Your Questions Answered
If you have never planned or attended a funeral before this section of our site contains some of the most frequently asked questions about funeral services, attending funerals or planning and pre-planning funerals.
- What needs to done if a death has just occurred?
- What should I do if a death occurs out of state or overseas?
- When should I call a funeral director?
- Who is responsible for making funeral arrangements?
General Funeral Service Questions
- What is the purpose of a funeral?
- What type of funeral service should I/we have?
- What do funeral directors do?
- Can I still have a funeral service if I choose cremation?
- How much does a funeral cost?
- Is embalming required?
- What is a eulogy?
- What is the difference between a funeral service and a memorial service?
Funeral Preplanning and Pre-paid Funeral Questions
- What is the difference between pre-planning and pre-arranging?
- Is it a good idea to preplan a funeral?
- Do I have to pay if I prearrange a funeral?
- What are the advantages of pre-paying?
Q. What needs to done if a death has just occurred?
A. A certificate to confirm the death must be signed by a doctor. If the death has occurred at the home, you will need to call your family doctor. When the death occurs in a hospital or nursing home the attending staff or doctor will issue the certificate. If the doctor is unable to determine the cause of death, the coroner will be notified. This police will handle this.
Q. What should I do if a death occurs out of state or overseas?
A. A locally-based funeral director of your choice can assist you if a death occurs anywhere around the globe. The will assume responsibility and coordinate the arrangements for the return of the deceased person. With your consent they may engage the services of a funeral director in the place of death who will act as their agent.
Q. When should I call a funeral director?
A. In most instances funeral directors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They can help advise you on the steps you will need to take and discuss options for transferring the deceased into their care. It is important to realise that while decisions need to be made, you have time to carefully consider all of your options before finalising funeral arrangements or selecting a funeral director. Do not feel pressured into making immediate decisions before you have had an opportunity to discuss your needs with family and friends and talked with several funeral directors.
Q. Who is responsible for making funeral arrangements?
A. The person who had legal authority to make funeral arrangements is the Executor - the person named in the will to administer the estate. However, the responsibility can pass by mutual agreement to the next of kin or family friend. It is important to understand that whoever signs the authorisation for a funeral service to proceed will be financially responsible for the funeral and the only person with the authority to make arrangement with the crematorium or cemetery.
General Funeral Service Questions
Q. What is the purpose of a funeral?
A. A funeral is an opportunity to pay a tribute to someone you love. Funerals are an important step in the grieving process as well as an opportunity to honour a life lived. It provides an opportunity for friends, and family to express their love, respect and grief.
Q. What type of funeral service should I/we have?
A. A funeral can and should be a celebration of life. A 'good' funeral is one that is authentic, creative and meaningful in relation to the person who has died and those who are grieving. Personalise the funeral service with readings, music or even the location. Your funeral director should help your arrange the type of service you want.
Q. What do funeral directors do?
A. Funeral directors are professionals trained and experienced in assisting the bereaved in coping with death and making funeral arrangements. Some of the services funeral directors provide include: making arrangements for transporting the body, competing necessary paperwork, implementing your choices regarding the funeral and disposition of the body.
Q. Can I still have a funeral service if I choose cremation?
A. Yes. Cremation is not intended to replace the elements of a traditional funeral but simply is an alternative to earth burial or entombment of the body of the deceased. You can still have a traditional funeral service in a church, chapel or at the family home with a casket present or you can choose a contemporary celebration or memorial service prior to or following the cremation.
Q. How much does a funeral cost?
A. The cost of a funeral should be determined by you and your family. Funeral costs are broken down into three areas: funeral directors fees, casket or coffin cost and disbursements. There is a wide range of funeral services from which to choose. There will be certain expenses basic to every funeral but many expenses are determined by the selections that are made, the services specified and the additional items required. The amount you spend on a funeral should be in line with what you or the estate can financially afford. Before you make a decision on the funeral director to be used and the types of services you would like, ask for an itemised quotation. This will enable you to compare costs without emotions taking over and help with decisions about what services you think are essential and if any, ones you won't require.
Q. Is embalming required?
A. No. Embalming is the process of chemically treating the body in order to preserve it for a short amount of time. It is needed in circumstances such as repatriation or when there is a longer than average delay between death and the funeral. In normal circumstances embalming is a personal decision.
Q. What is a eulogy?
A. A eulogy is a written tribute or speech given at a funeral or memorial service to commemorate someone who has passed way. Tips on writing a eulogy can be found at the Funeral-Services.com.au Advice Centre.
Q. What is the difference between a funeral service and a memorial service?
A. A funeral service is a ceremony that takes place with the body of the deceased present. A memorial service is a ceremony honouring the deceased without the body present. A memorial service can be held close to the time of death or at a later date, such as a birthday or anniversary.
Funeral Preplanning and Pre-paid Funeral Questions
Q. What is the difference between pre-planning and pre-arranging?
A. Pre-planning is the process of selecting choices and having them on a file at a funeral home, in your will or with your next-of-kin. Pre-arranging involves pre-payment of these wishes.
Q. Is it a good idea to preplan a funeral?
A. Absolutely. Preplanning or prearranging a funeral can help you minimise the emotional strain and financial concerns that would be placed on your next of kin or executor. Preplanning doesn't necessarily mean prepaying. It simply gives you the opportunity to share your feelings and wishes about various aspects of your funeral service and what you would like to happen with your remains. There are options for prepaying but do not feel obligated to have this included when preplanning. Details of your preferences or cost guidelines of how much money should be spent and on what items is sufficient. For more information on preplanning, please see our funerals guide.
Q. Do I have to pay if I prearrange a funeral?
A. No. You can choose to pay some or all of your funeral arrangements in advance if you choose but it is not required.
Q. What are the advantages of pre-paying?
A. Pre-paying funeral expenses can be a good way to finish the planning process. Prepaying can alleviates some of the emotional strain and financial burden of your survivors, the cost of your funeral are protected against inflation. There are a number of different options for prepaying including: contributory funds, pre-paid funeral funds, funeral insurance, funeral bonds and pre-paid products. If you are choosing to prepay be sure to ask questions about who manages the trust, and make sure that the company is reputable and has a good record of claims payment. Make sure you understand what is guaranteed and what is not.
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