What to Expect

What The death of someone you love can make you feel lost, alone and not sure of where to turn for guidance.  We have put together some information and resources to point you in the right direction.

When You Meet with the Funeral Home

You will need to meet with a funeral home within 24 hours of your loved one's death. Decide if you would like someone to go with you.  Don't be afraid to ask a family member, neighbor or friend.  Chances are,  they will be honored that you asked for their help during this trying time. It needs to be determined who is responsible for making the decisions.  If there are no written documents stating the deceased wishes, the chain of command is as follows.

  • Legal spouse/partner
  • Surviving adult child/children
  • Surviving parent
  • Surviving adult sibling
  • Ex-spouse
  • Parent of minor child

It is very important to include children, friends and other family to be a part of making arrangements.  Even if they don't have legal decision-making rights, their input can be very valuable.

Gather the Necessary Documents

A loss of a loved one is not only an emotional time, there are also many legalities that come with it.  The funeral home director will help and guide you to fill out and file the Death Certificate and Burial or Cremation permit.  To help this go smoothly and quickly please bring the following items belonging to the deceased with you to the funeral home:

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Military discharge papers
  • Funeral pre-arrangements documents (if available)
  • Durable power of attorney for health care
  • Last will and testament and any codicils
  • Revocable living trust

Burial or Cremation

This decision is based on a variety of factors including tradition, personal beliefs, time and cost.

Funeral Merchandise Selection

Whether you choose burial or cremation you will need to choose funeral products. Burial will include the choice of a casket or burial vault.  There will be a selection of caskets to chose from including various wood and metals as well as cloth-covered.  Customization is also an option to further pay tribute to the deceased. Burial vaults are usually required to prevent the settling of the grave by the cemetery.  There are a few options to choose from including the standard vaults or upgraded vaults that will protect the deceased remains longer. If cremation has been the decided upon action, there are also a few choices.  The cremation urn holds the ashes.  These range from a basic model fit to hold the remains until spreading or more ornate ones for display in a place of honor at home. There are items available for further memorialization of the deceased.  Keepsakes come in the form of jewelry and runs.  These allow for more family members to keep cremated remains.

Planning Details

The funeral and/or memorial service is important in order to heal.  The funeral director will sit with you during a planning conference to answer questions and share insights. You will need to decide where the funeral or memorial service will be held.  This could be in the family's church or home, the chapel at the funeral home or a place that was special to the deceased. The date and time will need to be determined.  This will depend on the location that has been chosen. Who will preside over the service?  You can choose your minister or leader of your church.  You could also decide on someone who is comfortable and who you are comfortable with. It is helpful for the funeral director if you prepare a list of people that should be notified of your loved one's passing.

What happens next?

Once real life starts to settle in and all the guests go home, it can be hard to go back to your day-to-day life.  Do not hesitate to call upon the help of a friend or family member.  Take care of yourself by getting plenty of rest and relaxation. Locate essential information about assets and liabilities including insurance policies, accounts and investments. Cancel magazine subscriptions, catalogs, and other items that come regularly. Keep up with paying the bills. File tax returns with the help of an accountant. Consult a lawyer about money issues and to tie up loose ends.

If you have questions about what you should bring with you, or anything else you may need, please contact us.

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