This information is designed to give you basic knowledge that will help and guide you through the process.
Death may occur at various institutions including a hospital, nursing home, adult family home, assisted living facility. Death can happen at home or even at the scene of an accident.
The nursing supervisor, charge nurse or facility manager will need to know the funeral home of choice. That person will generally call the funeral home when they are ready to release the remains.
In the event of an accidental or an unexpected death, 911 needs to be called and the death reported. The police or the fire department will respond in behalf of the Coroner or Medical Examiner. A determination will be made in the field whether further investigation is required. If not, the funeral home may be called to make the removal. If cause of death is uncertain or questionable, the Coroner or Medical Examiner may make the removal themselves. They will release the body after their investigation is complete. The Coroner or Medical Examiner ultimately has jurisdiction on every death that happens in their county.
It is important to call before coming in. This will help us establish a mutual time to meet your needs with availability of the proper licensed staff. We will review all the items listed below and many more. Conferences can last from forty-five minutes to two hours depending upon the type of service we are providing for you. Your call ahead of time can help us prepare you for the things we need to do before you arrive. We also offer funeral arrangements in the home if needed or requested.
The funeral home will need certain information to assist you. It will be your obligation to provide the data for the Washington State Death Certificate. Click on the following link to open up a PDF "Vital Statistic Sheet”. The funeral home will create the death certificate from your information. We will forward the certificate to the attending physician for the cause of death. The death certificate then gets routed to the local Health Department for filing. Upon receipt, the health department will provide any certified copies of the death certificate you may need to handle your business affairs. They will also provide a Burial/Transit Permit. This document is required before burial, cremation or transportation of the body can take place.
If you’re a going to have an obituary printed in a newspaper, you will need to provide information or content. A PDF Obituary form is available by clicking on this link, Obituary Form. We suggest you use the form as a guide to create an obituary in a WORD document. This gives you an opportunity to review and edit the content as you would like it to appear. Then e-mail it to us for placement in the newspapers of your choice. We offer this as a courtesy but please be advised, the newspapers generally charge linage for printing the obituary. Note: We will help you with the obituary if you do not have a computer or e-mail capability.
Funeral Alternatives offers free use of our website for photo, service information and full-length obituary. There is also a guest book for friends to leave memories and condolences for the family. Again, this service is no charge to every family we serve.
If you would like a photo in the newspaper with the obituary, you will need to e-mail us the photo in a separate jpeg attachment. Newspapers generally charge extra for photos. Again, if you do not have a computer, simply bring the photo of your choice to our office. We will scan it and return it immediately.
If the deceased is a veteran, we will need a copy of the discharge papers or Form DD214. This document will outline the entry and exit dates of service and also rank. This information will be needed to acquire any veteran’s benefits entitled.
If there is going to be any viewing or if you desire the remains to be dressed before disposition, please bring in the clothing including undergarments you want your loved one to wear. Note: For cremation certain items cannot be cremated. They include glass, rubber or plastic items and large metal items that may do damage to the crematory.
Bring in any other information pertinent to the disposition, such as cemetery information or funeral insurance documents.
Veteran’s benefits will vary depending upon the length of service and whether the Veteran was a regular vet or a retiree. All veterans with an honorable discharge (Form DD214) and have served active duty are entitled to a number of benefits. They include a Burial Flag, a Memorial Marker, a Presidential Memorial Certificate and burial in a National Cemetery. Veteran’s spouses and dependent children are entitled to free burial or inurnment in a National Cemetery. (Note: This does not include funeral home charges unless death occurred while in active duty.)
Our closest National Cemeteries are Tahoma in Kent, Washington and Willamette in Portland, Oregon. We serve both and can ship to any National Cemetery. All cemetery costs are covered. We will arrange for all veteran’s services at the cemetery including honor guard activities.
Additional cash benefits may be available to the survivor if the veteran was a retiree or if the veteran died in a VA hospital or contracted VA care facility. Also, if the veteran died from a service connected disability and was receiving a Veteran’s disability payment in the month of death, there is a cash benefit. We will assist you with filing the benefits form.
Note: A veteran’s spouse may also be buried in the National Cemetery at no cost. An additional spouse after the death of a first spouse has the same privilege.
National Cemetery Options: There are two types of disposition in the cemetery. The first is burial or interment of casketed remains. If this is chosen, the gravesite provided will be double depth. The items provided at no cost include the grave space, the concrete grave liner, the opening and closing of the grave and grave marker for both veteran and spouse. See Tahoma Burial Sites.
The second type of disposition is placement of cremated remains. This is called inurnment. There are two choices, burial in the ground, or above ground placement in a niche wall. The niches are grouped together in a wall called a columbarium. Niches can fit two standard sized urns with no problem. Click the following links to see the choices mentioned. Ground burial option or Niche option
Veterans that do not use the National Cemetery option can be entitled to certain cash allowances as well as a memorial marker/monument. It does not include the setting costs associated with installing the market/monument.
Here’s one benefit not widely known. If you elect to scatter cremated remains, you may place a permanent memorial marker at the National Cemetery. A notarized Scattering Letter is required before the National Cemetery will place the marker. We have the letter available in our office.
This is no problem at all. In fact, knowing what your spouse wants indicates you have talked it over. As long as you agree to respect each other’s wishes the next step is to put it in writing with your funeral provider. This will help the rest of your family to know exactly what you want (and eliminate the guess work for them.)
Yes, it is encouraged. By signing your own cremation authorization you establish a clear directive as to your intent for disposition by cremation. Remember, the law offers you this right to control your own disposition. It also eliminates the funeral home from having to get permission from other family members. Here’s an example of what can happen: If there is no spouse and the surviving next of kin are five children, the funeral home is obligated to get the majority of the children to authorize the cremation. If a child objects to cremation the funeral home can still cremate, however this could cause distress among the siblings. This problem can be avoided by pre-signing your own cremation authorization, by doing so you are leaving a clear message for your family regarding your wishes.
Inspecting your crematory will allow you to have comfort, knowing how the work is done and how the facilities are managed. You have the right to inspect the crematory of your choice. We encourage inspection with our customers to help put their minds at ease.
In Washington, the law provides you the right to direct your own disposition by way of contract with the funeral provider of your choice. This is a wonderful thing because it ensures your wishes will be carried out. The funeral home is obligated to perform as you have outlined, without retribution from others.
Funeral providers in Washington are not allowed to hold on to money that has been paid for pre-arrangements. The funds must be placed in a third-party insurance or trust plan. This is for the consumer’s protection. The Washington State Insurance Commissioner and the State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers regulate the deposit of pre-paid funeral money. The money can only be released to the funeral home upon proof of death. We provide guaranteed plans at Funeral Alternatives. This means when you pay today, we promise to deliver the goods and services outlined in the guaranteed portion of the agreement for the dollar amount available in the pre-paid plan.
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