Steps To Take
Between notifying the civil agents of a recent passing and paying for requested services, there are many parts to arranging services for a loved one. In hopes of making the process easier to follow, we have organized the process into five steps. You may select a section below or scroll freely.
Step 1: Place of Death and How it Should Immediately be Handled
Death at an Institution
When death occurs at a hospital, hospice or nursing home, the medical staff should take care of all necessary legal steps. In most cases, you just need to notify the medical staff of which funeral home you plan on sending your loved one to and sign any necessary release paperwork.
If death is anticipated
Many times when someone has a terminal illness, it is recommended the family make pre-arrangements with a funeral home so that they are not overwhelmed with the many important decisions at the time of death.
Unanticipated Death at Home or Elsewhere
In these situations, immediately call 911. The police and emergency medical personnel will then determine the appropriate steps to be taken. In all cases, the police must notify the Medical Examiner who can release the human remains directly to a funeral home. However, in certain cases, the body may need to go to the Medical Examiner’s office so that they can determine the cause of death.
Autopsies can be elective or not depending on the circumstances. Hospitals ask for permission, but County Medical Examiners do not need permission. Autopsies may result in a higher embalming fee.
Death out of state
If the death occurs outside of Arizona, you may call our toll-free telephone number: (866) 684-1951. We can coordinate transferring your loved one with a funeral director at the place of death. Being a member of several national associations, San Tan Mountain View Funeral Home can often save families money when arranging a transfer. If you travel often, it would be wise to let us tell you about our Travel Protection Plan, which would cover most costs associated with a death away from home.
Step 2: Handling Immediate Legal Matters
It is recommended to consider referring to a lawyer, even if only for consultation, during this time. Consider last wills and testaments, the estate or open bank accounts that may require attention or will take time to process. A lawyer can walk you through each state of affairs and other documents.
There are many people you may want to contact during this time and accounts you may want to start looking into to close. Here are some recommendations of where to start.
Who is legally responsible for making final arrangements and will be able to settle accounts and other legal matters?
Depending on where the death occurs and under what circumstances, parts of the legal paperwork involved may be done for you. Nevertheless, there is still much that can be confusing and may need to be addressed:
First of all, funeral arrangements should be primarily handled by an “authorizing agent.” In most cases, this is the spouse of the departed. The following details who should rightly have such responsibilities:
- Someone identified in a healthcare power of attorney as having authority to make disposition arrangements
- Next of kin
- Another responsible person as identified in A.R.S. 36-831
It should be noted that if a spouse was legally separated, had a petition for or a pending divorce with the deceased at the time of death, the spouse cannot be the authorizing agent.
Step 3: The Arrangement Conference
To assure that one of our funeral directors is immediately available and can devote the personal attention and time needed to make the arrangements, we would request that you call to schedule a mutually convenient arrangement time. Although the vast majority of funeral conferences are handled at one of our funeral homes during normal business hours, we are available to come to your residence, meet in the evenings or on weekends. One of our funeral directors is always available, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
This conference will help outline many of the intricate details for the funeral, legal ends that have yet to be met and services that may be available for you. It is primarily to help give you peace of mind during this difficult time and ensure that there are no surprises along the way.
When you come to the conference, you may want to bring with you the following items:
- Deceased’s Birth Certificate
- Deceased’s Marriage Certificate
- Military Discharge Papers (Form DD214)
- Deceased’s Funeral Pre-arrangements Documents (if available)
- Deceased Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
- Last Will and Testament and any Codicils
- Revocable Living Trust
- Recent Photograph for newspaper & preparation purposes
- Clothing – all normal items including undergarments, other than shoes. For women, an outfit closed at the neckline and long sleeves are preferred.
- Jewelry & Personal Items – these items can be brought to the arrangement conference or up to the day of the visitation.
You will be given a receipt for held items, which will also list your requested disposition.
Death Certificate Copies
At the funeral arrangement conference, if you have not already made pre-arrangements with San Tan Mountain View, our funeral directors will need to obtain some vital information for completing the death certificate. We will also help you determine how many certified copies will be needed.
Certified copies of the death certificate are legal documents and are issued by the State of Arizona Vital Statistics offices. Photocopies are not considered legal documents, though some institutions will make a copy and return the original. San Tan Mountain View electronically files these with the state and physically picks them up for the family because we know there is usually an urgency to receive these. Although we try to obtain the certified copies prior to the completion of the funeral service, this is not always possible.
In order to assist you in ascertaining the number of Death Certificates needed, below is a list of items that might require a Certified Copy:
- Each Life Insurance Company
- Motor Vehicles
- Pension, IRA or other retirement benefits
- Probate of Will
- Each bank where account maintained
- Final Tax Return
- Stocks and Bonds (1 for each company or broker)
- Your own files
- Real Property
- A certified death certificate for “government use only” copy for Veterans Benefits is at no charge.
We will notify Social Security of the death so no death certificate is needed for that purpose.
Fees for Certified Copies are generally $20 each in most counties within the State. Please note that ordering full sets of copies is not always required. To avoid overpaying please consult one of our representatives during an arrangement conference to see what options may be available for you. Easing your burdens is our highest priority.
Step 4: Considering Merchandise for Funeral and Reception Services
Full Body Burial or Cremation
Whether considering full body or cremation there are a lot of personalized and affordable options available when considering the funeral service and choosing how your loved one should be best remembered. Making the initial choice between whether they should be placed within a casket or an urn should be the first step in planning a service.
Full body burials will involve a traditional burial with the deceased being laid to rest within a casket and burial vault. This is usually the preferred choice for those that wished for their loved one to remain unaltered and kept in a presentable fashion.
Cremation is the process in which the body reduced to its natural elements. The ashes or cremains are then placed within an urn. This is often a significantly cheaper alternative to full body burials, makes for easy and convenient plots/niches to be used for family sites, and allows those that wish it, to be able to take their departed home with them. To learn more about the cremation process and the benefits of cremating with us, click here.
Caskets and Urns
Whether you choose full body burial or cremation a container will be needed. All of the options available at San Tan Mountain View Funeral Homes are customizable and provide a wide variety of pricing options.
- Caskets along with a surrounding vault are required for burial by our cemetery due to maintenance of the grounds.
- A casket will not prevent the natural decomposition of a body.
- Cremation requires a cremation container to be purchased/used; listed under caskets
- For cremation, purchase or rental of a casket is available for a visitation service
Vaults are a solid case with which to place a casket or urn in for ground burials. They are primarily for helping maintain ground level above the grave and for protecting the casket and body. There is a wide selection of vaults available, many of which are highly customizable.
To learn more, click here.
Memorial markers are made of stone or metals and mark the final resting place of an individual. Though they come in many shapes and sizes, most people are familiar with the headstone option. Other types include plaques for mausoleums and niches, and memorial benches. Basic information is often engraved onto these markers; name, date of birth, date of death, an emblem or short quote.
To learn more, click here.
If you or a loved one is being placed in our cemetery and would like to start customizing a memorial marker, please contact us to set an appointment time.
Here at San Tan Mountain View Funeral Home, we believe a funeral or memorial service has an important role in the grieving process. It provides friends and family a chance to offer one another support, share memories, and begin the process of saying goodbye to someone they held dear. We encourage every family to consider having a service; even a gathering at a family residence can lend strength to the grieving.
Contrary to belief, choosing cremation or burial does not limit the types of services a family can choose from. A public visitation with an open casket can take place before a loved one is cremated. Likewise, a memorial service can take place after a burial. To help you understand the different kinds of services, here are some brief explanations.
Service Types and Options
- Washing/Dressing: In some religions, part of the final rights includes washing, dressing and preparing hair and make-up. Many funeral homes offer all families the opportunity to prepare a loved one’s hair and make-up, but may handle the task of dressing the deceased.
- Visitation: Also known as a wake, a visitation takes place prior to a funeral service or cremation. The deceased is often present with the casket open, allowing those attending the chance to say their final farewells. There is unlikely to be a clergy member or other religious representative present, unless one has been invited to perform final rites such as the Rosary or to lead a chant or prayer.
- Funeral Service: A service taking place in a funeral home, church, or at the graveside that is led by a clergy member or other officiant. The deceased is present in their casket which may or may not be open. The structure of the service can vary greatly depending on cultural or religious beliefs.
- Memorial Service: A memorial service, also known as a Celebration of Life, is very similar to a funeral service with only a few key differences. First, instead of a casket an urn and/or pictures may be present. In cases of cremation the urn can be placed before or after the service. For a burial, the memorial service may follow days or months after the funeral service. Lastly, a memorial service can be held nearly anywhere, depending on if an urn is present. This includes a family home, a park or restaurant the deceased often visited, or a reception hall.
- Reception: After a funeral or memorial service a family may choose to have a reception. Food has always brought people together and aided in creating a more easy-going environment for people to share memories and laughs. The leftovers also help feed the family while they grieve and tend to any remaining business and accounts of their loved one.
Step 5: Making Payment for Services and Select Products
Most funeral homes and cemeteries in the valley require that all services and merchandise be completely paid for before final disposition, cremation or burial, can take place. We have several programs available to help families pay within the required time frame.
Forms of Payment
We accepts cash, check or any major credit card payment.
Insurance Assignment or Pre-Paid Policy
If the deceased has an insurance policy and the beneficiary is willing to assign it to San Tan Mountain View, we have a partnered company that will evaluate the policy in usually less than 24 hours and agree to pay the family approved funeral and cemetery contract amount. There is a 4-5% charge for this contract amount only.
Losing a loved one can be devastating, no matter how prepared you may be. We want to make the process of making funeral arrangements as easy as possible while making sure you and your family understand all of your options. If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment for Advanced Planning or an Arrangement Conference for a loved one, we are available 24/7 at (480) 888–2682.
Do You Have Questions?
We are happy to answer all your questions in great detail.