Whether or not you have had to make arrangements for a funeral previously, the number and sequence of things that need to arranged may be confusing and can feel overwhelming. Green Willow hopes that the information provided here, in the form of Frequently Asked Questions, will help dispel some of the confusion and help make a difficult time more manageable.
The information provided below was true and accurate at the time originally published. Green Willow Funerals Ltd cannot be held responsible for inaccuracies regarding information pertaining to other parties.
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INDEX TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- What do I do when someone dies?
- What happens when I call Green Willow Funerals?
- Is there entitlement to Financial Support towards the cost of a Funeral?
- What is involved in arranging a Funeral?
- What questions will I be asked when making arrangements for a Funeral?
- Are there advantages to having a Funeral Plan in place?
- Can I change my mind after initial arrangements have been made?
Who should I contact when someone dies?
Contact Green Willow Funerals on 02920 52 42 00. Your call will be answered by experienced sympathetic staff 24hrs per day, 365 days per year. We will ask some simple questions so that we can advise you on what happens next.
What you need to do, and what happens next, varies depending upon the situation.
There is helpful information at https://www.gov.uk/after-a-death OR, below, are some different scenarios with relevant information, which we hope you may find helpful. If in doubt, simply call us on 02920 52 42 00 and we will listen and then advise accordingly,
- If the person has passed away at home and is under 18 years of age and the death is unexpected:
You must dial 999 and request an ambulance. The health professionals will advise you from that time onwards. They will also let you know when funeral arrangements can be made. In the meantime, Green Willow will be pleased to discuss options and to advise as best we can. Tel. 02920 52 42 00.
(This advice is in line with the Procedural Response to Unexpected Deaths in Childbirth)
- If the person has passed away at home and the death was expected:
Before we are able to bring your loved-one or friend into our care, a qualified person must certify that the person has died.
If a doctor or paramedic has certified the death, contact us on 02920 52 42 00. Our staff (usually two members of staff) will attend to bring the person into our care. You do not have to contact us immediately, though we advise that this is probably the best thing to do. We will then discuss with you when we should attend.
If a doctor or paramedic has not yet attended to certify the death, you should contact the deceased person’s GP surgery and request a doctor to attend. The waiting time may vary depending upon demands upon the GP practice, but they will be mindful of the sensitivity surrounding the situation. Once the death has been certified, contact us on 02920 52 42 00. You do not have to contact us immediately though we advise that this is probably the best thing to do. We will then discuss with you when we should attend.
- If the person has passed away at home and is 18 years of age or over and the death was unexpected:
If any of the emergency services were in attendance at the time of death, they will advise you of what happens next. Let them know if you wish Green Willow Funerals to assist with funeral arrangements. They will then let you know whether they will contact us to bring the deceased person into our care OR will let you know when you can contact us to bring the deceased person into our care. We cannot attend unless or until the emergency services contact us or permit you to contact us.
- If the person passed away in hospital:
Medical staff will advise you of what happens next. Usually, there may be an opportunity for close family & friends to spend some time with the deceased person ahead of them being taken to rest in the hospital mortuary. The hospital staff will advise you of how and where you can register the death and will let you know when you are able to contact us to bring the deceased person into our care. If you have any immediate questions, of course you can contact us at any time and we will be pleased to assist as far as we are able. Tel. 02920 52 42 00.
- Other circumstances:
Other circumstances are likely to involve unexpected or sudden deaths which occur neither at home nor in a hospital or nursing home. Should you be present at such an occasion, your first call will likely be to the emergency services on 999, or a member of the public may have alerted them already. Emergency service staff will advise you of what happens next. As always, we will do our best to assist and advise, so far as we are able, should you contact us with any questions on 02920 52 42 00.
What happens when I call Green Willow Funerals?
If you wish to contact us urgently, we have experienced sympathetic staff on duty 24hrs per day, 365 days of the year, to answer your call and assist or advise according to the nature of your call. Telephone: 02920 52 00 42
Our office hours are:
Monday-Thursday 8.30am-5.00pm and Fridays 8.30am-4.30pm.
Our on-call teams will answer calls made outside of office hours, during weeknights and throughout the weekend and over holiday periods.
If you are calling us following the death of a loved-one or friend, our staff will take you through a number of questions, the answers to which will enable us to serve and advise you, and to agree any immediate practical arrangements (for example if you require us to attend to bring the deceased person into our care, or to rest at a hospital where the Coroner is involved – see next paragraph). Details will be passed promptly to one of our team of Funeral Directors and he or she will contact you to agree a mutually convenient time and place to discuss arrangements for the funeral in greater detail (see Question 5 below if you would like to know what type of questions to expect, though it is the role of our Funeral Director to guide you through the arrangement process so you may prefer to wait until you speak with them personally).
Where the death is sudden and unexpected, the Coroner’s Office may be involved. Their role is to establish the cause of death where the death was sudden or unnatural. In such instances, your loved-one or friend will usually be taken to rest in a hospital mortuary until such time that the Coroner instructs that funeral arrangements can be made, and they may then be brought into the care of Green Willow Funerals. Green Willow Funerals is legally bound to act in accordance with the Coroner’s instructions. We may be able to discuss certain arrangements in broad terms but we cannot act contrary to the Coroner’s instructions. We ask your forbearance on occasions when there may be delays that are beyond our control.
Is there entitlement to Financial Support towards the cost of a Funeral?
Statutory and income-dependent support is available and we are pleased to signpost you to information that is available online. The information below was correct at the time of going to print.
Bereavement payment: https://www.gov.uk/bereavement-support-payment
Widowed Parents Allowance: https://www.gov.uk/widowed-parents-allowance
Bereavement Allowance: https://www.gov.uk/bereavement-allowance
You may get a Funeral Payment if you are on a low income and need help to pay for a funeral you are arranging. Be aware that you may have to repay money that you get back from the deceased’s estate.
You can claim a Funeral Payment using form SF200 or over the phone. https://www.gov.uk/funeral-payments/how-to-claim
Telephone: 0345 606 0265
Welsh language: 0345 606 0275
Textphone: 0345 606 0285
Welsh language: 0345 606 0295
NB Please note that call charges may apply depending on your provider.
What is involved in arranging a funeral?
If you have not had to make arrangements for a funeral previously, the number and sequence of things that need to arranged may be confusing and can feel overwhelming. Green Willow hopes that this information will help dispel some of the confusion and help make a difficult time more manageable.
When a doctor or qualified person certifies a death, they will provide the next of kin (or person acting as their agent) with a Medical Certificate. This document is needed to register the death. It is wise to make an appointment at the local Registry Office (some hospitals have Registrars based at the hospital) in order to register the death as soon as practicable but definitely within 5 days of the death. If the Coroner’s Office is involved, the procedure may be different and the Coroner’s Office will advise of any procedures to be followed.
Registrars will issue a Green Form. This form authorises Green Willow Funerals to proceed with finalising funeral arrangements and submitting formal applications for cremation or burial. Therefore, this form should be handed to Green Willow Funerals as soon as practicable (often at the time one of our team of Funeral Directors meets with you to go through detailed arrangements). Where the Coroner’s Office is involved, either they will supply formal authorisation directly to Green Willow Funerals or they make ask the Next-of-Kin (or their agent) to attend the Registry Office and then pass the Green Form to Green Willow Funerals in the usual way.
Once our Funeral Directors has met with you to discuss arrangements for the funeral, they will begin working to ensure all of the various elements are set in place as per your instructions and preferences. Please see Question 5 below for a list of questions you may be asked when discussing more detailed arrangements for a funeral. The list is provided for your information in case you would like to know what to expect in advance of meeting with a Funeral Director. You may prefer to wait until the Funeral Director meets with you and they will guide you through all necessary arrangements one step at a time.
The amount of contact between the Funeral Director and you may depend upon the nature or complexity of the arrangements. Generally, there may be further conversations or correspondence regarding any Press Notices, the contents and appearance of the Order of Service, appointments for viewing and collecting & collating images where a Visual Tribute has been asked for.
Should you have any concerns, or feel the need to double-check details or arrangements, then please do not hesitate to telephone or email the Funeral Director, whose contact details will be on the business card left with you (usually on the bottom left-hand side of the Green Willow Funerals Ltd folder left with you).
If you have offered to provide the Funeral Director with further information (which you may not have had at the time of the arrangement) or to bring items (e.g. clothes and photographs) to the funeral home, it is important that this is done as soon as possible please.
Similarly, if you have not yet made decisions regarding very sensitive aspects of arrangements, the sooner you are able to communicate your wishes to us then the better-placed we will be to seek to fulfil them. This is especially important in terms of personal preferences in connection with embalming and whether or not to visit your loved-one or friend ahead of the funeral.
Green Willow Funerals Ltd.’s policy is not to embalm unless this is specifically asked for, or in circumstances where we believe it is necessary. Essentially, embalming is a cosmetic and preservative measure. Our reasons for not embalming as a matter of course is because the process is invasive and substances used pose a risk to the wellbeing of staff and the environment. In some instances (such as natural burial) embalming is not allowed.
The decision whether or not to visit and view your loved-one or friend can be a harrowing one. Religious or cultural views may determine your preference. Otherwise, we will be guided by your personal choice.
Once your loved-one or friend is resting with Green Willow Funerals, what happens next depends on whether burial or cremation is preferred.
Where cremation is requested, since 2009, as a consequence of recommendations arising from reports on the criminal actions of Dr Harold Shipman, a second independent Doctor must confirm the cause of death. Doctors have demanding workloads so, on occasions, there may be some delay ahead of receiving this confirmation. This is a legal requirement, which means we may be unable to arrange formal viewings prior to confirmation being received, so we ask your understanding and forbearance in such circumstances, which are beyond our control.
Where burial is requested, either a grave can be purchased or a Grave Deed is required to prove ownership of an existing grave where the burial is to take place. Deeds for existing graves can sometimes be lost or mislaid. In such circumstances, it may be necessary for the person wishing to arrange the burial to make a Statutory Declaration where they will be asked to swear an oath before a Justice of the Peace or a solicitor, declaring that they have a legal right to request the opening and preparation of the grave for a burial. Green Willow will be able to give further advice about Grave Deeds and how consent from others with rights (e.g. siblings of the applicant) may be necessary.
Your Green Willow Funerals Funeral Director will help prepare all necessary paperwork and submit this to the relevant authorities.
What questions will I be asked when making arrangements for a funeral?
Below you will find a list of typical questions asked by our team of Funeral Directors when they assist you with making arrangements for a funeral.
Some of the questions are simple and straightforward. Others are of a particularly sensitive nature. We publish the questions here so that, if you choose to read them, it may help you prepare yourself ahead of meeting with the Funeral Director. However, you may prefer not to read through them and simply allow our Funeral Director to guide you through all the necessary questions and considerations when you meet with them. Our team of experienced Funeral Directors will help ensure that everything will be in place for a fitting funeral. However, if you would like a ‘heads-up’ of the type of questions that you will be asked, then read on:
- Personal details of the person acting as the client (usually the main point of contact for all arrangements and the person responsible for ensuring the funeral is paid for).
- Personal details of the deceased (enabling us to prepare the necessary formalities regarding paperwork).
- Is cremation or burial required? Our Funeral Director can explain the services and costs in connection with respective crematoria and cemeteries. Please note that availability (of space in cemeteries and of times at crematoria) is beyond our control.
- Should personal effects (e.g. jewellery) remain with your loved-one or should they be returned. If returned, then to whom?
- How should the deceased be dressed? – in clothes chosen by the family or in a robe provided by us?
- What type of coffin is required? There are 3 main types:
- Traditional Wooden Coffin
- Eco-friendly Coffin (e.g. woven bamboo / woven willow / woven grasses / wool coffin etc.)
- Alternative Bespoke Coffin (a wide range of coffins with stock images or there is scope to design your own). Examples of bespoke coffins include coffins with striking images of warships that ex-sailors served on, steam locomotives, sports-themed, floral themed, collage of images of the person that has passed away, a replica of a beloved guitar-case, star-wars, Dr Who…. you name it – we will do our utmost to provide it.
- Who would you like to lead the funeral service or ceremony? Would this be a member of Clergy known to you? A member of Clergy that we ask to officiate? A Humanist or Civil Celebrant?
- Are there dates preferred for the funeral or are there dates to avoid for any reason?
- Are floral tributes welcome or flowers from family members only?
- Will donations be invited and, if so, for what cause or charity?
- Would you like a notice placed in a newspaper or other publication?
- Would you like an Order of Service to be prepared (these are the leaflets handed out at the funeral, usually with a photograph of the deceased person on the front cover and words of hymns or poems published in the centre pages and details of the venue for the after-funeral gathering on the back page)? How many will be required?
- Will there be a service or ceremony held elsewhere (i.e. ahead of or before the service or ceremony at the crematorium or graveside)? If so, where will this take place?
- What music, if any, is requested? This includes entry music, any hymns, music for reflection and remembrance, exit music etc.
- Would you like the funeral service/ceremony recorded? There are various options now available, which include a straightforward recording of the service/ceremony or a webcast, which allows family and friends who are unable to attend in person to observe proceedings from anywhere with an internet connection (feedback suggests quality of images are acceptable but can be effected by quality of internet signal; the webcast is a view from a stationary camera and not a production involving different views from multiple cameras).
This list is not exhaustive. One of our team of experienced and knowledgeable Funeral Directors will guide you through all necessary arrangements.
Are there advantages to having a Funeral Plan in place?
Yes, absolutely. The main reasons people take out Funeral Plans are:
- Ensuring wishes for their funeral are recorded.
Some people have strong views on how they want things to go for their funeral and so record their wishes in a plan rather than leaving the decisions to others.
Others do not want to leave others with the strain and stress of having to make decisions and choices. Discussing arrangements for one’s own funeral may seem and feel a little strange but it can alleviate pressure on those who would otherwise have to make arrangements at a already difficult time. Moreover, there is a certain comfort and reassurance that comes from knowing you are fulfilling the wishes of the loved-one or friend who expressed their specific requirements in a Funeral Plan.
- Ensuring a funeral is paid for (and avoiding increasing funeral costs)
There are various ways to pay for a Funeral Plan. These include payment in total; interest free payments over 12 months (with a minimum deposit to cover admin fees); monthly instalments over a period of 2 – 30 years; low-cost monthly instalments until death or your 90th birthday. These options are designed to meet the financial circumstances of most people considering to take out a Funeral Plan.
All people taking out a Funeral Plan with Green Willow Funerals are assured of our Professional Fees being frozen at the level they were quoted on the day the plan is signed. Your payment is held in trust by Golden Charter Ltd. At the time of need, the value of the plan will cover our Professional Fees and, depending upon the detail of the plan taken out, will cover a part or the whole of the costs of disbursements (third party costs such as cremation, burial, press notice etc.).
When you take out a Funeral Plan with Green Willow Funerals, our Funeral Plan Arranger will go through options with you in detail, at your convenience in the comfort of your own home or at one of our offices in Cardiff, Newport or Dinas Powys.
We invite prospective plan-holders to bring a friend or relative with them to the appointment, and we provide copies of the plan for the next-of-kin or executors. Our aim in doing so is to be transparent about the content and the cost of your plan. Nobody, including Green Willow, wants upset or confusion when it is the next-of-kin or executor we will be dealing with at the time of need.
- Alleviating the stress experienced by those who have the responsibility of making arrangements at the time of need.
Many families say that knowing the wishes of their loved-one or friend helps take the strain off their minds and shoulders in terms of making decisions about arrangements. They feel a sense of reassurance, knowing that the arrangements in place are honouring and fulfilling the wishes expressed by the plan-holder.
If you would like to know more, please contact us on 02920 52 42 00 or email email@example.com
Can I change my mind after initial arrangements have been made?
With so may tasks requiring attention following the loss of a loved-one or friend, we understand that you may not remember everything that you want to say at the time you first meet with one of our Funeral Directors. Also, following the original arrangement, you may become aware of something you would like to change or add.
Where this is the case, please contact the Funeral Director whom you met with as soon as possible. The sooner you let us know of any different or additional requirements, the sooner we can determine whether it is possible for us to meet your wishes within the time remaining ahead of the day of the funeral. Lack of communication can lead to major upsets and disappointments, which everyone wants to avoid.
We aim to work to with you to accommodate your wishes as far as practicable. However, some matters are beyond our immediate control e.g. availability at crematoria and cemeteries; availability of a particular member of clergy or celebrant; deadlines for submission of images for visual tributes and content for Orders of Service etc.
In particular, should you wish to change the date or time of the funeral service, it is essential that you inform us as soon as possible, and before notifying others. We can then liaise with the crematorium, cemetery and others (e.g. the person officiating at the funeral) accordingly. Not until we have done this will be in a position to confirm whether it is possible to make the desired change. We have experienced rare incidences where families have contacted the person leading the funeral service or ceremony and agreed a change of date with them, but have not thought to inform us or to update notices published in newspapers. Naturally, we book the crematorium and allocate our staff and vehicles in line with the details agreed with our Funeral Director at the time of the original arrangement. You may, of course, wish to discuss availability with a member of the Clergy or a Celebrant ahead of discussing your preferences with us. However, agreeing changes in dates and time with them after agreeing details with our Funeral Director, without further communicating with us, may lead to confusion and potentially, major upset and disappointment.
Should the changes you desire involve additional costs, which we need to pay to a third party (payments known as disbursements), these need to be paid for at the time of requesting the change. Once our Funeral Director is aware of your wishes, she or he can advise you of any costs involved and also of payment methods.