Planning a funeral


Naturally, people turn to us every day to assist them in planning a funeral. Sometimes it’s because a loved one has recently died, and their need is immediate. Other times, they turn to us because they wish to talk to us about funeral pre-planning. If you're looking to make funeral arrangements ahead of time for either yourself, or for someone you love, consult our plan ahead section.

In this section, we have put together the basics for those of you faced with an immediate need of our services. This includes information on what is involved in planning a funeral, what to expect when you meet with a Funeral Director, and how to select the right funeral products. There is also information on what you can expect after the funeral or memorial service.
However, if you need more in-depth information on funeral planning, and wish to speak to someone directly, we invite you to contact us.
You can click on any of the

buttons on the right to download

our Planning Task and Check List.

What to Expect



The death of someone you love can leave you feeling confused, alone, and unsure where to turn for guidance. This area of our website will guide you in the right direction.
While it’s true that most people do not know what to do when a death has occurred, we believe this to be due to the simple fact that death comes into our lives less often than it did for our ancestors. After all, average life spans are significantly longer today, and our medical services vastly improved.
But there’s a downside too; we can be ill-prepared to deal with a death of a loved one. Death can be expected, and due to a terminal illness, or old age and declining health; or sudden and completely unexpected. Either way, the death of someone you love can leave you feeling lost, alone, and unsure where to turn for guidance.
We believe that making funeral arrangements doesn’t have to add to the stresses of the moment. If you’ve recently experienced such a loss, our staff will guide you in planning a funeral. To reduce funeral expenses, we’ll help you in the selection of an appropriate funeral casket or cremation urn–all while working together to create a meaningful funeral ceremony or memorial service for your loved one.
This area of our website will guide you in the right direction. However, if you have any questions or simply wish to speak to one of our Funeral Directors to share your story and explore your options, please contact us.
When You Meet with the Funeral Home
Chances are, within the first 24 hours of your loved one’s death, you will need to meet with a funeral home to begin the funeral arrangements. While you could choose to meet with us, you could also decide to meet with another funeral provider. Either way, the following information will help you prepare for what is often called “the arrangement conference.”

Without a doubt, this is a difficult time for you and your loved ones. Yet, it’s comforting to know every member of the funeral home staff will be there to do their utmost to make this difficult time a little bit easier. The Funeral Director will guide you in making all the necessary decisions. It’s good to know you are not alone.


Would You Like Someone to Go with You?
Perhaps you’d like another member of the family to come along with you. Or maybe you’d rather have a friend, or close neighbor join you in the first visit to the funeral home. While it’s not necessary to bring someone with you for moral support, it can be very beneficial. Please don’t hesitate to ask someone to join you. Chances are they will be honored at your request, and gladly step up to help you during this time. When you ask, be sure to tell them that if they do not feel comfortable doing so, you’ll understand.


Who is Responsible for Making the Decisions?
It’s important to know exactly who is legally responsible for making the funeral arrangement decisions for a loved one. If the deceased has not expressed their wishes through a written document such as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, or a Last Will and Testament, where the deceased has designated an agent to fulfill their wishes; then the chain of command is commonly as follows:

✓ Legal Spouse/Partner
✓ Surviving Adult Child/Children
✓ Surviving Parent
✓ Surviving Adult Sibling
✓ Ex-Spouse
✓ Parent of Minor Child
The person designated as the responsible party, whoever they may be, needs to be present to make decisions, and sign documents. If you have questions about the accepted kinship-related order of precedence, or are unclear as to who is the responsible person in funeral planning, contact us.


Should Someone Else be Included in Making the Arrangements?
While assigning responsibility is an important part of funeral planning, it’s also very important to include any children, friends, or other family who would like to be a part of arranging the funeral, and perhaps share in the cost of a funeral. Despite the fact that they may not have any legal decision-making rights, their input could be very valuable to the process.

Assisting in making the final funeral arrangement decisions can be very empowering, and help someone come to terms with the loss. If there are people in your life who you feel should be asked to participate, make sure you ask them. They can always decline.


Have You Gathered the Necessary Documents?
Life and death are full of legalities. When a loved one dies, it is not just an emotional matter for those left behind; it is a legal one which requires the timely completion of paperwork. The Funeral Director will tell you that the first step in caring for your loved one involves completing, and filing, the Death Certificate and Burial or Cremation permit.

These documents need to be completed as accurately as possible and if you are not prepared with the necessary information, then most of your initial meeting will be spent retrieving this information.


To assist the funeral home in preparing all the necessary documents, it’s helpful to bring some of the following things with you:

✓ Legal Spouse/Partner
✓ Deceased's Birth Certificate
✓ Deceased's Marriage Certificate
✓ Deceased's Military Discharge papers
✓ Deceased's Funeral pre-arrangements documents (if available)
✓ Deceased Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
✓ Last Will and Testament and any Codicils
✓ Revocable Living Trust

The First Decision: Burial or Cremation?
This is one of the major decisions which must be made when making funeral arrangements, and for most families, the answer depends on a variety of things. For example, if the family has traditionally chosen burial in previous generations, they may again decide to choose earth burial, simply because the family own plots together in a local cemetery.

And sometimes, one or more of the family members may not like the idea of cremation and choose burial. For more information on our burial services, click here.

Cremation, as you may well know, is the accelerated reduction of the remains to ash, traditionally through the process of heat and fire. If you’re considering cremation, we suggest you take the time to learn more here.

We encourage all families to consider whichever option suits them best at the time of need. Should you have any questions, feel free to call or email us. We will be pleased to share our knowledge and expertise with you.


Selecting Funeral Products
Now that you made the vital decision regarding burial or cremation for your loved one, you need to choose the funeral products involved with your choice.

When you choose burial, you’ll need to select a casket, and burial vault. If your preference was cremation, then you'll want to browse our selection of cremation containers and urns.

As you sit with your Funeral Director to plan the funeral or memorial service, he or she will speak with you about personalization pieces and memorialization products. Below is our online catalog of what is available from our funeral home.


Caskets
Commonly, funeral homes have a number of caskets that you can choose from, including cloth-covered caskets, as well as ones made from various woods and metals. It is also possible to customize many of the caskets to pay a fitting tribute to your loved one.


Burial Vaults
Outer burial vaults are usually required by a cemetery to prevent the settling of the grave site, and to facilitate grounds maintenance. Also, many families choose to protect the casket and safeguard their loved one’s remains through the purchase of a burial vault that exceeds cemetery regulations.

Burial vaults range from the standard unlined burial vault, which serves as basic protection from the grave site elements; to lined outer burial vaults.


Cremation Vaults
Basically, a cremation vault acts to protect the urn. If you've chosen to inter a loved one's ashes on the grounds of a cemetery, you'll want to consider the purchase of a cremation vault. The final decision you make will depend on whether you'll plan an in-ground burial (called an "inurnment"), or intend placing the urn in a mausoleum or columbarium.


Cremation Urns
After cremation occurs, the remains will be returned to your family in a relatively-ordinary, temporary plastic container. This container is perfect for keeping the cremated remains for a short time, prior to a scattering ceremony. However, there are many reasons to purchase a more permanent, more elegant cremation urn. These include:
✓ If you plan to have a memorial service where the cremated remains will be present.
✓ If you plan to inter the remains in a columbarium niche where the urn will be visible.
✓ If you wish to keep the cremated remains in a place of honor at home.
Urns are made of numerous materials generally in categories of hardwood, metal or stone. We also offer a selection of unique, temporary urns,and biodegradable urns for those selecting scattering at sea. There are also miniature keepsake urns which will hold a token portion of the cremated remains, a lock of hair, or earth from the grave site.

We offer a wide range of urns, in all price ranges.


Bringing Your Loved One’s Personality into the Service
The funeral or memorial service you plan for a loved one can be as personal as you wish it to be. Many families find great comfort in turning their thoughts inward for a time, to consider the personality, interests, and achievements of their loved one. Your Funeral Director will ask you to list one or two words describing any of the following things about your loved one:
✓ Personal characteristics.
✓ Passions, interests, and hobbies
✓ Lifetime Achievements


The Funeral Director will also ask you about:
✓ The special memories you wish to share, or highlight at the service
✓ The important people you’d like to note or include
✓ How you’d like to personalize elements of the ceremony, such as the music, prayers, or recitations


Once you've given thought to the unique life and personality of the person who died, it's time to incorporate those memories into the funeral plan. Be creative as you, together with your family, friends, Funeral Director and the person who will lead the service, brainstorm how to remember and honor this special person.


A good way to personalize the funeral is to personalize the common elements of funeral ceremonies:


✓ The visitation
✓ The eulogy
✓ The music
✓ The readings
✓ The procession
✓ The committal service
✓ The gathering or reception


Considering Memorialization?
Just what is involved in memorializing a loved one? Certainly, it’s probably not within your power to build something like the Taj Mahal in their honor. Yet, there are wonderful things you can do to memorialize your loved one and ensure they are remembered and honored.

Being memorialized is in keeping with two basic human needs, the desire to remember, and to be remembered. So, how would your loved one like to be remembered?

Perhaps they would choose something small and private, such as a birdbath, sundial or garden bench. Or, maybe you think they would prefer having a tree, or trees, planted in their name.

You may simply choose to create an online memorial in their honor, such as a Book of Memories™, where you can include a video tribute, as well as an archive of treasured photographs.

Whether large or small, there are many memorialization options –in all price ranges– that can help you say your final goodbyes and remember the life of someone you loved.
If you have questions or would like to explore your options, please contact us.


The Details of Funeral Planning
The funeral or memorial service is an important step toward healing hearts and beginning the process of mending the rip in the social fabric that exists after someone dies. During the funeral arrangement conference, Your Funeral Director will guide you throughout the funeral planning process, provide you with clear answers to all your questions, and share his or her insights and experience with you.
The following is an overview of the many aspects of service planning you will discuss during the arrangement conference. If you have any questions about this information, don’t hesitate to call us.


Where Should it be Held?
Now that you have made the decision regarding burial versus cremation for your loved one, it is time to think about how you would like the service to look, and feel. It is an overall experience for everyone there; a testament to the life of someone you loved, and should illustrate the depth of your caring relationship.
Traditionally, a service is held in the family’s church, or in the chapel of the funeral home. But, in today’s world, you can choose to hold the service almost anywhere that is meaningful to you.
Perhaps there is a special place that your loved one would like to have their final goodbye? It could be at the beach, or in a favorite park; we’ve even seen services staged on the 18th hole of a golf course! Really, the choices are limited only by your imagination.
Of course, this is where you can rely heavily on your Funeral Director to help you in selecting the perfect location, and creating a memorable service.


What Day of the Week and Time of the Day are Best?
Naturally, the answers to this question depend on the location you’ve selected, and the schedules of those you wish to attend. We have made arrangement for evening services, often followed by a dinner gathering at a local restaurant. We’ve also seen early afternoon services, held out-of-doors, in the sunshine and open air. If you have concerns about the weather, an indoor service is probably a good choice, and the day/time issue resolves itself when we look at the facility schedule.


Who Will Officiate the Service?
You can choose to have a minister of your faith officiate the service, or a certified celebrant. For that matter, you can choose almost anyone who is comfortable with speaking in public, but we believe it should be someone who cares deeply about guiding those in attendance through the ceremony. The choice is always yours, but we suggest you select someone you know well, and trust.


There are Other Decisions, Too
Actually, these are the decisions which really shape and personalize the service. For example, you will need to decide:

✓ Will the service be open-ended, or will guests be told the service ends at a specific time?
✓ Which flowers, and in what colors, would you like to see surrounding the casket or urn?
✓ What type of music you would like to be played – and specifically, what selections?
✓ Will there be transportation provided, to and from the service for friends and family?
✓ Will you have a time in the service where people can share memories of your loved one?
✓ What will you do if no one wishes to share? What can you fill that time with?
✓ Will there be a traditional eulogy? And if so, who will present it?
✓ If there is to be a burial, will it be private, or open to all who choose to come?
✓ Are there close personal friends or business partners you'd wish to have service responsibilities?
Letting Everyone Know
Preparing a list of who should be notified of the passing of your loved one will be really helpful to your Funeral Director. We have a number of ways to notify them of the death, and the details of the service arrangements; and we’d be delighted to assist you in this important (and often emotionally-draining) task. When you meet with your Funeral Director, he or she will be pleased to discuss these options. If you’d like to learn more about any of the details involved in planning a funeral or memorial service for a loved one, call us: +1 (830) 773 9591


What to Expect after the Funeral
Life goes on, and you’ll find yourself, to one degree or another depending on the day or time-of-day; feeling out-of-sync with what is going on around you. You’ll be faced with strong emotions, intermittent fatigue, still have to cope with daily life and also be responsible for taking care of many details related to your loved one's life and estate. Our guide to the early days of after a death of someone dear to you can help.


Practicing Good Self-Care
Immediately after the funeral or memorial service, you should give yourself adequate time to rest. While you may find sleep to be elusive, you can always just lie down and shut your eyes for a time.
Remember to eat, and drink enough fluids. Do your best to calm your mind. And when you are compelled to complete an important task related to the death of your loved one, never hesitate to call upon a friend or family member to help.
If you find you need more grief support, we offer valuable information for you here on the nature and purpose of grief, the varied experiences of grieving, and offer insights on ways you can help yourself heal after loss.
We also offer support in an on-going aftercare program to support you and your family in completing pertinent documents and ensuring your affairs are looked after. Please call us to learn the many ways we can assist you after the funeral.


Dealing with Practicalities
There are certain practical matters you’ll need to attend to after the death of a loved one. A brief overview of these could include:


☑ Finding the Will
You have to have the original; the court won’t accept a copy. Then you’ll have to register the will at the local probate office.


☑ Locating Assets and Determining Liabilities
That is, locate all the essential information about your loved one’s assets and liabilities: insurance policies, bank accounts, retirement accounts, investments and loans. You’ll need all these to manage upcoming transactions and to notify the financial providers.


☑ Contacting their Employer
This will help you handle retirement plan distributions, employer-purchased insurance payouts and ensure that any vacation pay due goes to beneficiaries.


☑ Keeping Your Eye on the Mail Box
Chances are good something will eventually arrive about an account or loan the deceased had, and there may be assets that aren’t even known to the family. Take the time to cancel magazine subscriptions, catalogs, and anything else arriving by mail regularly.


☑ Paying the Bills
Don’t let anything get by you and slip into collections. Make sure you’ve arranged to wrap up any outstanding liabilities: the monthly utility bill, the mortgage, credit card bills, or car loans.


☑ Filing Tax Returns
It’s true that nothing is certain except death and taxes. Without fail, you will eventually have to send in federal and state income tax returns and possibly estate tax returns. It may benefit you to turn these tasks over to a certified accountant.


☑ Consulting a Lawyer
When things are really complex, or if you’re just not comfortable handling an estate, you may want to bring in an estate attorney. At the very least, check in with one after you’ve completed what you can. We’d recommend telling them what you’ve done, and asking them if you’ve missed anything along the way. Chances are, they can tie up any loose ends in an hour or two – and the peace-of-mind you’ll receive in return for their fee is well worth the price.


Immediate Need


If you are looking for information on what to do now that a death has occurred, please visit the Immediate Need section of our site, its a good place to start. It includes valuable insights on many important issues, such as the kinship order of precedence as it relates to making funeral arrangements, and a list of who you need to contact immediately.

As always, if you would prefer to speak to someone directly, please call us at +1 (830) 773 9591

Immediate Need