Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Archive for the category “Everything and Everyone Dies”

State Laws: Estates & Probate from Findlaw

State Laws: Estates & Probate from Findlaw – http://estate.findlaw.com/planning-an-estate/state-laws-estates-probate.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What’s the law on wills in Alaska?
  • What’s the time limit on appointing an executor in Alabama?
  • How can a will be contested in Nevada?

Description:

50-State listing of laws relating to wills and probate. Most states have web pages in plainer language on these subjects. Use the tips in Appendix C, Finding specific information on US States, to find them.

Whatcom [Washington State] County Medical Examiner’s Policy and Procedure Manual

Whatcom [Washington State] County Medical Examiner’s Policy and Procedure Manual – http://www.whatcomcounty.us/DocumentCenter/View/369

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Under what circumstances would a family have no veto over conducting an autopsy?
  • What do medical examiners do at the scene of a homicide?
  • When must deaths be reported to a medical examiner?
  • If someone dies of an apparent heart attack during a bank robbery, must the medical examiner be informed?

Description:

This is a 53 page coroners manual that covers a number of situations, including:

  • Types of Deaths to be Reported to the Medical Examiner
  • Deaths Occuring in Emergency Rooms
  • SIDS Deaths
  • Non-Homicide – Scene Investigation
  • Homicide – Scene Investigation
  • Indigent Remains
  • Personal Property Procedure

Unless you notice specific references to Washington State statutes, it is probably safe to assume that this manual’s policies and procedures are mostly applicable to other jurisdictions. You can find medical examiner’s manuals for other jurisdictions by visiting usa.gov and searching (“medical examiners” manual)

Death of a Volunteer Procedures (Peace Corps)

MS 265 – Death of a Volunteer Procedures (Peace Corps) – http://files.peacecorps.gov/manuals/manual/200_Volunteers/260-269_Trainee_and_Volunteer_Medical_Support/MS_265/Attachment_A.pdf

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Why are Peace Corps staff charged to stand watch over a volunteer’s remains at all times?
  • Who normally accompanies the remains of a Peace Corps volunteer?
  • What information does a Peace Corps Medical Officer have to report on the death of a volunteer?
  • What happens at an in-country memorial service for a Peace Corps volunteer?

Description:

This 14 page guide outlines what needs to be done when a Peace Corps volunteer dies in country.

Navy Retiree Death Notification proceedings

Navy Retiree Death Notification proceedings – http://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/reference/publications/shiftcolors/Pages/reportdeath.aspx

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How long does it take for the Navy to send out a condolence letter after notification a retiree has died?
  • Under what circumstances might a grieving family be sent a bill?
  • When reporting a Navy retiree’s death, who else should be notified?

Description:

These are steps that next of kin of Navy retirees are required to take when their retired relative dies. This is so that retirement benefits can be ended and survivorship benefits begun.

Coast Guard Boston Decedent Affairs pages

Coast Guard Boston Decedent Affairs pages – http://www.uscg.mil/hswlBoston/decedent_affairs.asp – DEAD URL/Excluded from Wayback Machine.

2014 Update – CG Boston removed their Decedent Affairs page, but you can find similar information at CG Alameda – http://www.uscg.mil/basealameda/PSD/decedentaffairs.asp – This page also contains “burial at sea” information for veteran families. 

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What seven things MUST be reported within FOUR hours of the death of a Coast Guard Member?
  • What must be documented by the officer notifying next of kin of the death of a Coast Guard Member?
  • Under what circumstances must a next of kin receive a visit from a Casualty Assistance Calls Officer (CACO)?
  • What happens during a Coast Guard CACO notification visit?
  • How many people are sent to visit next of kin?

Description:

Provides information on procedures followed by the Coast Guard and other military services when an active duty member or dependent dies.

Links to the following resources, among others:

  • Statement of Disposition of Remains – States reimbursement maximums for internment of a military member.
  • CACO Handbook – Reference for Casualty Assistance Calls Officers
  • Casualty Assistance Guide – Reference for Next of Kin upon death of an active duty member
  • Checklist for DAO’s and CACO’s – For death of a regular or reserve member
  • Checklist for Dependent Death
  • CACO Actions broken into phases A through D – Actions/documents to review broken down into 4 time periods from notification to 2 months after death, many tabs in document.
  • Veterans Affairs – Burials and Memorials
  • Personnel Casualty Report Message – Reference to assist with writing message.
  • Personal Effects Inventory and Disposition – Sample Form CG-3853.

Woman Who Staged Fake Funerals as Part of Life Insurance Scam Found Guilty of Federal Fraud Charges

Woman Who Staged Fake Funerals as Part of Life Insurance Scam Found Guilty of Federal Fraud Charges – http://www.fbi.gov/losangeles/press-releases/2010/la080210.htm

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Where can I find a name to research a fake death scam?
  • How much might doctors be offered to issue fake death certificates?

Description:

FBI summary of how Jean Crump forged death certificates and even staged full funerals to collect insurance benefits on living persons.

Story Idea:

An interesting story idea might be to match up people who want to disappear with someone using the fake death scam to collect insurance money, with the policy benefit being the price of ending one’s original identity.

The Case of the Living Dead: Missouri Funeral Home Director Pleads Guilty to Faking Death Claims

The Case of the Living Dead: Missouri Funeral Home Director Pleads Guilty to Faking Death Claims  – http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2005/january

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What motivation is there to fake the deaths of others?
  • How do these schemes come unglued?

Description:

FBI Summary of how Roger Newman collected government burial benefits by turning in death certificates for living people.

Faking Death: Man Thought To Have Drowned While Fishing in Arkansas Arrested in Yankton, South Dakota for Fraud and Embezzlement

Man Thought To Have Drowned While Fishing in Arkansas Arrested in Yankton, South Dakota for Fraud and Embezzlement – http://www.usmarshals.gov/news/chron/2008/082908b.htm

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What proof of of “death” can one devise?
  • What are some of the relationship complications of pretending to be dead?
  • How can financial issues make someone want to fake their death?
  • What should you avoid if you’re intent on creating a new life?

Description:

Brief item from the US Marshalls about a man who got his wife to testify to his “drowning.” A search in a general search engine for Matthew Alan Shepard brought up a long interview in Wired at http://www.wired.com/vanish/2009/08/evans-interview-with-matthew-sheppard-about-disappearing-its-like-dying/ where he talks about his experience and what some of his perceived mistakes were.

Although the Wired interview isn’t government information by any stretch of the imagination, this US Marshall’s press release shows how a government document can be a good start to finding related information.

Faking Death: Florida Man Sentenced for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud

Florida Man Sentenced for Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud – http://www.fbi.gov/minneapolis/press-releases/2011/mp041811.htm

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How can someone faking their own death be caught?
  • What are some non “running for life” reasons to fake one’s own death?

Description:

Brief item from the FBI how a man was reported dead on a trip to Malaysia and wasn’t caught until he tried to renew his US passport in Indonesia five years later. More background can be found by doing a search engine search for Vij Misir.

MedlinePlus Page on End of Life Issues

MedlinePlus Page on End of Life Issues – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/endoflifeissues.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What do doctors base their “you may live ____ months” estimates on?
  • If you are an older patient with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), how likely are you to live out a year?
  • What physically happens when someone dies?
  • How does Social Security treat burial funds?

Description:

This MedlinePlus Topic page is formatted is organized into the following areas:

  • Basics (overviews, latest news)
  • Learn More (coping, specific conditions, related issues)
  • Research (financial issues, clinical trials, research, journal articles)
  • Reference Shelf (Dictionaries/Glossaries, Directories, Organizations, Law and Policy)
  • For You (Children, Patient Handouts)

Useful looking resources include:

  • JAMA Patient Page: Decisions about End-of-Life Care (American Medical Association) – PDF
  • Doctor, How Long Have I Got? (InteliHealth, Harvard Medical School)
  • End of Life Choices – Feeding Tubes and Ventilators (Family Caregiver Alliance)
  • What Happens When Someone Dies? (National Institute on Aging)
  • Culturally Diverse Communities and End-of-Life Care (American Psychological Association) – PDF

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