • Family Members
  • Occupation (Indicate type of work done during most of working life.)
  • Kind of Business/Industry
  • Education - The highest degree or level of school completed at the time of death
  • Church Affiliation, Civic or Fraternal Organizations                                                                
  • Veteran
  • ----Copy of Military Discharge***(very important -  if burial in  National / State VA Cemetery)
  • ----Veterans Administration Claim No #  (if unable to find discharge)


  • Place of Service
  • Minister(s)
  • Music (Musicians and Songs)
  • Cemetery  ( if large cemetery, please bring information on lot or graves)
  • Pallbearers
  • Favorite Scriptures
  • Favorite Poems
  • Memorials
  • Clothing and or articles to be placed in casket
  • Pictures- (1) for newspaper obituary and website and/or (2) To be Displayed in Room or (3) for Video

This is a basic explanation of your options in certain circumstances. If you would like further information, please feel free to call us at 573-898-2181 or 636-668-8181 or email us at carterricks@att.net.

If you wish, you may fill out our plan ahead form and send to us or bring with you at arrangements.

We are here to help and to serve you, and we will be happy to answer any questions that you might have.