Funeral Planning at Time of a Death in the Family
When making funeral arrangements for a loved one, who do I contact first a funeral home or a cemetery?
At the time of death, you should first obtain the services of a Funeral Director from a funeral home or other funeral service provider. A Funeral Director will address your most immediate need arranging to have the deceased transferred from the place a death to a facility, such as a funeral home, for care and preparation. Funeral Directors can then assist you with all funeral arrangements, including coordination with the cemetery.
The primary role of a cemetery is to provide burial/entombment spaces, merchandise and services. The services of Funeral Directors are generally not available through cemeteries.
When planning ahead making funeral prearrangements, many people start by purchasing cemetery property and then subsequently arrange for the services of a Funeral Director. Merchandise such as caskets, outer burial containers, and grave markers are available through cemeteries, funeral homes as well as specialty retailers.
So, when preplanning, you can make your arrangements in any sequence. And, of course, you can use Funeralwise.com to conveniently put together your funeral plan and find the service providers you need.
Also see Plan a Funeral - Planning Ahead
Why do I need the services of a Funeral Director?
Most people turn to funeral directors for assistance in arranging funerals. They are licensed professionals who manage some, or all, funeral arrangements. Funeral directors help you plan the funeral ceremonies and then direct the ceremonies in accordance with your wishes, including coordinating with the cemetery. They also handle the technical services regarding the care, preparation, presentation, and final disposition of the deceased. And they assist with administrative matters such as filing death certificates, publishing obituaries and filing claims for death benefits.
State regulations govern whether or not a Funeral Director is legally required. Check with your local department of health to find out what the laws are in your area.
What should I expect when I meet with a Funeral Director?
Arranging a funeral involves making a myriad of decisions concerning everything from choosing a final resting place ... to selecting a casket ... to deciding on pallbearers. The process begins with a funeral arrangement conference with a Funeral Director who will guide you through the decision making process.
The main choices that must be made when arranging a funeral include:
1. Method of interment
- Will the deceased be buried or entombed?
- Will the deceased be cremated? If so, will the cremated remains be buried, entombed, scattered or kept by the family?
- Will the body be donated to science? Will organs be donated?
- Will there be a traditional funeral with the casket present and/or a memorial service without the presence of the casket? Will there be an immediate burial or cremation without any ceremonies?
- Where will the ceremonies be held? At a funeral home? At a place of worship? At the graveside?
- Will there be a visitation/wake? If so, will the casket be open or closed?
- Will the deceased be embalmed?
- Should a DNA sample be taken?
- Who will participate in the funeral ceremonies? Clergy? Pallbearers? Speakers? Musicians or vocalists?
- Will the ceremonies feature certain music, readings, or tributes?
- Will there be a procession to the cemetery? Will the deceased be transported in a hearse? Will family travel in a limousine?
Funeralwise.com provides several resources to help you prepare for the arrangement conference.
What information do I need to have available when making funeral arrangements for a loved one?
Your funeral director will need a variety of detailed information to file required notices, prepare an obituary, assist in applying for death benefits, and to manage all funeral arrangements. At a minimum, the
following information should be available:
- Name of the deceased.
- Deceased's residence -- Address / City / State / Zip / Phone #.
- Deceased's Social Security Number.
- Date of death.
- Preferred date(s) of funeral ceremonies.
- Selected cemetery -- Address / City / State / Zip / Phone #.
- Your name, address, phone numbers and relationship to the deceased.
- Name of party that will be responsible for payment of funeral costs along with address, phone numbers and relationship to the deceased.
- Details of military service to apply for veteran's benefits.
- Background on the deceased for obituary purposes special people, significant events and dates, important activities, accomplishments, photograph, etc.
- Names and phone numbers for clergy and other persons who will be participating in funeral ceremonies.
Also see Plan a Funeral - Planning Ahead