“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.
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.
It is very simple...
We treat people like we’d like to be treated.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
The actual opening and closing of the grave is just one component of the opening and closing fee. Due to safety issues which arise around the use of machinery on cemetery property and the protection of other gravesites, the actual opening and closing of the grave is conducted by cemetery grounds personnel only
To remember and to be remembered are natural human needs. A permanent memorial in a cemetery provides a focal point for remembrance and memorializing the deceased.
Throughout human history, memorialization of the dead has been a key component of almost every culture. Psychologists say that remembrance practices, from the funeral or memorial service to permanent memorialization,serve an important emotional function for survivors by helping them bring closure and allowing the healing process to begin. Providing a permanent resting place for the deceased isa dignified treatment for a loved one’s mortal remains, which fulfills the natural human desire for memorialization.
When a cemetery runs out of land, it will continue to operate and serve the community. Most cemeteries have crematoriums, and some historic cemeteries even offer guided tours.
We think of cemetery lands as being in perpetuity. There are cemeteries throughout the world that have been in existence for hundreds of years.
There is no law that states a specific time from for burial. Considerations that will affect timeline include the need to secure all permits and authorizations, notification of family and friends,preparation of cemetery site and religious considerations. Public health laws may have limitations on the maximum length of time allowed to pass prior to final disposition. Contactus for more details.
No. Embalming is a choice which depends on factors like if there is to be an open casket viewing of the body or if there is to be an extended time between death and interment. Public health laws may require embalming if the body is going to be transported by air or rail.
Besides ground burial, some cemeteries offerinterment in lawn crypts or entombment in mausoleums. In addition, most cemeteries provide choices for those who have selected cremation. These often include placement of cremated remains in a niche of a columbarium or interment in an urn space.
These are the outside containers into which the casket is placed. Burial vaults are designed to protect the casket and may be made of a variety or combination of materials including concrete,stainless steel, galvanized steel, copper, bronze, plastic or fiberglass. A grave liner is a lightweight version of a vault which simply keeps the grave surface from sinking in.
Most large, active cemeteries have regulations that require the use of a basic grave liner for maintenance and safety purposes. Either a grave liner or a burial vault will satisfy these requirements. Some smaller rural or churchyard cemeteries do not require use of a container to surround the casket in the grave.
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.
Some common methods of final disposition of cremated remains are:
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,
Cremation is a process of reducing the body to bone fragments by applying intense heat for a period of two to three hours. The cremated remains, which are commonly referred to as “ashes,” are removed from the cremation chamber. They are then processed into finer fragments and placed in a temporary container. The ashes typically weigh between three and six pounds. An urn may be selected for the final disposition of the cremated remains.
Cremations occur at a crematorium in a special furnace called a cremation chamber or retort. Regulations allow only one cremation at a time.
A casket is not required however, law states that at a minimum, the deceased must be placed into a rigid combustible container. Many options of caskets and containers are available to you.
Many personal items may be placed in the casket. However, some items may need to be removed prior to the cremation process. All items left in the casket will be destroyed during the cremation. Your funeral director can advise you on what items may stay and what items must be removed from the casket.
Cremation does not limit the type of funeral service that may be chosen. The same options that apply to earth burial are available with cremation. Some of these choices include: casket type, location of the service and visitation, music selection, open or closed casket, and the display of personal mementos. Some families elect to have a complete service at the funeral home or place of worship. Others prefer to have a procession to the crematorium similar to that often done to the cemetery for an earth burial.
Embalming is not mandatory however, some circumstances may require it. If you prefer an open casket with a visitation prior to the service, embalming is highly recommended.
An urn is a container designed to hold cremated remains permanently. It may be constructed from a variety of materials such as wood, bronze, copper, steel, pewter, granite, marble, clay pottery, or fine porcelain. We have a large selection of urns available designed to reflect the lifestyle of an individual. Urns may also be personalized by engraving. Urns also come in a variety of sizes that allow more than one member of the family to have a portion of the cremated remains.
The cremated remains may be buried in an existing cemetery plot or a new plot may be purchased.
The urn may be placed in a niche in an above ground structure called a columbarium.
Some cemeteries have scattering areas on their property. Cremated remains may be scattered on private or public property if authorization is obtained. Properties may be bought and sold so it is important to know that once the scattering takes place, the cremated remains are irretrievable. Scattering on either public or private property may offend some people and there may be laws prohibiting such action.
You may wish for the cremated remains to be shipped to another country. We can look after these arrangements for you. You may also be permitted to take the cremated remains yourself to another country. Check with us first and we can assist you to obtain any additional documentation that may be required.
Many people still prefer to have the urn at home with them.
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?
Who is not eligible for Military Funeral Honors?
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: http://www.archives.gov/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf
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
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
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:
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
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:
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
Secure the Vital Statistics of Deceased:
Meet with the Funeral Home Decide within a few hours:
Decisions to be made regarding burial of urn:
If Casket Burial:
If Casket Entombment:
(Required to establish rights for insurance, pensions, survivor benefits, ownership, etc.)
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.
▢ 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
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.
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.
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.
Before the Funeral
After the Funeral
Above all, just listening and your concern and presence will help.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.