Funeral homes provide services and support to families facing imminent (hospice) and at-need death situations. Funeral homes or mortuaries are on-call when a death occurs and most are available to support families 24/7, 365 days a year. They are responsible for:
- removing and transferring the deceased from the place of death (residence, nursing home, hospital, accident scene) to the funeral home (or in certain cases, the Office of the Medical Examiner).
- Funeral directors and funeral home staff complete all paperwork necessary for burial or cremation, file death certificates, publish death notices/obituaries and file for death claim benefits.
- If the deceased was a veteran, funeral home staff will contact the necessary veterans’ affairs departments to arrange for funeral honors, flags, chaplains, and VA cemetery markers.
- Assisting with the funeral planning process, funeral homes also arrange for embalming, washing/dressing, restoration (if necessary to repair features), and cosmetology (makeup).
- Arranging with the cremation of the deceased.
- Funeral home staff handle all administrative matters (filing paperwork and providing notarization services), provide funeral products (urns, caskets, etc.) and stationary (memorial folders/programs, register books, and thank you cards).
- The Funeral home may arrange services through clergy, cemeteries, and crematories (if cremation services are not available on-site).
- Assist with the procurement of grave space, headstones/grave-markers, and arrange for grave marking and installation at the cemetery. Funeral home staff can put individuals in touch with area cemeteries and make recommendations regarding plot availability and types of markers that can be placed at certain cemeteries.
When dealing with a funeral home to make at-need arrangements (after the death has occurred), you will generally work with a licensed funeral director. Licensed funeral directors are required to obtain a two-year degree from a funeral science college program, complete a comprehensive internship, and pass state and federal board exams.
Licensed funeral directors are also available to assist families with prearranging their funeral needs. This allows an individual to plan their funeral (casket, vault, cremation, burial plot, headstone, etc.) and make a payment arrangement at a funeral home of their choice. Prearrangements also take some of the burdens of planning and financing a funeral off of the surviving loved ones.
Overall, funeral homes maintain the staff, facilities, and equipment necessary to help care for the body of the deceased, while commemorating their life. Pricing and services vary from funeral home to funeral home, so if there is not an immediate need, it might pay to read reviews of different area funeral homes and ask to see a general price list (GPL). Consumers have the right to ask for and obtain price lists from every funeral home. For additional information on funeral home requirements and consumer rights, click here.