Frequently Asked Questions

What do I do when a death occurs?

Most deaths occur in health care institutions such as hospitals and nursing homes. If the death occurs outside of a health care institution the first task is to notify the authorities. Simply dial 911. They will guide your next actions. At some time, the responding authorities or the staff of the health care facility will ask you which funeral home you wish called.

Who must I tell when the death occurs?

When a death occurs you will need to notify the deceased’s person’s family members and close friends, as well as their employer/business, colleagues, school/college or any other associations they were affiliated with. This is easiest done by telephone.

Try to get a family member to help you, and keep a record of all calls made and received. Make a list of far- away people who will need to be informed by mail and decide what form of notification will take and who will take care of it.

Keep a list of everyone who sends flowers, writes, calls etc. and decide who will acknowledge them. “Thank You” notes may be printed cards or handwritten notes or both. The staff of your chosen funeral home will probably be able to provide cards and other assistance.

Contact the deceased person’s bank. This is especially important if receipts such as Social Security check are deposited automatically, or if mortgage payments and such are make directly from the account.

You will need to find the deceased person’s will and notify their lawyer and/or executor, and also inform any insurance companies. There may be income for survivors to come from insurance policies, or from credit or trade unions, fraternal organizations, the military, etc.

Check for any outstanding debts, such as credit card bills.. Some insurance policies may take care of them, but even so you may need to ask for an extension on payments which oar e coming due to tide you over until the insurance money is paid.

Where appropriate contact the deceased person’s landlord, cancel utilities such as electricity and telephone and give the post office a forwarding address for mail.

What purpose does a funeral serve?

It is the customary way to recognize death and its finality. Funerals are recognized rituals for the living to show respect for the dead and to help survivors begin the grief process.

What is the purpose of embalming?

Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, retards the decomposition process, and enhances the appearance of disfigured by traumatic death or illness. Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, thus allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them.

Does a deceased have to be embalmed, according to law?

No. most states, however, require embalming when death was caused by a reportable contagious disease or when to he/she has to be transported from one state to another by common carrier or if final disposition is not to be made within a prescribed number of hours.

What do you need to bring to the funeral home when making arrangements?

You will need to bring several things with you to the funeral home for the initial arrangement conference, assuming you have them available:

  • The deceased person’s social security number
  • Date and place of birth
  • Education level
  • Name of Father and mother
  • Usual Occupation of deceased
  • Military Service History Summary Form (DD-214)
  • The deed for the cemetery plot or other such paperwork
  • Insurance Policies, etc.
  • Any notes or special requests made by the deceased person
  • The arrangement conference can be an emotionally stressful duty. You may also wish to bring along family members or a close friend whose judgement you trust, and who can support you while you are making arrangements. Choose the ones who care the most.
  • And finally, bring an open mind. Many people do not have much experience in arranging funerals. They may think they know exactly how funerals work based on one or two experiences in another place many years ago. These days the options for funeral services are much greater, and your original ideas may be only the starting point to the ultimate arrangements.

Can I say in advance what I want done with my remains?

Prearranging funeral and cemetery preferences and expenses is the best way of ensuring that your wishes are honored. Just as we prepare a will to ensure that our property is distributed properly, we should prepare instructions to ensure that our wishes regarding our final disposition are followed. In the planning process you will have a chance to research your options and make a well thought out decision.

By planning and contracting with the funeral home and cemetery in advance you accomplish several major goals:
Your survivors will know for sure what your wishes are since your instructions will be in written form. Your survivors will be bound, as a matter of state law, to follow your wishes unless extenuating circumstances prevent it. The funeral home or cemetery will, by law, become your agent in ensuring that your plans are carried out. When you have set money aside to pay for the services your family will not be burdened by the expense nor will they be tempted to alter your plans for financial reasons. Most pre-financing arrangements made with funeral homes either guarantee the final expense or make provision for growth in the account as a hedge against inflation.

If a loved one dies out of state, can the local Funeral Home still help?

Yes, they can assist you with out-of-stare arrangements, either to transfer the remains to another state or from another country.

What should I do if a death occurs while I am away traveling?

Contact us immediately, and let us coordinate with a funeral home in the area where the death has occurred. We will take charge then on and make all the arrangements for transporting the deceased to a local funeral home for embalming and preparation for return to home. You only need contact us with some basic information and call us when you return home to set a time for an arrangement conference.

Who is eligible for monthly Social Security Benefits?

A widow or widower age 30 or older (20 if disabled), or at any age if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled, divorced widow or widower age 60 or older (50 if disabled) if the marriage lasted 10 years, or if caring for an entitled child who is under 16 or disabled: unmarried children up to age 18 (19 if they are attending a primary or secondary school full time) who were disabled before reaching 22, as long as they remained disabled: dependent parent or parents 62 or older.

How may I find out more information and apply for benefits?

You must apply in order to receive benefits. You may apply at any Social Security office or, if you wish, you may apply by telephone. Just dial the toll-free number 1-800-772-1213 and the operator will schedule an appointment for you or arrange for the local Social Security office to take your claim by telephone. You may also visit for more information.

Who is eligible for veterans benefits?

An eligible veteran must have been discharged or separated from active duty under conditions other than dishonorable or have completed the required period of service. Persons entitled to retired pay as a result of 20 years creditable service reserve component are eligible. A U.S. citizen who served in the armed forces of a government allied with the United States in a war also may be eligible. A 1997 law bars persons convicted of federal or state capital crimes from being buried or memorialized in one of the VA national cemeteries or in Arlington National Cemetery.

Spouses and minor children of eligible veterans and of service members also may be buried in a national cemetery, adult children incapable of self-support due to physical or mental disability are eligible for burial. If a surviving spouse of an eligible veteran marries a non veteran, and remarriage was terminated by divorce or death of the non veteran, the spouse is eligible for burial in a national cemetery.

What do the benefits include?

Burial benefits in a VA national cemetery include the gravesite, a headstone or marker, opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care. Many national cemeteries have columbaria or gravesites for cremated remains. Benefits also included are headstones and markers, Presidential memorial certificates, burial flags and Reimbursement of Burial Expenses, depending on the circumstances. Contact should be made to the Veterans Affairs Office to determine what benefits can be claimed and then gather the information required. The National Toll-free number for the Veterans Affairs Office is 800-827-1000

Why do we need Death Certificates for?

Certified Death Certificates are needed for life insurance policies, bank accounts, stocks, bonds, real estate, transactions, pensions, health insurance, 401K or retirement plans, Federal/State income taxes, probation courts & social security administration.