The death of a loved one carries emotional significance, requiring survivors to say goodbye to a valued family member or friend as well as to carry out his or her wishes for their funeral or to plan some or all of their funeral (depending on whether the deceased pre-planned his or her services before death). This process also involves several important logistical steps, and we invite you to keep reading to learn more, or click to begin your pre-planning process or to contact us for a free, confidential, no-obligation consultation.
How to Prepare for a Loved One’s Death
Funeral plans are certainly not easier when someone you love is in the final stages of life. At Overton Funeral Homes, we believe that your first priority should be spending time with your loved one while time allows. For some, however, it can become important to use that time to prepare and make the process easier on the survivors after the passing has occurred. Regardless of how you want to approach this situation, we are committed to helping you prepare for a loved one’s death in the manner you are most comfortable. To help you prepare, included below are important steps and information for planning a funeral that honors the life of your loved one.
Collecting Important Information
We offer a personal planning guide that our clients can either complete electronically or in hard copy format. This planner includes many of the details that are needed by the family and the funeral home when someone passes away. If completed in advance, this form can be brought to the arrangement conference. If the person passing is a veteran, we will need their honorable discharge and the DD214 documents to arrange military honors and complete the accompanying VA forms on your behalf.
Preparing for the Financial Transaction
It is never too late to pre-pay funeral expenses with us. Even if someone is in hospice care, we still offer our pre-planning services, along with any current promotional savings. If you are planning to fund the final expenses with life insurance, we highly recommend you find and review the policy. Unfortunately, sometimes families count on life insurance proceeds only to discover problems after death has occurred due to an unforeseen issue with the policy. Here are some questions to ask prior to the passing:
- What type of policy do you have and is it still in force? Many policies lapse if payments have ceased, and in some cases the surviving children do not find this out until after the death. Also, be sure to confirm that you have a life insurance, and not an accidental death, policy.
- Who are the beneficiaries? All the beneficiaries need to be able to sign the claim and assignment forms after the death occurs. Often beneficiaries have not been updated on older policies, and deaths, divorces or other changes may impede the process of filing a death claim. These oversights can create issues after a person’s death and are much easier to correct prior to death.
- What is the death benefit of the policy? After a death occurs, it can be difficult to find out the death benefit from the insurance carrier quickly. This can easily be determined with a policy review call to the insurance carrier ahead of time. Also, due to privacy laws, the insurance carriers will often only speak to the owner of the policy or the individual with power of attorney (POA). POA ends at death, so making these calls in advance is important.
Having liquid funds or credit card funds available is also important. Many insurance companies will not be able to give out the death benefit for a couple of business days after a claim is initiated, and never on a weekend. This can create a temporary cash flow issue for an estate that is depending upon insurance proceeds for funeral expenses.
Do not plan to use the decedent’s bank account, as banks will freeze the account upon death, ceasing the ability to write checks. Consult with your bank ahead of time to best ensure that there will be funds available to you after the death has occurred. Overton Funeral Homes require payment at the time of services if the funeral expenses are not prepaid and if there is no insurance.
What to Do When a Death Occurs
Certain initial steps have to be taken when a death occurs, and professionals are often available to assist during this difficult time. If a person is in a care facility or under hospice care at the time of death, the nurses and social workers will help the survivors notify our funeral home. If a death has occurred unexpectedly at home and the deceased is not in hospice, you will want to contact emergency medical services (9-1-1). You can also call us directly and the funeral director can help make calls on your behalf and coordinate the care required for the deceased. When you contact us, please let us know when the funeral director should arrive, in order to allow appropriate time for family members to say goodbye. Other important post-death planning steps are outlined below.
The Planning Arrangement Conference
The funeral director will set up a time to meet with you to discuss a variety of topics, including:
- Dates and Times: Your funeral director will assist you in setting the times for the services. As soon as you have a preferred date and time, let your funeral director know so that he or she can begin to coordinate with the clergy, the church and/or the funeral home schedule.
- Photos: We will use a photo for the newspaper and online notices, and we can accept photos in hard copy and electronic formats. We can also assist you in creating a memory DVD.
- Clothing: If your funeral plans include a visitation with the body present, please bring the clothing with you to the arrangements. We will utilize whatever clothing you bring. We recommend clothing with a higher neckline and sleeves, although shoes and socks will not be visible and are optional. Your funeral director can assist you with any questions you may have regarding attire.
- Insurance: If the funeral expense has not been pre-funded, you may choose to pay for the expense using insurance for a small assignment fee. Please bring the policy information with you to the arrangement conference. If you do not have insurance, we accept checks, credit cards, and cash.
- Obituaries and Vital Statistics: You may also write an obituary and email it to your director, who can also write one during your arrangement conference. Once it is finalized, your director will post the obituary on our website and submit it to the newspapers you choose. Our personal planning guide and the Iowa death certificate worksheet will give you an indication of the type of information needed for arrangements. Either can be completed prior to arrangements (and e-mailed to your director) or during the conference. The personal planning guide is a long version that can be used if you are planning funeral or memorial ceremonies, while the Iowa death certificate captures only the information that is required if no services are planned.