When a death occurs unexpectedly at home, the family should first contact 911. St. Joseph County requires that unexpected in home deaths be reported to the Medical Examiner’s Office; however the attending nurse, physician and funeral home will take care of this process. If the deceased was being cared for by hospice or an in-home nurse, then the attending nurse or physician will make a pronouncement of death, and will usually contact the funeral home at your request. If death occurs at a hospital, nursing home or other care facility the staff of that facility will contact the funeral home.
As part of your Responsible Planning, the information needed for the death certificate will be obtained for your file ahead of time. After death occurs, this information will be reviewed and made current with your next of kin, signed by the attending physician or medical examiner and funeral director, filed at the County Clerk’s office and placed on record with the state. The funeral home will secure any number of certified copies of the death certificate that you request. We usually recommend each family have 5 to 10 copies.
Michigan State law requires that three documents be signed before any cremation can take place; a cremation authorization, death certificate and Medical Examiner’s authorization. The cremation authorization must be signed by the surviving spouse or majority of the immediate next of kin.
If your wish is to be buried in a cemetery, you may incur additional expenses from the cemetery itself. These expenses include purchasing a grave space, opening and closing of the grave, and in some cemeteries a vault handling fee. As part of our Responsible Planning Program, you may choose to set extra funds aside for these costs. It is important to note that the funeral home cannot guarantee these prices because they are third party expenses. Your funeral director will be happy to research and plan for these costs with you.
Most Michigan cemeteries require that the casketed remains or urn be placed in an outer burial container. These containers protect against the elements and uphold the landscaping of the cemetery. The minimum outer burial container that can be purchased is a concrete grave- liner. Your funeral director will explain all of your options.
A traditional funeral service or celebration means the body of the deceased is present during the ceremony. A memorial service (often associated with cremation) is just the opposite; the body of the deceased is not present for the ceremony and is therefore remembered in memoriam.
Cash Advance Items are expenses that are placed on your funeral bill, but are not related to the funeral home charges. Cash advance items are placed on the bill as a way to alleviate burden and red tape for you and your family. These may include cemetery fees, newspaper charges, death certificates, honorariums, flowers, etc. During your Responsible Planning you are welcome to place money aside to cover these expenses; however we are unable to guarantee the cost in your Responsible Planning Contract.