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Tips for planning end of life, funeral arrangements

Ask the Director

Q: My loved one is in the final days of life. What do I need to know and do in order to begin planning the funeral arrangements?

This is a great question and one I hear often. My first response is this: Stay home with your loved one. I have had instances where families were with me at the funeral home, and their loved one passed while they were away. This can be devastating. I advise that, instead of coming into the funeral home, either call or send an email so that the information you need can be communicated that way. Don’t ever forget that time with your loved one is precious, and you’ll never get it back again.

To aid in preparing for a meeting with an arrangement counselor after your loved one has passed, here are the key documents and vital pieces of information you will need when working with any funeral establishment:

• Loved one’s full legal name as presented on the social security card.

• Date and location of birth.

• Loved one’s father’s full legal name and state of birth (or country if born outside of the USA).

• Loved one’s mother’s full legal maiden name and state of birth (or country if born outside of the USA).

• Social Security Card and Legal ID.

• Usual street address (where your loved one lived the most).

• Length of time in the county of passing.

• Legal marital status.

• Full legal name of surviving spouse (maiden name if applicable).

• Name and address of the informant (individual giving all the above information).

• Military Discharge Paperwork-DD214 (for veterans or spouses of veterans).

• Clothing (usually for burial viewing).

• A photograph for hair and makeup.

• ID of POA/AHCD holder (should there be one).

• Be prepared for all dispositional rights holders to present ID if there is no spouse.

I’d also strongly recommended that you have a family discussion while, your loved one is with you, concerning burial or cremation wishes, wants and needs. I can’t tell you how often not having agreement on this matter has become a big point contention with family members. I know it is a difficult topic to speak about, but you will be so thankful you did.

So, again, I’d recommend that you stay with your loved one until the end. Leading up to that time, gather up the information that I noted above and have your family discussion. It is hard enough losing a loved one, it is even more difficult when all this information needs to be gathered after the fact.

Jason Wheeler is the Managing Funeral Director (FDR4671) with Wood Family Funeral Service.