Whitley's Funeral Home


Many people have questions during this difficult time. We want to make sure you have all of the information you need to make informed decisions. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us, and we will help you in any that we can.

The following information is provided to give you an idea of the steps you should take in the event of a loss.

What is the first thing to do when a death occurs in the family?
If a death occurs at a home, hospital room, nursing center, or hospice, you need to let an emergency medical technician, police officer, nurse, or skilled attendant help you to notify your funeral director.  They can then advise the director as to when they should arrive to take your loved one back to the funeral home for proper care. 

It is very important for you to also consider if you want your loved one embalmed or if cremation might be your intention. 

Except in certain special cases, embalming is not required by law. Embalming may be necessary, however, if you select certain funeral arrangements, such as a funeral with a viewing. If you do not want to embalm, you usually have the right to choose an arrangement that does not require you to pay for it, such as direct cremation or immediate burial. 

You should also contact your clergy for spiritual support. Along with your funeral director, both can effectively plan the details for your service like time and place of receiving, the actual ceremony, and/or graveside arrangements.

Who will help with decisions on the type of services we decide to use?
Your funeral director will give you recommendations as to what is standard protocol and details of planning all of your arrangements.  If you have special requests or want the input of additional family members or friends, all of these sources will be beneficial in making the right choices for you.  We would recommend for you to consider pre-arrangement at some time in the future. 

How and who do I notify of the death?
Have a close family member or friend help you make a list of outer family members, other friends, your employer, and others you feel need to be notified. Ask others in your family to help contact those on the list. Also, ask family members to help answer phone calls and greet visitors who may come to the residence to pay their respects. You may want to record each encounter in a guest register.

What important or specific information will be needed of our departed loved one?
You should know the birth date, birthplace, names of father and mother, Social Security number, Veteran's discharge or claim number, marital status, and education history. Any or all of this information will be needed to comply with state laws regarding death certificates. The funeral home can help you determine how many copies of the death certificate (presently $10.00 per certificated copy in North Carolina) you will need and can order for you.  It is strongly advisable to put this information in a special protective location (fireproof safe) so that it can be retrieved quickly when needed.

What information will be needed for an obituary?
The essential information for the obituary would include age, place of birth, length of illness, occupation with years of service, civic or church involvement, educational background, a list of surviving family members, the time and place of visitation, services, and burial as appropriate.  We would strongly recommend that you make short biographical notes about the person before visiting with your funeral director to use if he prepares the obituary. 

If you decide to create the obituary yourself, please try to e-mail it or bring a copy of it to the funeral home so that it can be properly amended to the specifications of the various newspapers you may want it placed in.  We can scan your photographs to be used with obituaries as well as use them in customized memorial folders or a DVD.   

What decisions need to be made for the visitation and funeral service?
If you would just call or e-mail us, we would like to assist you with pre-information before your visit with the funeral director. You should also arrange care for the household including meals, child care, and cleaning. 

Also, don't forget to arrange for a neighbor or friend to stay at the house while you are away at the funeral service and visitation. 

How is cremation handled?   Cremation is a personal choice for a family.  We, at Whitley's, have assembled information and comments from people all over America as to various ways cremation can be handled with respect and honor.  There is a twenty-four hour waiting period in North Carolina before cremation can take place. 

First, you can have direct cremation whereby families elect no viewing, then cremation is arranged. 

Second, direct cremation services can have additional services whereby families can have a memorial service arranged at a church, funeral home chapel, graveside, or private residence. Many of these families may even have a visitation period at the funeral home or home where the urn, pictures, video presentation, etc. are used to honor the life that has been lived. 

Third, families can have a traditional funeral service with embalming and the use of a minimum/cremation casket with a physical viewing and funeral service.  Cremation is then arranged with the cremains returned to the family, burial at a cemetery, or scattered in an appropriate place.


What should be done after the funeral is over with?

1) One of the first things to do is obtain the will, contact the executor, and the deceased's attorney if there is one.  In North Carolina you can settle an estate on your own if you have the proper foreknowledge.  You need to visit the local county clerk of superior court where the deceased lived to obtain the administration papers.  Be sure to take the will, automobile and real estate tax records, updated balances of monetary accounts, and a notepad for writing down instructive information.

Please be aware that the clerk of superior court office can not give you advice, only procedures.  If you try to settle the estate yourself, you must do all of the required paperwork, gather the necessary information, and process that information on a specific timetable.

2) You should also notify the insurance companies involved to send you the required claim forms.  We can help you make these claims as well as make an assignment so that the insurance companies will pay the funeral home directly.  If there is any overage, it will be paid directly to the beneficiary.

3)  We will submit a statement from the funeral director directly to the Social Security Administration (form SSA-721) who will pay your spouse a one time death benefit of $ 255.00 if the deceased worked the required time to receive full benefits or had dependent children.  Other benefits like retirement adjustment or widower's pension can also be applied for if you qualify. Most checks today are automatically deposited at your bank.

4) We will also assist you with filing a death benefit with the Veterans Administration who can be helpful if you qualify.  A copy of the deceased's honorary discharge will be necessary to process this claim plus get you a U.S. Flag or a military government marker at the cemetery.  Currently, the VA will pay monetary benefits up to $ 700.00 if the veteran qualifies.  

5) You should then determine your outstanding debts, installment payments, credit card balances, etc. Some creditors may have provided insurance riders to absolve the debt. Contact creditors if there is any anticipated delay in payment. Most creditors will work with you during this difficult time.

6) You should also contact the utility departments (electricity, phone, gas, water, cable, etc...) to discontinue service if the deceased was living alone.

7) At some point, you will need to decide to whom you will send acknowledgement and thank you notes. And most importantly, allow yourself time to grieve.