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
- 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, call us.
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.
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:
- 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
If you’ve got questions about the legal documents you should bring with you, please contact us.