Frequently Asked Questions

Why have a funeral?

Holding a funeral after a loved one dies is a significant event. The process of coming together with family and friends to celebrate the life that was lost and receive support is important on your path to healing. Funerals can serve as a way for people to process the reality of the death and begin working through their grief. Many cultures and religions also see funerals as a traditional way to honor the dead and properly celebrate their life.

What does a funeral director do?

Funeral directors are responsible for everything related to the funeral (and other services) and for caring for the deceased. They work as caregivers with their relationships with families and manage all of the administrative duties surrounding running a business. Funeral directors are licensed professionals who handle a wide variety of tasks and seamlessly plan all of the arrangements, relieving the family from feeling the burden of handling those tasks. These things can include coordinating the removal and transportation of the deceased, completing any required paperwork (such as death certificates and insurance claims), supervision of the funeral or other services), coordinating the final disposition of the remains, and any other details that need to be handled. Funeral directors have a valuable role in helping a family during one of the most difficult times in their lives, and take pride in creating a relationship based on trust, support, guidance, and help.

What do I do when a death occurs?

It can be overwhelming to realize all of the details that must be handled when someone dies. Determining who to contact and what things need to be done immediately can be a challenge. The funeral home should be one of your first calls after a death so that we can help guide and support you through your next steps.

We will collect some vital statistics information from you before our first meeting so that we can complete the required paperwork and order the death certificate. We also inform the Social Security Administration for you and help you gather the information you’ll need to apply for any death benefits you may be eligible for. Please bring the following information about the deceased when you meet with us:

  • Birth Date
  • Birthplace
  • Full names of Mother and Father, including Mother’s maiden name.
  • Social Security Number
  • Marital Status
  • Level of Education
  • Discharge or Claim Number of deceased was a Veteran

You will need multiple copies of the certified death certificate when wrapping up final affairs for the deceased. We will work with you to determine how many copies you may need and order them for you.

Someone will want to notify immediate family members, close friends or anyone who needs to be notified of the death, including any workplaces if the deceased was still employed. You may prefer to have a friend or family member oversee this task. You should also ask a friend or family member to check the mail at the deceased’s residence, collect any packages, or receive any deliveries in the first few days following a death. Don’t forget about caring for any pets or animals, if applicable.

You should contact your preferred clergy if you would like them present at the funeral service to plan a date and time. The funeral home can assist with coordinating service details with the cemetery if you would like a graveside service or traditional burial.

Start planning for what you might want to include in an obituary. This is another task you may choose to ask a family member to help you with. Generally an obituary includes basic information about the deceased’s life, including age, place of birth, cause of death, occupation, educational background, any military service, hobbies they enjoyed, organizations or clubs they belonged to, and a list of surviving relatives. You should also select a photograph if you would like to have one in the obituary. The details for any public services are usually listed in the obituary, along with any requests for donations or gifts made on behalf of the deceased.

When I call, will someone come right away?

This depends on your preferences and what you request. If you ask for immediate assistance, we will be there as soon as possible. For those who wish to have a little more time to say goodbye to your loved one or allow time for family members to arrive, we are happy to postpone our arrival until you are ready.

Should I choose Burial or Cremation?

Whether you select burial or cremation depends on the preference of the family or the wishes of the deceased. It is a very personal choice, but remember that you can still have a traditional funeral or a memorial service to honor the life of your loved one regardless of which method you choose.

Burial of a casket in the ground has historically been the most traditional form of disposition after someone dies. Above ground entombment in a crypt or mausoleum is also an option in many places. The ritual of the customary graveside service and a physical monument like a headstone or grave marker to visit can be very meaningful for some people. Religious or cultural customs and traditions may also influence whether you select a burial or cremation.

Cremation is becoming a more common choice recently due to the comparative affordability versus some burial options and the wide range of flexibility that it allows. Cremation also has the benefit of increasing time for those family members who may need to travel or delay any services until a later date. Cremated remains are usually placed in an urn before going to their final resting place. You may choose to keep an urn above ground in a significant place, or it can be placed in a columbarium or mausoleum at a cemetery. Scattering of ashes is also very common, usually being done in a place of importance to the deceased or somewhere meaningful for the family.

Why have a public viewing?

Many grief support specialists believe that holding a viewing is an important step in starting the grieving process and starting your journey toward healing. Sometimes there are cultural or ethic considerations for holding a viewing. While you are not required to have a viewing, you should consider the wishes of your loved one and what they would have wanted. It can be very important for some family members and loved ones to have a chance to see the person one more time and say goodbye. We can also arrange a private family viewing if that is more fitting for your situation.

What is the purpose of embalming?

Embalming helps preserve the remains and extends the time between death and final disposition, such as burial or cremation. It also cleans and sanitizes the body to help prepare for any viewings or open casket services. Embalming is required if you want to hold a viewing. Choosing to embalm remains can also help provide more time for people traveling to come say their final goodbyes before a burial or cremation.

Does a dead body have to be embalmed, according to law?

Certain funeral arrangements such as a viewing or open casket service require an embalming, but it is generally not mandatory. We will make sure you fully understand your choices regarding embalming and help you make the right selection based on your preferences and wishes. If you do not want to pay for embalming, you may choose a service like direct cremation or immediate burial that does not require it.

Why are funerals so expensive?

A funeral is a major life event, and many of the costs associated with a funeral occur behind the scenes in the work a funeral director and staff do to ease the burden on the family. Hours are spent making arrangements, completing paperwork, coordinating between officials such as doctors, county officials, clergy, vendors, etc. Additionally, there are costs associated with running a 24/7 business such as maintaining facilities, vehicles, insurance, and other overhead expenses. The funeral business is very labor and time intensive and all of these things must be factored into the pricing of services and merchandise.

Do I have to make different funeral arrangements if I choose cremation?

No, choosing a cremation does not determine the type of services you may select. Your services should be based on the preferences of your loved one and the wishes of the family. You can still have the service or services you desire, such as a viewing, funeral, or memorial service, regardless of whether you decide on a burial or a cremation.

What can be done with the cremated remains?

Many people select cremation because it allows a large range of choices when deciding the final disposition of cremated remains. You may inter or bury remains in a traditional cemetery plot, usually in an urn in the ground. Some people select a spot in an above ground columbarium made for urns or a mausoleum with an urn niche. It is also very common for family members to keep an urn or other meaningful keepsake designed to hold cremated remains in a special place in their home. We offer a wide variety of urns and memorial products designed to hold a portion of cremated remains if you would like to see what options are available.

Scattering cremated remains is a popular choice, usually done in a place that was meaningful for the deceased or the family. Remains can usually be scattered on private property or other locations, but we encourage you to research local laws or regulations regarding scattering ashes before doing so. Scattering gardens are also available at several cemeteries if you would like a special place to visit and remember your loved one.

What is memorialization for a cremation?

You can choose a traditional headstone or burial marker if you decide to bury cremated remains in a cemetery plot. Memorial plates are also available for urns being placed in a columbarium or urn niche in a mausoleum. You may also consider a scattering garden or other symbolic place if you wish to have a location to visit when remembering the person you’ve lost.

Can we scatter the cremated remains?

Yes, but we always encourage you to check local laws and regulations regarding scattering cremated remains if you wish to do so in a public place. We can help you with this and plan a beautiful and personalized scattering service based on your loved one’s wishes and preferences, if desired. You can generally scatter cremated remains on private property without any issue, provided it is owned by you or you have permission from the property owner.

If I am cremated, can I be buried with my spouse even if he or she was in a casket?

Yes, cemeteries usually allow an urn with cremated remains to be buried on top of or next to a casket. You may also be able to bury multiple urns in a single burial plot if the cemetery allows it. You should check with your specific cemetery to see what rules and regulations they have in place to determine your options.

What do I need to know about income tax when I lose a spouse?

We recommend contacting your tax professional or family attorney as soon as possible after the death of a spouse to determine your next steps. While this can be an overwhelming time, you should get some peace of mind knowing you have a plan for how to best move forward to protect your finances and estate. If you do not have a designated tax professional or an attorney, the Internal Revenue Service can help you answer specific tax questions with their toll-free phone number .

Is there financial help if I need it?

The burden of paying for a funeral, especially an unexpected one, can be a lot to handle. We are here to help you as much as we can and will assist in exploring options that may be available to you.

You may consider less expensive selections and service options (such as cremation) if you are on a limited budget. We will help you determine the best selections to help keep costs down.

  • Review any insurance policies the deceased may have taken out. Some life insurance policies have clauses with details for paying funeral expenses.
  • The Social Security Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs, or your State Fund may have death benefits available. You should check to see if the deceased is eligible for any financial assistance through these organizations.
  • Local charities, non-profit organizations or religious groups may have options for assistance paying funeral expenses.

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