If someone dies at a hospital or nursing home, the staff will usually know whom to contact, the authors of Indiana Laws of Aging explain. But what if the death occurs at home or somewhere else?

  • You’ll need to call the coroner or a doctor or 911 EMT to verify the death.
  • You’ll need to call a funeral home.

“The death of someone close to you brings shock, grief and bewilderment,” the authors continue.  Had arrangements already been made with a particular funeral home? Had arrangements been made to donate the body or any part of it for transplanting or for medical research?

David Ring, owner of Indiana Funeral Care shared two disturbing true stories (Senior Life, February 2016):

  • Mom had prearranged and paid for her cremation at a certain funeral home, stipulating that the cremated remains were to go to the same cemetery where her parents’ remains had gone.  In the confusion following their mother’s death, the children called the funeral home only to learn that the cemetery had already picked up the body and taken it to a funeral home owned by their parent corporation….
  • Dad was found dead in his own kitchen.  EMT’s confirmed the death, but no plan could be found.  The children called various funeral homes to inquire about pricing and services, choosing one funeral home.  Instead, one of the other funeral homes showed up first, uninvited….

To avoid this type of misunderstanding and confusion, Ring advises:

  • Research and plan ahead.  The differences among funeral homes in pricing and services can be significant.
  • Stand your ground and do not give in to high pressure tactics applied at a time when you are so vulnerable.

There are several advantages in arranging in advance for your funeral and burial and in prepaying for those services, the Indiana State bar Association advises:

1. You can make certain your wishes are known by your family and make it easy for them to follow those directives
2. You can make thoughtful, unpressured decisions
3. You can get itemized lists of services that the cemetery is promising to provide
4. If you need financial help paying for a funeral, you have the time to investigate benefits available through Social Security, Medicaid, or the Veterans Administration.

Even if you choose not to prepay funeral expenses, Indiana grants you the right to sign a Funeral Declaration form, describing what your choices are for burial arrangements and services, and naming people who should be in charge.

Pre-arrangements can help prevent heartaches along with body-snatching!