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Helpful Guide

We hope this information will be a source of reference for you during and after the funeral or memorial services for your loved one. This information is not a substitute for the professional and personal services you will receive from our staff, but it should serve as a reference.

Funeral Directors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  In the event of the death of a loved one, please allow us to answer any questions you may have, any time of day.

Death Certificates

Marcus D. Brown Funeral Home originates the death certificate by filling in the vital statistics, which you were asked to provide during the initial home visit or consultation by our funeral director. The death certificate is forwarded to the doctor or coroner for signature and the cause of death. After the death certificate is completed by the certifier, it is then ready for certified copies from the local Vital Records Office of the county/state in which the death occurred.  The funeral home will then obtain the initial certified copies requested by the family during the arrangement conference. Most death certificates are available within 10 days, unless the cause is undetermined or the physician is unable to sign the certificate immediately.

This death certificate worksheet lists the information we will need to complete the vital statistics.

Common reasons for needing a certified death certificate:

  • Life Insurance
  • Veteran Benefits
  • Probate Court
  • Social Security
  • State and Federal Tax Returns
  • Individual Stocks/Bonds
  • Bank Accounts
  • Creditors (ex. utility, loan, credit card companies)

*There may be other reasons for needing certified copies, for example, review debts for credit life insurance or other insurance that may cover outstanding balances on credit accounts.

Life Insurance or Pre-funded funerals made through Marcus D. Brown Funeral Home can be handled on behalf of the survivors of the deceased. Whether you are paying for the funeral expenses with life insurance or other means, we can assist you in the filing of insurance policies. If funeral expenses are paid with life insurance we will need to take an assignment for the total amount of the funeral bill. If the insurance policy value is over the amount of the funeral bill, the insurance company will forward the additional benefits to the listed beneficiary.

Information needed to process the insurance claim:

  • Certified Death Certificate
  • Insurance policy or policy number(s)
  • Beneficiary will need to sign the claim forms and assignment
  • Social Security number and date of birth of beneficiary

Some insurance policies are non assignable to funeral homes, (example, Veteran Insurance, State Retirement, and Clemson University). Please check with your insurance company to see if your policy is assignable and if you have a living beneficiary listed. It is always good to name a contingent, in case something happens to the primary beneficiary. If your insurance policy is non assignable to the funeral home, the family will be responsible for the funeral cost. The funeral home accepts cash, certified checks, debit cards, or major credits cards (Visa, Discover, and Master Card). Financial arrangements (verification of insurance and all claim forms signed for insurance processing or full payment) are expected by 12:00 PM, 2 days prior to the funeral service.

Probate Court…Will I need to go?

Yes, you should go to Probate Court, if there is real property (house, car, or money in the bank). Probate is the legal process through which the assets of a deceased person are distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries. South Carolina law provides that Probate Court has original jurisdiction in probate and administration of the decedent’s estate. We encourage you to probate the estate as soon as possible. Many people fear the task of settling an estate, therefore, we are here to assist you in probating the estate.

Each county in South Carolina has a Probate Judge, located in the county courthouse, whose purpose is to assist the family and/or survivors in the distribution of a decedent’s estate. It is best for the family to decide on one member who will serve as personal representative.

When you go to Probate Court, be prepared to pay a $50.00 fee to begin probate. $25.00 is for the Notice to Creditors and $25.00 is a partial probate fee. There may be additional fees, depending on if you are named as personal representative in the will.

If there is no will:

  • The surviving spouse receives 100% of the estate, IF there are no children.
  • If there are children and a surviving spouse, the spouse receives 50% and the children receive 50% divided equally. If there are any predeceased children, their share will go to their children.
  • When there is no surviving spouse, surviving children, or surviving grandchildren, then the parents will receive equal shares.

How to make a Will

Call your lawyer and make an appointment. Make a list of the full names and birthdays of your spouse, children, parents, brothers and sisters. Then list all of your property and prepare a brief outline of what you want to do with it. If it is a very simple Will, you may be able to write it yourself and have two witnesses attest to it, using a form appropriate for your state. If your Will involves complex issues, you should hire an attorney to assist you. Be sure that none of the witnesses you use are mentioned in the Will. Witnesses should be younger than you, in good health, have known you for long time and live nearby.

Preservation of your Will

After you are gone, someone will have the task of probating your Will and carrying out its provisions. To make it easier, fill out the record sheet within this booklet, telling where to find your Will, the affidavits signed by the witnesses to the Will, a list of your real estate, banks accounts, stocks, bonds, safety deposit boxes, insurance policies, cemetery property and your birth certificate. Also, add the name of your lawyer and clergyman. Each of these is important.

You should keep your Will in a location well-known to your family. If you choose to keep it in a safety deposit box, check with your bank concerning your state’s regulations regarding removal of the Will at the time of death.

Probating your Will

The Executor of your Will may want to engage a lawyer to probate the Will, because of the technical issues involved. Your executor may want to check with the Probate Office for helpful, general information on probating a will. The process of probating a Will and settling an estate takes a period of time, the length of which depends on individual state laws.

* This information is intended as a planning guide only and should not be used as substitute for professional legal advice.

In this section

Frequent Questions

Grief Support

Social Security Benefits

Helpful Guide

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