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“The personal touch is still the cornerstone of our business. It will always be.”
Louis Ferfolia, Founder

Since 1927, the family and staff of Ferfolia Funeral Home has taken pride in providing personal,caring service to families in their time of need.With this in mind, we offer services that are designed to fit your needs. Each service arranged by the funeral directors at Ferfolia Funeral Home is planned to reflect your family’s wishes and pay tribute to the memory of your loved one.

About Us

In 1927 Louis Ferfolia had a dream to provide Northeastern Ohio with the kind of funeral home that would serve your every need.

Working with the philosophy that every family has individual needs and preferences and that we must respond to and respect their wishes. Louis built one of Cleveland’s first homes specifically designed for funerals in 1936, incorporating the trail blazing concept of catering facilities within the funeral home.

In 1950 Louis’ son, Donald joined the business and the Ferfolia reputation grew. Beforelong they were looking to expand and in 1970 a second location was built in Maple Heights. The addition of Donald’s children Donald B. Sr., and Mary Ferfolia Lansky addeda third generation to the business. 1994 brought the opening of a state of the art facility in Sagamore Hills bringing bereavement services and support to our families, headed by Donald’s wife Alice M. Ferfolia. As we have grown, so has the addition of a fourth generation, DonaldB. Ferfolia Jr., and Allyson Newell Binekey and Jeffery Lansky joining the family in business.

The personal touch is still the cornerstone of our business. It always will be. Our job is not to just arrange and direct a funeral. It is to explore,guard and completely carry out the wishes of the family to celebrate their loved one’s life.

We are proud that so many have turned to us in their time of need. 91 years and four generations of family later we are committed to continue to provide the finest of funeral services to our families.

We are members of the International Cemetery,Cremation and Funeral Association, National Funeral Directors Association, Ohio Funeral Directors Association, Cuyahoga Funeral Directors Association and Foresight Family Funeral Homes.

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It is very simple...
We treat people like we’d like to be treated.

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Mary Ferfolia Lansky

Funeral Director / President of Ferfolia Funeral Home

Mary is a third generation Ferfolia family member to serve families at Ferfolia Funeral Home. A graduate of Ursuline College, Mary earned her license in 1991. Mary enjoys speaking out in the community on topics related to the changing world of funeral service. Currently, Mary serves as chair of the Advisory Board at St. Benedict Catholic School and is an active member of St. Martin of Tours Parish where she is a Lay Minister.

Mary resides in Aurora and has four children.Allyson Newell Binekey who is the Business Manager for the funeral home. Megan Flyer,Colleen Newell and Jeffrey Lansky who heads up the multi-media department for Ferfolia Funeral Home.

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Donald B. Ferfolia, Jr.

Funeral Director / Board Vice President

Don is the fourth generation of the Ferfolia family to serve families at Ferfolia Funeral Home as a Licensed Funeral Director. He is a graduate of John Carroll University and earned his license in 2001.

While caring for families at the funeral home,Don continued his education at the University of Akron and earned his Law Degree in 2007.He was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 2007 and focuses his legal work on assisting families when settling a loved ones’ affairs, adding a unique dimension of service to families served by Ferfolia Funeral Home. Don also enjoys speaking to the community on topics that deal with funeral service and the legal questions surrounding the death of a loved one.

Don and his wife Dawn are active members of St. Basil the Great Catholic Church in Brecksville.When not at the funeral home, Don and Dawn enjoy spending summer evenings and weekends following the Cleveland Indians and trying to figure out whether they rescued their two dogs or their dogs rescued them!

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John T. Dempsey ("Jack")

Funeral Director

Jack was born in Cleveland,Ohio and grew up in Maple Heights, Ohio. Jack earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics from Cleveland State University and served in the United States Army. Jack began his funeral director career serving a two-year apprenticeship at Ferfolia Funeral Homes, Inc. He obtained his Funeral Director License in 1984 and continues to be a valued employee of Ferfolia Funeral Homes, Inc.

Jack has three children. Kelly is a practicing healthcare benefits/ERISA attorney; beloved Erin departed this world in 1987; and JJ is currently attending Medina Senior High School. Jack is an avid Cleveland sports fan and spent many years coaching youth baseball and softball in Maple Heights and Medina. Jack is an active member on the Holy Name High School Reunion Committee for his graduating high school class.

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Walter J. Bednarz

Funeral Director

Better known as “Wally” is a Licensed Funeral Director at Ferfolia Funeral Home since 1999. Wally began working at the funeral home in 1994 as a funeral assistant and became a funeral director’s apprentice in 1997. Prior to working at the funeral home, Wally worked with his father at Economy Floor and Wallcovering on Broadway in the Slavic Village neighborhood. He also taught English and Philosophy at Chanel High School in Bedford,Ohio. He attended St. Therese Grade School in Garfield Hts. where he grew up with his parents Walter and Eleanor, sister Patricia and brotherRalph. He attended Chanel High School and graduated from John Carroll University.

Wally has been involved in music most of his life singing at St. Therese Church as youngster, then the band at Chanel High School. He led his own band performing at many weddings, dances,and parties for nearly 40 years before retiring from the band. He presently is the Director of Music and Liturgy, Choir Director and Cantorat Ss. Cosmas & Damian Catholic Church in Twinsburg, Ohio.

Wally presently lives in Twinsburg with Darlene,his wife of 40 years. Darlene has been a Pastoral Minister in the Cleveland Diocese for 36 years and is presently ministering at St. Victor Parish.Walter and Darlene’s family consists of two daughters Melissa with her husband Scott Gardner, their daughters Mackenzie and Isabelle of Ravenna Twp., and Sara with her husband Jason Clancy with their sons Liam and Quinn of Fairlawn. Wally and Darlene enjoy cruising wherever the boat takes them. They also sharea deep love of liturgical music often ministering together musically at masses, weddings and funerals throughout the Cleveland Diocese.

Walter has a sincere desire to help those in need,especially people who have suffered a deep loss in their lives by helping them through the difficult days following the death of a spouse, a parent, a child or a friend.

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Kyle B. Sherwood

Funeral Director /Embalmer

Kyle started working at Ferfolia Funeral Home in 2005 as a funeral director assistant. He grew up in Sagamore Hills, and is a 2008 graduate of Nordonia High School. After completing prerequisite classes at Cuyahoga Community College, he transferred to the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science. Kyle graduated from CCMS with a Bachelor of Mortuary Science Degree. Following a one year apprenticeship, he received licenses for both funeral directing and embalming in May, 2015, becoming a third generation mortician.

Kyle is currently a funeral director and embalmer at Ferfolia Funeral Home. He resides in Sagamore Hills, with his fiancee, Leah, and their dog, Charlie.

In his spare time he likes to boat on Lake Erie, gofishing and take trips to Kelleys Island. Kyle enjoys all things food, whether cooking at home for his fiancee and their dog, or trying something new on an adventurous night out. Most importantly,Kyle is dedicated to his vocation of guiding families through the difficult and emotional experience of personal loss.

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Christian Cronauer


Christian, 25, has been serving at Ferfolia for three years,and is currently completing his apprenticeship. Originally a Brecksville resident, Christian attended Brecksville Broadview Heights High School. He then attended John Carroll University, where he studied Cell and Molecular Biology as well as Chemistry, graduating with Honors. It was also during his time at JCU when Christian joined the Knights of Columbus, helped reactivate Council 8320, and became a Fourth Degree Sir Knight.

Christian is also an accomplished pianist and  vocalist, and performs across a number of Cleveland venues, as well as his home parish of St. Basil the Great. Christian is a supporter of the Animal Protective League, and is a proud owner and friend of his cat, Eva. In his free time, Christian enjoys cycling in the Metroparks, kayaking the Cuyahoga River, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

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Pre-planning your funeral will make certain that your choices are respected and carried out, without leaving your family to wonder what your wishes might have been.You also have the option of paying for your funeral in advance; this locks-in the cost of the funeral at today’s prices.

When you’re ready to make a real plan, contact us and we will have one of our pre-planning counselors call you to set up an appointment.

There are many different ways to begin the planning ahead conversation. You know your family and how your loved ones might best respond to the topic. For some families, it might be a casual conversation over dinner or another family gathering; for other families, a formal meeting might be better suited.

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Regardless of your approach, the conversation is much easier to have when death is not imminent. Bringing up the subject with loved ones earlier in life when they are younger and most likely healthier, makes the topic easier to discuss and keeps the focus on the celebration of life rather than an impending loss.

Here are some tips that may help you start the advance planning conversation with your loved ones:

  • Set a time to have the conversation; schedule it as an appointment with your loved ones,whether you want to share your plans with them or ask them to make their plans to share with you.
  • Tell your parent or loved one that you want to ensure their final arrangements are done according to their wishes and you need their help to make that happen.
  • Ease into the conversation. Questions such as “Have you ever thought about where you would like to be buried?” or “What type of funeral would you like to have?” may open the discussion to more details about your loved one’s wishes.
  • Take advantage of funeral-related opportunities. Attending the funeral of a friend, family member, or colleague, or watching a movie or television show with funeral scenes, may naturally prompt the discussion with your own loved ones. Talkabout what you liked or didn’t like about the services you saw or attended.
  • Tell your children or loved ones that because you care for them so much, you don’t want to burden them with difficult decisions when you’re gone. Tell them you’ve made your own final arrangements and give them a written record of what they are.
  • Make your funeral and cemetery plans with us and then wrap a copy of your contract and wishes in a gift box and present it to your children.
  • Make it a family affair. Schedule an appointment with your chosen funeral home or cemetery provider and invite your children along to participate in the selection of services, funeral merchandise, and cemetery property.

Whether you’re sharing plans for your own final arrangements with loved ones, or encouraging loved ones to make and share their plans with you, the conversation about planning ahead is an important one that every family should have. While no one wants to think about their death or the death of a loved one any sooner than they must, having the conversation in advance alleviates the need for potentially more unpleasant or difficult conversations in the future.

Losing a Loved One Can Be Overwhelming and Emotionally Draining

In the wake of that loss, it’s not easy making financial decisions – but you don’t have to make them alone.

My team can assist in coordinating a group of professional advisors who put your interests first. The result is a comprehensive financial plan that helps give you the confidence that your goals are within reach. Knowing where to begin is challenging at best. I’m here to listen to your concerns and help guide you through the process.

Please call me for a complimentary consultation.

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To My Loved Ones:

I wanted to spare you as much anxiety, doubt, and confusion as possible at the time of my death, so in this section I have suggested some arrangements in advance.

This section includes vital statistics, funeral service guidelines, and cemetery requests, which are all important to the funeral director while assisting you to plan the details of my service.

The section also includes more personal material for eulogies, obituaries and other remembrances.

Please accept these arrangements in the spirit they are given; with love, hoping to give you comfort and help you to remember the times we shared.

First Person to be Notified Upon My Death:

Vital Statistics About Me:

My Preference for the Location of the Visitation, Service or Celebration of Life:

Personal Items:

Cemetery Instructions

The following are my wishes regarding my final resting place.

Information for Newspaper - A Guideline:

A Personal Life Review for the Funeral and Eulogy:

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Burial Services

Most people are familiar with theconcept of burial, or “interment,”but may not be aware of the varietyof options that are often available.

Many cemeteries offer one or more of the following:

  • Ground Burial: Burial of the casket belowground. A “vault” or “outer burial container”is required at many cemeteries.
  • Mausoleum, or Community Mausoleum: A large building that provides above-ground entombments.
  • Private Family Mausoleum: A small structure that provides above-ground entombment of, on average, two to twelve decedents.
  • Companion Crypt: Permits two interments or entombments side-by-side.
  • Private Family Estate: A small section of a cemetery usually bordered by gates, shrubbery, or other dividers, that allows for ground burial of several members of the same family

Burial FAQs

Opening and closing fees can include up to andbeyond 50 separate services provided by the cemetery. Typically, the opening and closing fee includes administration and permanent recordkeeping (determining ownership, obtaining permission and the completion of other documentation which may be required, entering the interment particulars in the interment register,maintaining all legal files); opening and closing the grave (locating the grave and laying out the boundaries, excavating and filling the interment space); installation and removal of the lowering device; placement and removal of artificial grass dressing and coco-matting at the gravesite,leveling, tamping, re-grading and sodding the gravesite and leveling and re-sodding the grave if the earth settles.

Cremation Services

Many people overlook the importance of cemetery property for those who choose cremation, but permanent placement, or “final disposition,” of the ashes or “cremated remains” is an important part of final arrangements.

Just consider:

  • A permanent site gives loved ones a physical place for visitation and reflection.
  • The ceremony accompanying the placement of an urn in a cremation niche or a cremation garden in a cemetery provides family and friends with closure after the loss of a loved one.
  • When ashes of a loved one are kept with relatives, they can easily become misplaced or discarded through the years, as future generations may not feel a connection to the deceased.
  • A permanent placement provides future generations with a location to visit when researching heritage.

Some common methods of final disposition of cremated remains are:

  • Cremation Niche: An above-ground space to accommodate a cremation urn.
  • Columbarium: Often located within a mausoleum or chapel and constructed of numerous niches designed to hold urns.
  • Cremation Garden: A dedicated section of a cemetery designed for the burial, scattering, or other permanent placement of ashes.
  • Memorial Benches: Benches that either simply memorialize a loved one scattered or buried in a cremation garden, or actually contain the remains within.
  • Headstones: Some cemeteries allow upright headstones, called “monuments,” to be used with ground burials. Headstones that are flat against the ground are called “markers.” In some cemeteries or sections of cemeteries, only flat markers are used to preserve the natural appearance of the landscape.
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Cremation FAQs

Cremation is an alternative to earth burial or mausoleum entombment; it does not limit the funeral in any way. Should you choose cremation, you will still have the same options for memorialization that any other family has. Cremation can take place before or after the funeral service. In this section, we’ve answered the most common questions we are asked about cremation. If you require further information, please contact us at any time,

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Veteran Services

The basic Military Funeral Honors (MFH) ceremony consists of the folding and presentation of the United States flag to the veterans’ family and the playing of Taps. The ceremony is performed by a funeral honors detail consisting of at least two members of the Armed Forces.

The funeral honors rendered to you or your veteran will be determined by the status of the veteran. The type of funeral honors may be Full Military Honors, 7 Person Detail or a Standard Honors Team Detail. 

At least one of the funeral honors detail will be from the Armed Force in which the deceased veteran served. Taps may be played by a bugler or, if a bugler is not available, by using a quality recorded version. Military Funeral Honor Teams may act as pallbearers if requested by the veteran/family.

Who is eligible for Military Funeral Honors?

  • Military members on active duty or in the Selected Reserve.
  • Former military members who served on active duty and departed under conditions other than dishonorable.
  • Former military members who completed at least one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service in the Selected Reserve and departed under conditions other than dishonorable.
  • Former military members discharged from the Selected Reserve due to a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.

Who is not eligible for Military Funeral Honors?

  • Any person separated from the Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions or whose character of service results in a bar to veteran's benefits. 
  • Any person who was ordered to report to an induction station, but was not actually inducted into military service. 
  • Any person discharged from the Selected Reserve prior to completing one term of enlistment or period of initial obligated service for reasons other than a disability incurred or aggravated in the line of duty.
  • Any person convicted of a Federal or State capital crime sentenced to death or life imprisonment.

How do I establish veteran eligibility?

The preferred method is the DD Form 214, Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty.  If the DD Form 214 is not available, any discharge document showing other than dishonorable service can be used.  The DD Form 214 may be obtained by filling out a Standard Form 180 and sending it to:

National Personnel Records Center(NPRC)
9700 Page Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63132

The Standard Form 180 may be obtained from the National Records Center or via the following web site:

Is anyone else eligible to receive funeral honors?

Yes. Members of the Commissioned Officer Corps of the Public Health Service (PHS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as members of a Uniformed Service, are also eligible to receive funeral honors.

For NOAA personnel, eligibility is established using NOAA Form 56-16, Report of Transfer or Discharge. If the family does not have a copy of the NOAA Form 56-16, it may by obtained by contacting the Chief, Officer Services Division, NOAA Commissioned Personnel Center at (301) 713-7715. or by writing:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 
Commissioned Personnel Center 
Chief, Officer Services Division (CPC1) 
1315 East-West Highway, Room 12100 
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910

For PHS personnel, funeral honors eligibility is established using PHS Form 1867, Statement of Service (equivalent to the DD Form 214).  If the family does not have a copy of the Statement of Service, it may be obtained by contacting the Privacy Coordinator for the Commissioned Corps at (240) 453-6041 or writing:

Division of Commissioned Personnel/HRS/PSC 
Attention: Privacy Act Coordinator 
5600 Fishers Lane 
Rockville, Maryland 20857

Veteran Headstone

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) furnishes upon request, at no charge to the applicant, a Government headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world, regardless of their date of death.   For eligible veterans that died on or after Nov. 1, 1990, VA may also provide a headstone or marker for graves that are already marked with a private headstone or marker. When the grave is already marked, applicants will have the option to apply for either a traditional headstone or marker, or a new device (available spring 2009).  

Flat markers in granite, marble, and bronze and upright headstones in granite and marble are available. The style chosen must be consistent with existing monuments at the place of burial. Niche markers are also available to mark columbaria used for inurnment of cremated remains.

When burial or memorialization is in a national cemetery, state veterans' cemetery, or military post/base cemetery, a headstone or marker will be ordered by the cemetery officials based on inscription information provided by the next of kin or authorized representative.

Spouses and dependents are not eligible for a Government-furnished headstone or marker unless they are buried in a national cemetery, state veteran's cemetery, or military post/base cemetery.

Note: There is no charge for the headstone or marker itself, however arrangements for placing it in a private cemetery are the applicant's responsibility and all setting fees are at private expense.

Important Notice - New Law Concerning Eligibility for Headstones and Markers

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Veteran Burial Flags

A United States flag is provided, at no cost, to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran who served honorably in the U. S. Armed Forces.  It is furnished to honor the memory of a veteran's military service to his or her country. VA will furnish a burial flag for memorialization for:

  • A veteran who served during wartime
  • A veteran who died on active duty after May 27, 1941
  • A veteran who served after January 31, 1955
  • A peacetime veteran who was discharged or released before June 27, 1950
  • Certain persons who served in the organized military forces of the Commonwealth of the Philippines while in service of the U.S. Armed Forces and who died on or after April 25, 1951
  • Certain former members of the Selected Reserves

Who Is Eligible to Receive the Burial Flag?

Generally, the flag is given to the next-of-kin, as a keepsake, after its use during the funeral service. When there is no next-of-kin, VA will furnish the flag to a friend making request for it. For those VA national cemeteries with an Avenue of Flags, families of veterans buried in these national cemeteries may donate the burial flags of their loved ones to be flown on patriotic holidays.

How Can You Apply?

You may apply for the flag by completing VA Form 27-2008, Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes. You may get a flag at any VA regional office or U.S. Post Office. Generally, the funeral director will help you obtain the flag.

Can a Burial Flag Be Replaced?

The law allows us to issue one flag for a veteran's funeral. We cannot replace it if it is lost, destroyed, or stolen. However, some veterans' organizations or other community groups may be able to help you get another flag.

How Should the Burial Flag Be Displayed?

The proper way to display the flag depends upon whether the casket is open or closed. VA Form 27-2008 provides the correct method for displaying and folding the flag. The burial flag is not suitable for outside display because of its size and fabric. It is made of cotton and can easily be damaged by weather.

For More Information Call Toll-Free at 1-800-827-1000

Funeral Arrangements

Whether you’re planning for yourself or for a loved one, the funeral service is one of the most important elements of a person’s final arrangements. With the opportunity for great personalization, the funeral service can truly reflect the uniqueness of the life it honors.

Regardless of whether you or your loved one have opted for burial or for cremation, the funeral or memorial service fills an important role. It can:

  • Honor, recognize, and celebrate the life of the deceased.
  • Allow friends and family to say their last goodbyes.
  • Provide closure after the loss of a loved one.
  • Allow friends to console the family of the loved one.

So, what is a funeral? In general terms, a funeral is a gathering of family and friends after the death of a loved one that allows them the opportunity to mourn, support each other, and pay tribute to the life of the deceased. It often consists of one or more of the following components:

Burial Plans

When considering final arrangements for yourself or a loved one, one of the first decisions you might make is whether you prefer burial or cremation. This decision often influences other important considerations such as elements of the funeral service and type of cemetery property.

Funeral Service

A formal or informal ceremony or ritual prior to burial, a funeral service often provides a sense of closure to family and friends. Although your faith or culture may dictate some elements of a funeral service, you may want to personalize other elements of the service. At a funeral service, a casket or urn is present, though you may choose to have the casket open or closed.

Visitation, Wake, or Viewing

Held the night before or immediately prior tothe funeral service, the visitation - also called a wake or a viewing - provides a way for friends and acquaintances to pay respects and offer condolences to your family. As with the funeral service, you may want to decide if you want an open or closed casket should one be present.

Memorial or Tribute Service

At a memorial or tribute service, a casket or urn is usually not present. Otherwise similar to a funeral or visitation, a memorial service gives family and friends a time to come together in your memory and celebrate your life.

Graveside Service

As its name implies, a graveside service may be held at the gravesite just prior to burial of a casket or urn and usually consists of final remarks, prayers, or memories. The service may occur after or in place of a funeral service.

There’s no one, right way to plan a funeral service, we believe that each funeral should be as unique and memorable as the life it honors. 

When planning your own funeral service in advance, think about the way you want to be remembered. Perhaps you’d like a traditional funeral aligned with certain religious or ethnic customs? Or, a celebration focusing on great memories made with family and friends may be your preference. Maybe it’s a combination of both. You can have one service, or several, to honor your life.

Regardless of the service or services you choose to include in your funeral plan, you can personalize them in almost any way imaginable. For example, just consider the following questions:

  • Where should the funeral be held? At your place of worship? At the funeral home?
  • Who should officiate the service?
  • Will your service adhere to the traditions of your faith or culture?
  • Do you want a eulogy, and who should deliver it?
  • Would you like an open or closed casket?
  • What music should be played?
  • What readings would you like to have read?
  • Is there a special poem you’d like shared with the guests?
  • Are there any special photographs or other memorabilia you would like displayed?
  • Should the décor reflect a particular hobby or interest of yours, such as fishing, gardening, or music?
  • Is there a particular emblem or engraving you want on your headstone or marker?
  • Should there be refreshments served or a more elaborate party held after the service?

Cemetery Property

In addition to funeral services and the choice of burial or cremation, cemetery property, or“interment rights,” is another consideration when you’re making final arrangements, either for yourself in advance, or for a loved one. A common misconception that people often have when they purchase the right of interment in a cemetery is that they have purchased the land itself, when in fact what they have really purchased is the right to be interred (also referred to as buried, entombed, enniched or placed) on or in that particular piece of property.

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When Death Occurs

When a death occurs, there are so many things to consider and decisions to make. These lists can help you navigate through them.

Notify These People as Soon as Possible:

  • Your doctor who may provide a medical
  • certificate of death or request an autopsy to
  • determine the cause of death.
  • The funeral home to arrange for the transfer of the deceased (usually this can be done within 1-2 hours although it may take longer to obtain a release from the hospital) and set an appointment with you to make further arrangements.
  • Relatives, executor/executrix, and friends.
  • Employers (the employer of the deceased and relatives who will need time off).
  • Insurance agents (life, health, and accident).
  • Religious, fraternal, civic and veterans’ organizations, and unions, if applicable.
  • Lawyer and accountant

Secure the Vital Statistics of Deceased:

  • Full legal name - other names must be
  • identified by “Also Known As” (AKA).
  • Home address and telephone number.
  • Name of business or employer’s name, address, and telephone number.
  • Industry and occupation.
  • Military service serial number.
  • Date and place of birth.
  • Citizenship.
  • Father’s name and birthplace.
  • Mother’s name, maiden name, and birthplace.
  • Locate the will.

Meet with the Funeral Home Decide within a few hours:

  • Clothing that the deceased will be buried or cremated in.
  • Whether your loved one is to be buried,cremated, or entombed.
  • The funeral director will ask if you have made any arrangements with a cemetery or crematorium. If you have not done this, you will need to visit the cemetery.
  • Service details: Would you like a visitation period, formal service, a reception?
  • Whether a member of the clergy will be engaged for the service.
  • Pallbearers, music, pictures, flowers, scripture, or other readings.
  • Casket selection.
  • If you would like a charity to receive donations in lieu of flowers.
  • Whether you would prefer cremation or casket burial or entombment (if you haven’t already decided).

If Cremation:

  • Would you like to use our chapel for a short service prior to the cremation?
  • What type of urn would you prefer? (Metal, wood, marble, ceramic, etc.)
  • What type of final resting place you would prefer for your loved one? Choice of burial, above-ground niches, or scattering of cremated remains.
  • Would you like other members of the family to be with your loved one in the future? This determines the size of the resting place.

Decisions to be made regarding burial of urn:

  • What type of memorial do you prefer? Choice of bronze or granite marker set flush with the ground or an upright memorial etc.
  • Would you like to protect your loved one’s urn with a concrete vault? 
Decisions to be made regarding above-ground niches:
  • Would you like the niche to be inside a building or outside?
  • What type of material would you like the niche to be constructed from? Granite or bronze are choices for outdoor niches and marble or glass are choices for indoor.
Decisions to be made regarding scattering:
  • Would you like to be present for the scattering?
  • Would you like a memorial to be placed in the area?

If Casket Burial:

  • Would you like other members of the family to be with your loved one in the future? This determines the size of the lot.
  • What type of memorial do you prefer? Choice of a marker set flush with the ground or an upright memorial.
  • Would you like to protect your loved one’s casket with a concrete vault?
  • What type of presentation would you prefer for the burial service? E.g. a tent canopy, chairs, mats leading to the grave etc.

If Casket Entombment:

  • Would you like other members of the family to be with your loved one in the future? This determines the size of the crypt.
  • What type of memorial package would you prefer? Choice of flower vase and memorial lights etc.

Pay For:

  • Ambulance services, if any.
  • Funeral arrangements, including clergy, florist, and transportation.
  • Cemetery and memorialization services.
  • Current and urgent bills (i.e. mortgage, rent, taxes, telephone, etc.).

Collect Documents:

(Required to establish rights for insurance, pensions, survivor benefits, ownership, etc.)

  • Will.
  • Legal proof of age or birth certificate.
  • Social Security card.
  • Marriage license.
  • Citizenship papers.
  • Insurance policies.
  • Bank books.
  • Deeds.
  • Car ownership papers.
  • Income tax returns, receipts, or canceled checks.
  • Military discharge papers.

Transporting the Deceased to Another Country for Burial

We have extensive experience shipping caskets to other countries for burial. If you require international transportation, please advise us as soon as the death has occurred so we can begin making arrangements with the appropriate authorities. Please be advised that complying with the requirements of other jurisdictions takes time - a minimum of one week, often longer.

Things to Do After the Funeral: A Checklist

▢ Get Duplicate Death Certificates
You may need a dozen certified death records to complete upcoming tasks, though some will require less expensive copies. Your funeral director may help you handle this or you can order them from the vital statistics office in the state where the death occurred or from the city hall or other local records office. Each certified record will cost around of $10 or $20.

▢ Send Thank You Notes

From the contact list that you acquired earlier, send thank you notes and acknowledgments. Consider delegating this task to a family member.

▢ Notify Local Social Security Office

Typically the funeral director will notify Social Security of your loved one’s death. If not, call 1-800-772-1213 or contact your local office. If your loved one was receiving benefits, they must stop because over payments will require complicated repayment. Even a payment received for the month of death may need to be returned. If the deceased has a surviving spouse or dependents, ask about their eligibility for increased personal benefits and about a onetime payment of $255 to the survivor.

▢ Handle Medicare

If your loved one received Medicare, Social Security will inform the program of the death. If the deceased had been enrolled in Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage (Part D), Medicare Advantage plan or had a Medigap policy, contact these plans at the phone numbers provided on each plan membership card to cancel the insurance.

▢ Look into Employment Benefits

If the deceased was working, contact the employer for information about pension plan, credit unions and union death benefits. You will need a death certificate for each claim.

▢ Stop Health Insurance

Notify the health insurance company or the deceased’s employer. End coverage for the deceased, but be sure coverage for any dependents continues if needed.

▢ Notify Life Insurance Companies

If your loved one had life insurance, appropriate claim forms will need to be filed. You will need to provide the policy numbers and a death certificate. If the deceased was listed as a beneficiary on a policy, arrange to have the name removed.

▢ Terminate Other Insurance Policies

Contact the providers. That could include homeowner’s, automobile and so forth. Claim forms will require a copy of the death certificate.

▢ Meet with a Probate Attorney

The executor should choose the attorney. Getting recommendations from family or friends might be the best approach, but an online search can also be an efficient way to find an attorney. “The advice of counsel can save a lot of frustration and running down dead ends,” Hurme says. If there is a will, the executor named in it and the attorney will have the document admitted into probate court. If there isn’t a will, the probate court judge will name an administrator in place of an executor. The probate process starts with an inventory of all assets (personal property, bank accounts, house, car, brokerage account, personal property, furniture, jewelry, etc.), which

▢ Make a List of Important Bills (Mortgage Payments)

Share the list with the executor or estate administrator so that bills can be paid promptly.

▢ Contact Financial Advisers, Stockbrokers, etc.

Determine the beneficiary listed on these accounts. Depending on the type of asset, the beneficiary may get access to the account or benefit by simply filling out appropriate forms and providing a copy of the death certificate. If that’s the case, the executor wouldn’t need to be involved. If there are complications, the executor could be called upon to help out.

▢ Notify Mortgage Companies and Banks

Determine the beneficiary listed on these accounts. Depending on the type of asset, the beneficiary may get access to the account or benefit by simply filling out appropriate forms and providing a copy of the death certificate. If that’s the case, the executor wouldn’t need to be involved. If there are complications, the executor could be called upon to help out.

▢ Close Credit Card Accounts

For each account, call the customer service phone number on the credit card, monthly statement or issuer’s website. Let the agent know that you would like to close the account of a deceased relative. Upon request, submit a copy of the death certificate by fax or email. If that’s not possible, send the document by registered mail with return receipt requested. Once the company receives the certificate, it will close the account as of the date of death. If an agent doesn’t offer to waive interest or fees after that date, be sure to ask. Keep records of the accounts you close and notify the executor of the estate about outstanding debts.

▢ Notify Credit Reporting Agencies

To minimize the chance of identity theft, provide copies of the death certificate to the three major firms - Equifax, Experian and TransUnion - as soon as possible so the account is flagged. Four to six weeks later, check the deceased’s credit history to ensure no fraudulent accounts have been opened.

▢ Cancel Driver’s License

Clearing the driver’s license record will remove the deceased’s name from the records of the department of motor vehicles and help prevent identity theft. Contact the state department of motor vehicle for exact instructions. You may have to visit a customer-service center or mail documentation. Either way, you’ll need a copy of the death certificate.

▢ Cancel Email and Website Accounts

It’s a good idea to close social media and other online accounts to avoid fraud or identity theft. The procedures for each website will vary. For instance, Google Mail (Gmail) will ask you to provide a death certificate, a photocopy of your driver’s license and other detailed information.

▢ Cancel Memberships in Organizations

Reach out to sororities, fraternities, professional organizations, etc., the deceased belonged to and find out how to handle his/her membership status. Greek organizations may want to hold a special ceremony for your loved one.

▢ Contact a Tax Preparer

A return will need to be filed for the individual, as well as for an estate return. Keep monthly bank statements on all individual and joint accounts that show the account balance on the day of death.

▢ Notify the Election Board

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Giving a meaningful, moving eulogy can be a nerve-wracking situation for even the most accomplished public speaker, but it need not be. How can you summarize somebody’s life in a few short minutes, while being both somber and funny at the same time?

Writing and delivering a eulogy is a therapeutic tool to help deal with your grief, and being chosen to give a eulogy is an honor and should be treated that way. Here are some tips for writing and delivering an eloquent and memorable eulogy.

Gather Information

Talk with family members, close friends and co-workers to get important information on the deceased. Some important information to include in the eulogy is the persons family and other close relationships, their education/career, hobbies or special interests, places the person lived or traveled to, and any special accomplishments they had.

Organize your Thoughts

Jot down your ideas by whatever means are most comfortable and familiar to you. Create an outline of your speech, and fill in the information that you gathered about the person.

Write it Down

This is not a toast at a wedding where you can make off-the-cuff remarks, and you should not ad-lib a eulogy. Writing it all down allows you to include and remember every detail you wanted in your eulogy. When you bring a copy of your eulogy to the podium make sure it is easy to read, print it out in a large font, or if it is handwritten leave a few spaces between the lines. Keep in mind your time constraints; it’s best to keep things on the short side, especially if there are other speakers.

Review and Revise

Your first draft will not be the last. When you think you are done, sleep on it and look it over in the morning when it is fresh again, that will be the time to make any necessary revisions.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Read over your eulogy several times in order to become familiar with it. Practice in front of a mirror, read it over to some friends or family and have them give you feedback. Become familiar with your speech so you can recite it without making it look like you’re reading from a script. The more you practice the more comfortable you will be.

Make Them Laugh, but Be Respectful

A funeral is not a roast, however, there is room for humor in your eulogy. Fondly remember a story about the person that everyone can relate to. Keep it appropriate; there will be  children and the elderly there that may not share the same sense of humor. Laughter is truly the best medicine, and some well-placed humor will help people cope, and will bring back fond memories of the deceased.

Don’t Be Afraid to Show Emotion

Funerals are an extremely emotional event; nobody expects you not to shed a few tears. However, if you feel that you will be too strongly overcome by your emotions, have a back-up plan in place where someone you trust can deliver the eulogy for you. Give them a copy well in advance if you feel this could be an issue. Have a glass of water as well as tissues handy.

Funeral Etiquette

Like everything in society, funeral etiquette and what is expected of you has evolved over time. As always common sense and good discretion is the best guide to proper funeral etiquette. Here are a few guidelines.


Express your condolences. It’s not easy to come up with the words to offer sympathy to someone who has just lost a loved one. You don’t need to be a poet, simply saying something like “I am sorry for your loss, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family” is enough. If you can’t be at a funeral service in person, sending a card or leaving a message on a memorial website is a perfect way to express your sympathy.

Dress appropriately. Gone are the days of dressing up in all black for a funeral, but jeans and a t-shirt isn’t exactly acceptable either. You should still dress to impress and avoid any bright or flashy colors. Wearing what you would wear for a wedding or a job interview would be the most appropriate.

Sign the register book. The family will keep the register book as a memento for years. Be sure to include your full name and relationship to the deceased.

Give a gift. You don’t need to go overboard with your gift, after all it is the thought that counts. Suitable gifts include; flowers, a donation to the charity of the family’s choice, or you can make a commitment of service to the family at a later date. A commitment of service can be something as simple as cooking them dinner, or offering to clean up their house, any of the “little” things that may be neglected while a family deals with death. Make sure you provide a signed card so the family knows who gave the gift.

Keep in touch. You may feel that the family needs their space and time to grieve, but a simple phone call or note after the funeral lets the family know you care. With social networking leaving a quick note is as simple as a click of a mouse. The months following a death is when grieving friends and family need the most support.


Bring your cell phone. Your phone ringing will be highly inappropriate and will cause a disturbance, so turn any ringers or notifications off. Even better, leave your phone at home or in your car, a funeral is not the time to be texting or checking your messages.

Allow your children to be a distraction. From a very young age children are aware of death, and if the funeral is for someone that was close to them (grandparent, aunt, uncle) they should be given the option to attend. However if it is not appropriate for your child to be there, and if you feel they will cause a commotion, leave them with a babysitter.

Be afraid to remember the good times. Funerals are obviously a time of grieving and mourning, but remembering the good times helps with the healing process. Sharing a funny and appropriate story is acceptable, and in some cases exactly what the deceased would have wanted.

Overindulge. If food or drink is served, do not over do it. Have a bite to eat before you go to the service, you do not want to be that guy parked at the snack table. If alcohol is served, limit yourself to one or two, do not become inebriated and risk doing something inappropriate.

On Helping a Friend Cope with Loss

Before the Funeral

  1. Offer to notify his/her family and friends about funeral arrangements.
  2. House-sit to prevent burglaries during the funeral and visitations.
  3. Help answering the phone and greeting visitors.
  4. Keep a record of everyone who calls, visits, or has been contacted.
  5. Help coordinate the food and drink supply.
  6. Offer to pick up friends and family at the airport and arrange accommodation.
  7. Offer to provide transportation for out-of-town visitors.
  8. Help him/her keep the house clean and the dishes washed.

After the Funeral

  1. Prepare or provide dinner on a day that is mutually acceptable every week for two to three months.
  2. Offer to help with yard chores such as watering or pruning.
  3. Feed and exercise any pets.
  4. Write notes offering encouragement and support.
  5. Offer to drive or accompany the bereaved to the cemetery regularly.
  6. Offer to house-sit so the bereaved can get away or visit family out of town.
  7. Make a weekly run to the grocery store, laundry, or cleaners.
  8. Help with the thank you notes and/or other correspondence.
  9. Anticipate difficult periods such as anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, and the day of death.
  10. Always mention the deceased by name and encourage reminiscing.

Above all, just listening and your concern and presence will help.

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What is Grief?

The family and staff of Ferfolia Funeral Homes understand that grieving does not end the day of the funeral. Because we care about the families who place their trust in us, we wish to offer continued support during the grieving process. 

If you would like to join our support group, would like information on individual grief counseling, or if you have any questions regarding the resources available to you and your family, please do not hesitate to call us at (330) 467-4500.

“Grief is reaching out for someone who’s always been there, only to find when you need them the most, one last time, they’re gone.”

The death of a loved one is life’s most painful event. People’s reactions to death remain one of society’s least understood and most off-limits topics for discussion. Often, grievers are left totally alone in dealing with their pain, loneliness, and isolation.

Grief is a natural emotion that follows death. It hurts. Sadness, denial, guilt, physical discomfort, and sleeplessness are some of the symptoms of grief. It is like an open wound which must become healed. At times, it seems as if this healing will never happen. While some of life’s spontaneity begins to return, it never seems to get back to the way it was, it is still incomplete. We know however, that these feelings of being incomplete can disappear.

Healing is a process of allowing ourselves to feel, experience, and accept the pain. In other words, we give ourselves permission to heal. Allowing ourselves to accept these feelings is the beginning of that process.

The healing process can take much less time than we have been led to believe. There are two missing parts. One is a safe, loving, professionally guided atmosphere in which to express our feelings, the other is knowing how and what to communicate.

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The Grieving Process

When we experience a major loss, grief is the normal and natural way our mind and body react. Everyone grieves differently, and at the same time, there are common patterns people tend to share.

For example, someone experiencing grief usually moves through a series of emotional stages such as shock, numbness, guilt, anger, and denial, and physical responses are typical also. They can include sleeplessness, inability to eat or concentrate, lack of energy, and lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed.

Time always plays an important role in the grieving process. As the days, weeks, and months go by, the person who is experiencing loss moves through emotional and physical reactions that normally lead toward acceptance, healing, and getting on with life as fully as possible.

Sometimes a person can become overwhelmed or bogged down in the grieving process. Serious losses are never easy to deal with, but someone who is having trouble beginning to actively re-engage in life after a few months should consider getting professional help. For example, if continual depression or physical symptoms such as loss of appetite, inability to sleep, or chronic lack of energy persists, it is probably time to see a doctor.

Allow Yourself to Mourn

Someone you love has died; you are now faced with the difficult, but important need to mourn. Mourning is the open expression of your thoughts and feelings regarding the death and the person who has died, it is an essential part of healing. You are beginning a journey that is often frightening, painful, overwhelming, and sometimes lonely. This guide provides practical suggestions to help you move toward healing in your personal grief experience.

Realize Your Grief is Unique

Your grief is unique. No one will grieve in exactly the same way. Your experience will be influenced by a variety of factors: the relationship you had with the person who died, the circumstances surrounding the death, your emotional support system, and your cultural and    religious background.

As a result of these factors, you will grieve in your own special way. Don’t try to compare your experience with that of other people or to adopt assumptions about just how long your grief should last. Consider taking a “one day at a time” approach that allows you to grieve at your own pace.

Talk About Your Grief

Express your grief openly. By sharing your grief outside yourself, healing occurs. Ignoring your grief won’t make it go away; talking about it often makes you feel better. Allow yourself to speak from your heart, not just your head. Doing so doesn’t mean you are losing control, or going “crazy”, it is simply a normal part of your grief journey. Find caring friends and relatives who will listen without judging and seek out those persons who will “walk with, not in front of” or “behind” you in your journey through grief. Avoid people who are critical or who try to steal your grief from you. They may tell you, “keep your chin up” or “carry on” or “be happy.” While these comments may be well-intended, you do not have to accept them. You have a right to express your grief; no one has the right to take it away.

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Expect to Feel a Multitude of Emotions

Experiencing a loss affects your head, heart, and spirit, so you may experience a variety of emotions as part of your grief work. Confusion, disorganization, fear, guilt, relief, or explosive emotions are just a few of the emotions you may feel. Sometimes these emotions will follow each other within a short period of time, or they may occur simultaneously.

As strange as some of these emotions may seem, they are normal and healthy. Allow yourself to learn from these feelings and don’t be surprised if out of nowhere you suddenly experience surges of grief, even at the most unexpected times. These grief attacks can be frightening and leave you feeling overwhelmed. They are, however, a natural response to the death of someone loved. Find someone who understands your feelings and will allow you to talk about them.

Allow for Numbness

Feeling dazed or numb when someone loved dies is often part of your early grief experience. This numbness serves a valuable purpose: It gives your emotions time to catch up with what your mind has told you. This feeling helps create insulation from the reality of the death until you are more able to tolerate what you don’t want to believe.

Be Tolerant of Your Physical and Emotional Limits

Your feelings of loss and sadness will probably leave you fatigued; your ability to think clearly and make decisions may be impaired; and your low energy level may naturally slow you down. Respect what your body and mind are telling you. Nurture yourself: get daily rest; eat balanced meals; lighten your schedule as much as possible. Caring for yourself doesn’t mean feeling sorry for yourself, it means you are using survival skills.

Develop a Support System

Reaching out to others and accepting support is often difficult, particularly when you hurt so much. But the most compassionate self-action you can take during this difficult time is to find a support system of caring friends and relatives who will provide the understanding you need. Find those people who encourage you to be yourself and acknowledge your feelings - both happy and sad.

Make Use of Ritual

The funeral ritual does more than acknowledge the death of someone loved; it helps provide you with the support of caring people. Most importantly, the funeral is a way for you to express your grief outside yourself. If you eliminate this ritual, you often set yourself up to repress your feelings and you cheat everyone who cares a chance to pay tribute to someone who was, and always will be, loved.

Embrace Your Spirituality

If faith is part of your life, express it in ways that seem appropriate to you. Allow yourself to be around people who understand and support your religious beliefs. If you are angry with God because of the death of someone you loved, recognize this feeling as a normal part of your grief work. Find someone to talk with who won’t be critical of whatever thoughts and feelings you need to explore.

You may hear someone say, “With faith, you don’t need to grieve.” Don’t believe it. Having your personal faith does not insulate you from needing to talk out and explore your thoughts and feelings. To deny your grief is to invite problems that build up inside you. Express your faith, but express your grief as well.

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Allow a Search for Meaning

You may find yourself asking, “Why did he die?” “Why this way?” “Why now?” This search for meaning is another normal part of the healing process. Some questions have answers. Some do not. Actually, the healing occurs in the opportunity to pose the questions, not necessarily in answering them. Find a supportive friend who will listen responsively as you search for meaning.

Treasure Your Memories

Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after someone loved dies. Treasure them. Share them with your family and friends. Recognize that your memories may make you laugh or cry. In either case, they are a lasting part of the relationship that you had with a very special person in your life.

Move Toward Your Grief and Heal

The capacity to love requires the necessity to grieve when someone you love dies. You can’t heal unless you openly express your grief. Denying your grief will only make it become more confusing and overwhelming. Embrace your grief and heal.

Reconciling your grief will not happen quickly. Remember, grief is a process, not an event. Be patient and tolerant with yourself and never forget that the death of someone loved changes your life forever. It’s not that you won’t be happy again. It’s simply that you will never be exactly the same as you were before the death.

“The experience of grief is powerful. So, too, is your ability to help yourself heal. In doing the work of grieving, you are moving toward a renewed sense of meaning and purpose in your life.”

Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt, Center for Loss and Life Transition

Accepting a Loss

For each of us - rich or poor, young or old - there are times in our lives when we must face and deal with personal losses and the pain and sorrow they cause. Examples that come easily to mind are the death of a parent, spouse, child, or other close family member or friend. Many other events and transitions also bring with them sadness and a need to grieve:

  • Being told you have a serious, possibly terminal illness.
  • Having to give up interests and activities that have been a major part of your life.
  • Seeing serious decline in mental or physical health of someone you love.
  • Retiring from a work career or voluntary activity that has helped shape who you are and what you stand for.
  • Losing a significant part of your independence and mobility; even giving up driving a car can be a significant loss for many people.
  • Moving out of your home.
  • Saying goodbye to a favorite pet.

Losses such as these are simply part of living. Like their counterparts among the joyful occasions in our lifetime - the birth of a child or grandchild, a celebration of marriage, an enduring friendship - they are part of what it means to share in the human experience. And the emotions they create in us are part of living, as well.

Administering an Estate

While there is no requirement to use a lawyer, probate is a rather formal  procedure. One minor omission, one failure to send Great Aunt Tillie a copy of the application, or a missed deadline, can cause everything to come to a grinding halt or expose everyone to liability.

The death of a family member or friend sometimes tends to bring out the very worst in some people. Experience shows that even in close families there is a tendency to get overly emotional about relatively trivial matters at the time of a loved one’s death, such as who gets the iron frying pan and who gets the kettle. Such minor matters, or any delays or inconveniences can be upsetting, pose issues of fairness, and create unfounded suspicion among family members. Thus it generally is a very good idea to “let a lawyer do it”.

Estate Settlement Issues

Wills, probate, administration with no will, social security or pension plan benefits, veterans benefits, insurance benefits, joint property, beneficiary designations, claims of dependents and creditors, probate fees, income and estate taxes, and other issues may appear overwhelming after the death of a loved one. Sorting and settling all the details may be confusing because many of the terms are unfamiliar. This guide is not intended to be a substitute for specific individual tax, legal, or estate settlement advice, as certain aspects of the described considerations will not be the same for every estate. Accordingly, where specific advice is necessary or appropriate, consultation with a competent professional is strongly recommended. Most of all, keep in mind that while it is important to take care of all of these activities, it’s more important to move slowly at a pace that is comfortable for you during your grieving process.

Important Documents

Locate as many of the following documents as possible: wills, deeds, bank books, stock certificates, military discharge papers, social insurance card, tax forms, vehicle and boat titles, insurance policies, etc.

Death Certificates

Before the business and legal issues of the estate can be pursued, it will be necessary to obtain certified copies of the death certificate. You can order them from the funeral director or directly from the Registrar of Vital Statistics in your area. It is always better to order a few more than what you think you will need. Most agencies will only accept certified death certificates and not photocopies.

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Administration of a Will

Wills are simple, inexpensive ways to address many estates. But they don’t do it all. Here are some things that may not be accomplished in a will:

  • Named beneficiaries for certain kinds of property, although sometimes wills contain beneficiary designations that overrules previous ones.
A will cannot be used to leave:

  • Property you held in joint tenancy with someone else. At death, the deceased’s share will automatically belong to the surviving joint tenant(s). A will provision leaving the deceased’s share to someone other than the surviving joint tenant, would have no effect unless all joint tenants died simultaneously.
  • Property you held in joint tenancy with someone else. At death, the deceased’s share will automatically belong to the surviving joint tenant(s). A will provision leaving the deceased’s share to someone other than the surviving joint tenant, would have no effect unless all joint tenants died simultaneously.
  • Property that was transferred to a living trust.
  • Proceeds of a life insurance policy for which there is a named beneficiary.
  • Money in a pension plan, Individual Retirement Account (IRA), 401(k) plan, or other retirement plan.
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Probate is the process that transfers legal title of property from the estate of the person who has died (the decedent) to their proper beneficiaries.

The term probate refers to a proving of the existence of a valid will, or determining and proving who one’s legal heirs are if there is no will. Since the deceased can’t take it with them, probate is the process used to determine who gets their property.

Property left through a will usually must spend several months or a year tied up in probate court before it can be distributed to the people who inherit it.

Probate is not cheap or quick. Because probate requires court approval, the process can tie up property for a year or more. In addition, probate may be expensive. Estate lawyers who may charge a flat fee, percentage, or an hourly rate, usually handle probate. Their fees and court costs may cost up to 5% of the estate’s value, or more if problems or litigation arise. A will is a very personal document, and may reveal private family and financial issues and concerns. But once it is entered into the court record, it becomes public, and can be inspected by anyone.

What is probate?

Probate is a legal process where your named executor goes before a court to have the will proven as valid and to be given the right to administer estate property and proves the will. Typically, probate involves paperwork and if the will is challenged, a court appearance by lawyers. The lawyers and court fees are paid from estate property, which would otherwise go to the people who inherit the deceased person’s property. 

Probate usually works like this. After your death, the person you named in your will as executor - or, if you die without a will, the person appointed by a judge - files papers in the local probate court. The executor proves the validity of your will and presents the court with the value of your property.

Why is probate necessary?

The primary function of probate is transferring title of the decedent’s property to their heirs and/or beneficiaries. If there is no property to transfer, there is usually no need for probate. 

The probate process also provides a mechanism for setting a deadline for dependents and creates a time frame for the distribution of the remainder of the estate’s property to ones’ rightful heirs. 

What is involved in administering   an estate?

Your executor has many duties including:

  • Identifying and cataloging all property owned by the deceased.
  • Appraising the property, and paying all debts and taxes.
  • Proving that the will is valid and legal.
  • Distributing the property to the heirs as the will instructs.

How long does estate administration take?

The duration varies with the size and complexity of the estate, the difficulty in locating the beneficiaries who would take under the will, if there is one or under provincial law where there is no will. Delays may occur because of tax filing obligations.

If there is a will contest, or anyone objects to any actions of the executor or estate trustee, the process can take a long time. Some matters have taken decades to resolve, but a year may be closer to the norm.

What is the probate process of an uncontested will?

Typically the person named as the deceased’s executor goes to a lawyer experienced in probate matters who then prepares an application for the court and takes it, along with the will and an affidavit by a witness to the will, and files it with the probate court. 

The lawyer for the person seeking to have the will admitted to probate typically must notify all those who would have legally been entitled to receive property from the deceased if the deceased died without a will, plus all those named in the will, and give them an opportunity to file a formal objection to admitting the will to probate. 

If no objections are received, and everything seems in order, the court approves the petition, and appoints the executor.

Who is responsible for handling probate?

In most circumstances, the executor named in the will takes this job. If there isn’t a will, or the will fails to name an executor, the probate court names someone (sometimes called an administrator) to handle the process - most often the closest capable relative, or the person who inherits the bulk of the deceased person’s assets. No formal probate may be required if the property of the decedent does not require probate to transfer legal title. In such a case, the executor or estate trustee named in the will may administer the estate without obtaining probate. Or where there is no will, a close relative or friend may agree to serve as an informal estate representative. Normally, families and friends choose this person, and it is not uncommon for several people to share the responsibilities of paying debts, filing a final income tax return, and distributing property to the people who are supposed to get it.

Should I plan to avoid probate?

Probate rarely benefits your beneficiaries, and it always costs them money and time. Probate may make sense if your estate will have complicated problems, such as many debts that can’t easily be paid from the property you leave.

Whether to spend your time and effort planning to avoid probate depends on a number of factors, most notably your age, your health, and your wealth. If you’re young and in good health, a simple will may be all you need - adopting a complex probate avoidance plan now may mean you’ll have to re-do it as your life situation changes. And if you have very little property, you might not want to spend your time planning to avoid probate.

But if you’re older (say, over 50), in ill health, or own a significant amount of property, you’ll probably want to do some planning to avoid probate. Probate saving strategies can be complex and may require a lawyer to ensure your property is distributed the way you want, and to avoid income tax issues. 

How do you settle an estate?

The deceased remains a legal entity through their estate - the assets, debts, and obligations of the individual need to be settled, we can help you complete required paperwork to wrap up the deceased’s affairs.

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Important Notes
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