Here you will find common questions that are frequently asked of our Funeral Directors and Attendant’s, as well as the Embalmers.
Our staff has complied these questions and answers, with the hope that they will help answer some questions you or your family may have.
There are many options available when cremation takes places. Costs will vary depending on the type of service that is chosen. Cremation can occur following a funeral service, or following a visitation, prayer service or informal gathering. Cremation can also occur prior to a Memorial Service.
Cremation is a form of final disposition for your loved one. There are many options for the final disposition of the urn that will hold the cremated remains.
With cremation there are legal requirements and documents that need to be completed. Once all of this documentation is in order the cremation will take place, usually within 2 – 5 days. The funeral home will look after these necessary requirements. Public or private services can be held before or after cremation.
Yes, at the time of the funeral arrangements, the family will be advised that a private or public viewing may be set for those wishing to pay respects before the cremation takes place.
McInnis and Holloway has a policy that requires identification by a family member or friend prior to cremation. This ensures peace of mind for the family that it is indeed their loved one and the cremation container they have chosen.
We ask that you bring in a full set of clothing, including undergarments, as this provides dignity to your loved one.
Embalming is not required by law. Even though one chooses cremation, often families choose to view or have the body present at services prior to cremation and in this case we would recommend embalming the body.
Yes, you can have a cremation take place and choose not to have a funeral or memorial service.
For all services the casket may be present, allowing the opportunity for family and frineds to view if they wish.
The Alberta Funeral Service Regulatory Board requires that your loved one be placed in a suitable enclosed container in order to be placed into the crematorium. This is done out of respect for the deceased as well as for safety of the crematorium operator.
It is also very important to select a suitable urn where the cremated remains can be safely held. You may want to put some thought into where the urn will be interred. We have many options available for you.
Yes, Funeral Homes are not a cemetery for the final disposition of an URN.
The recommended method of disposition is permanent placement of the cremated remains in a cemetery or columbarium. This allows families an opportunity to visit the site as the years go by, to remember and reflect. An Urn can also be kept at home or scattered in a cemetery scattering garden.
Cremated remains may not be scattered or otherwise disposed of in any public area or on private property without permission from the owner of the property. The Cemetery Act states: If the remains of a cremated body are not claimed within five years from the date of cremation and if the owner of the crematory/funeral home has been unable to arrange for disposition by a responsible relative of the deceased, the crematorium/funeral home may bury the remains at their discretion.
I don’t want the “ashes”, what am I supposed to do with them? Can’t you keep them or throw them away?
The “ashes” or cremated remains are human remains so the funeral home will not permanently keep them or throw them away. The funeral home can arrange for short term safekeeping until the family has decided on the final disposition.
There are many options to choose from when deciding final disposition for cremated remains. During funeral arrangements the Funeral Director can suggest several options to help with your decision.
If you want to scatter on private property, make sure you have the owner’s permission. Also be aware that it is illegal to scatter cremated remains in a water way that is located in a National Park.
Some cemeteries have scattering gardens as well.
We have a brochure regarding scattering and we suggest that you read through it before you make your final decision.
If this is the family’s desire, we can assist you in making this timeless keepsake of your loved one. A portion of cremated remains will be required to have the diamond made.
There are also other jewelry options available that can hold cremated remains or a lock of hair.
Any gold from dental work or jewelry placed on your loved one for cremation melts during the cremation process and cannot be recovered.
Not necessarily, it is true that cemeteries are limited in size by their footprint in the community, however cemeteries do have land available and they do expand when the need arises.
Each cemetery has its own unique policies as far as what kind of burial plots are available for purchase and how many spots are available within that plot.
A licensed Funeral Director can discuss options available to the family at any time.
You can bury an urn containing cremated remains on your own property but this would not be recommended, should you want to sell the property in time it could hinder the sale.
It is illegal to bury a casket on your property. For burial it is required that you purchase a cemetery plot in a registered cemetery.
I was told that the Province requires the casket be buried in a concrete box. Is this true and what is the advantage of a concrete box?
Each cemetery has its own policy regarding requirements for an outer container (plywood, concrete or fiberglass). The Funeral Director will advise you of any such requirements at the time of arrangements.
The advantages of a concrete liner or a burial vault are the protection they afford to the casket once it has been buried. The concrete liner will provide basic protection from the weight of the earth and from any cemetery equipment such as backhoes. A burial vault is sealed above ground and protects the casket from coming into contact with any earthly elements such as water, as well as the weight of the earth and any cemetery equipment such as backhoes.
There are several different options to choose from and your Funeral Director will go through these options with you
When you purchase a grave plot from the cemetery, it is permanent. A casket is only disinterred at the requested of the family or Executor for a specific reason.
I am thinking of attending a prayer service (or a Buddhist service) at your chapel and I don’t know what to do, or if I should even come.
Anyone may attend a public funeral service. We would always invite and encourage friends to attend to show their support to the family. Our funeral staff will be there to assist you.
We would encourage you to if you are unsure of what to do to approach our funeral staff for assistance.
Jewish funeral customs vary from sect to sect, among Orthodox Jews.
Orthodox Jewish Funerals
- At an Orthodox Jewish funeral, all of the mourners must keep their heads covered. The men are expected to wear the small cap, or “yarmulke,” while the women are required to wear headscarves. If you don’t bring a yarmulke or headscarf with you, the synagogue will usually be able to provide one for you to use.
- At a Conservative Jewish funeral service, the men are obligated to wear yarmulkes, but the women do not have to cover their heads, so no head scarf is required. In addition to the yarmulke, men should also be dressed in semi-formal attire — a dark suit with a dark tie. Women should dress modestly and conservatively as well.
- At a Reform Jewish funeral service, the head covering is a matter of choice for both men and women. You may see some men wearing yarmulkes, while others do not, and the same is true for women and headscarves.
If you are attending a service at a Mosque or other Worship Centers it would be respectful to follow the customs of the faith. In a Mosque out of respect you should remove your shoes and if a head cover is normally worn they will have extras available to use.
Embalming is a procedure in which the body is sanitized, restored to a lifelike appearance and preserved via chemicals being introduced into the body.
In Alberta, embalming is only required by law if we are transporting the deceased by common carrier, i.e. commercial airplane/transport truck/railway.
For sanitation reasons, if you are planning to have a viewing of your loved one, we recommend embalming.
Embalming will vary depending on the condition of the body. The process can take from 1 to 4 hours depending on the individual person and the specific details involved in their death.
Embalming can last for many years. It depends on the environment and whether the casket will be in a sealed vault.
Many factors play a role in the timeline for decomposition. Illness, medications and the place of passing all play a key role.
Keep in mind that it takes time to prepare your loved one for viewing, but we do our best to meet your time requirements.
It is advisable to meet with the Funeral Director first to choose a casket and bring in clothing for your loved one.
This depends on the amount of preparation required for the deceased, as well as the time required to receive a casket or cremation container to be delivered from the supplier.
It is preferable that the clothes and undergarments be clean as this is more dignified for the deceased. Shoes are not required but complete the outfit.
The clothing you provide is based on what you would like your loved one to wear. The clothing they felt the most comfort in.
If you choose to buy new clothing for your loved one, we can get sizes and measurements for you to get the proper fit.
In most cases the deceased had a favourite piece of clothing, and due to weight lose we can make small alterations to take it in to make the clothing fit better.
We can definitely make arrangements to have the garments dry-cleaned.
For every death that occurs in the Province of Alberta, the death needs to be registered before the final disposition of the deceased takes place, we complete this for you.
The government documentation should be filed as soon as possible. The government needs to be advised of the death to ensure overpayments are not made into accounts; otherwise the family will be responsible to pay the money back plus interest.
Our Family Care representative can assist you with these forms.
The family or executor has up to one year from the date of death to apply for the Death Benefit (Maximum of $2500.00) from CPP. Application should be done as soon as possible after the contributor’s passing.
If there is land in the estate which is solely owned by the deceased, the Alberta Land Titles Office requires the Executor to obtain probate. If there is no land, then you may still require probate if the estate contains more than about $30,000.00 with a financial institution.
Most financial institutions have a policy that they will not release any funds unless the Will is probated, or the estate is relatively small.
No, some families may choose to look after the estate themselves including providing the will and dispersing the funds without the assistance of a lawyer.
If you are administering an estate in Alberta, one of the decisions you will be faced with is whether to probate the Will. You will soon be asked by financial institutions and other organizations whether you will be obtaining probate.
Probate is the process by which the Executor of an estate applies to the Surrogate Court of Alberta to get the Will “verified” or “approved.” A Judge of the Surrogate Court of Alberta will review the Will and the estate inventory and if satisfied, will issue Letters of Probate. This will be a document issued by the Surrogate Court, which can be relied upon by everybody dealing with the estate.
The Alberta Courts charge a fee to process a probate application. In Alberta, the maximum fee the Surrogate Court charges for a probate application is about $600.00. On top of that, if the Executor hires a lawyer to do the application to Court for probate, then there will be legal fees as well.
To make an application to the Surrogate Court of Alberta for probate, you will need to do a very comprehensive and complete inventory of the estate, complete with values of the assets. Once this information is gathered, and the application is complete and submitted to Surrogate Court, it will usually be processed in about three weeks.
There is a funeral benefit through CPP (Canada Pension Plan) for anyone who has contributed to CPP during their working life, up to a maximum of $2500 can be provided.
There is also assistance through the Last Post Fund of Canada for eligible Veterans.
Some families may be eligible for benefits through work or other organizations. We can also customize a service to best suit your financial situation.
There is the CPP Death Benefit which pays one-time benefit up to a maximum of $2500, and this is based on the individual who has contributed to this plan during their working years.
There is also a Survivor’s Pension through CPP (Canada Pension Plan) for the spouse or common law partner of the deceased.
There is also a Children’s Benefit for those under the age of 18 and/or those over 18 attending college or university.
Our Family Care member would be honoured to assist the family in the completion of the forms required for the CPP programs.
As a full service funeral home, we offer a wide variety of services and facilities with costs for a family ranging from approx. $4000.00 – $12,000.00, with an average of about $6000.00 – $8000.00.
It is estimated that there are 48.5 man hours required for a funeral service. This would include:
- Securing a release and transfer from the place of death, embalming and sanitation of the deceased, cosmetology, hairdressing, dressing and casketing.
- Funeral Director meets with the family to coordinate the funeral service and coordination of all details with respect to the cemetery or crematorium, clergy, casket, flowers and musicians.
- Record keeping and clerical assistance, including completion and filing of all government forms, securing necessary permits and preparation and placement of obituaries.
- Secretarial services for memorial book, service folders, statements of death and general inquiries regarding funeral service.
- Arranging flowers for visitation and preparing viewing room and staff for visitation to meet and direct people.
- Preparation and cleaning of motor vehicles for the funeral service.
- Arranging flowers, casket and general set up for the funeral service.
- Staffing for the funeral service and general cleanup of the facilities and equipment before and after the service.
- Invoicing and general bookkeeping duties, as well as a visit by Family Care staff to assist with benefit applications, government forms, cancelling pensions, etc.
- A factor that contributes to the cost of the funeral is the type of casket that is chosen, as well as flowers, obituaries, musicians and other service enhancements that are not included in our regular schedule of fees.
While there has not yet been a cemetery in Calgary that has been designated “true” green, there has been discussion about the possibility of one being started. McInnis and Holloway are able to provide a casket that does meet green requirements and can be used for either burial or cremation.
With burial the location of the cemetery gives the family a permanent place for them to memorialize the loss of their loved one and place to visit their family member.
The weight of a casket will vary depending on the casket selected and the materials used in the construction of it. Caskets may range from 60 pounds but could be 200 pounds.
If the weight of a specific casket is needed we are able to have the manufacture provide the correct weight.
Although there is no set time for a funeral service the average length is approximately one hour.
The length of time will depend on how many people are speaking, the number of musical selections, the service being held in a church or another venue, whether communion is being served, tributes and readings.
Following the approximately one hour funeral service there is often a reception or gathering (with refreshments) allowing you time to meet and speak with the family. There may also be a procession to the graveside service.
When to have a service is often dependent on a number of factors. If the disposition is burial then arrangement for the cemetery plot will need to be considered and may dictate the day the grave can be open.
If cremation is to take place before the service then time is required to have the urn prepared and cremated remains placed inside.
Consideration needs to be given as to when family may be able to gather. Many families need to travel long distances and time is given for them to arrive. The facilities used for the services need to be arranged and coordinated with the family as to the dates they are considering.
The role of the Funeral Director is to help in the coordination of these various situations and circumstances.
Absolutely, an evening or weekend service can be accommodated. The availability of the venue, such as the funeral home chapel or reception centre, church, hall, clubs, etc., must first be secured before a date is confirmed.
Quite often having the ability and flexibility to have an evening or weekend service can greatly alleviate many concerns the family may have while planning their particular service.
There is a surcharge applicable for evening and weekend services and the Funeral Director will advise on those costs during the arrangements.
There are many ways to pay tribute and honour your loved ones life and allow for a time for family and friends to show their support. It can be simple, elaborate, religious or contemporary.
These services can be in a church, funeral home, reception centre or community hall.
No, the funeral service does not have to happen immediately, it is up to your family and a time that works for everyone.
Yes, we have clergy and celebrants that we can contact that will facilitate a meaningful funeral service no matter what faith is followed or if you desire a more non-religious service.
An ordained clergy person is not required to preside at funeral services nor does the presider need to be licensed in any manner.
An individual who feels a comfort level with public speaking and will honour the life of the deceased person is all that is required. We would be honoured to contact a Celebrant that meets your needs.
No, it is not required to have a Celebrant for your funeral service. Should you want a Celebrant, we would be honoured to arrange for that. The Celebrant will offer your family a very personalized but yet structured service based around your loved one with the information you provide to them and can also act as an M.C.
You could also have a family member or friend officiate the service.
Families need to provide recorded music, because of copyright issues. As well, there can be so many versions of the same song, and this way they have the right version sung by the correct artist of their choice.
Should the family desire to have musicians present, we are happy to arrange for an organist, pianist, soloist, violinist, piper, harpist, etc.
No it is not a legal requirement to place an obituary, however it is strongly recommended. An obituary provides an opportunity for friends and acquaintances to become informed of the death and allows them to make plans to attend the funeral service or offer condolences to the family member(s) that they know.
We do not expect our families to compose the obituary notices for their loved ones.
When the Funeral Director meets with the family we will ask for some biographical information such as, the names and relationship of the surviving family members, and names of those they are predeceased by. We ask for the families to supply this information to us in point form and we will compose the notice for you. Once we have done this, we have the family proof read it and have us make any changes you desire.
We will not send the obituary to the newspaper until you are 100% satisfied with it. Let us know which communities the obituary is to appear and we will notify and email them the notice on your behalf.
Family members can be pallbearers. As well we can also arrange for professional pallbearers if the family so wishes.
Both women and men can be pallbearers. It is indeed an honour to be asked to be a pallbearer. Whether women or men, appropriate footwear should be worn once out at the cemetery, as there will be physical lifting involved while walking on uneven ground.
Yes you can have the reception prior to going to the cemetery. We refer to that as a delayed graveside.
You have done the right thing already by calling us for help and direction. At the time your loved one passes away, call us so we may transfer them into our care as soon as possible. We have staff members that work 24 hours, so when you call you will be speaking directly to a member of our staff. At that time we would also ask if you are ready to set up an appointment to complete the arrangements. We are here to help you with every question, concern, and detail. For further assistance, we can send you an information email with links to our website that has informative videos and information (www.mhfh.com).
We do require the Executor/Executrix, or closest next of kin meet with a Funeral Director. There are many decisions to be made; as well as selection of merchandise and documents that are required to be signed, before we can precede with any funeral or cremation arrangements.
I am planning to be away on holidays and my elderly parent is in a nursing home. What do I do if they pass away while I am gone?
There are a few options that are available to help assist you should the passing occur while you are away.
You can advise the Care Centre that you would like McInnis & Holloway to transfer your parent into our care. Preparation such as embalming can take place which would allow for any delays while you are away. Another family member can make preliminary arrangements until you return or some arrangements can be made via email or fax until you return.
Another option would be to meet with a Director and start making prearrangements to help with some of the decision in advance.
When your loved one passes away, the first decision is to select a funeral home. At McInnis & Holloway we are available to answer your calls 24 hours a day. We can take care of all the details immediately and transfer your loved one in a respectful, timely manner. This is providing that your loved one had been either under a Doctor’s care or Palliative Homecare.
The family will set up a time to meet with a licenced Funeral Director at any of our 8 locations which is most convenient for you. At this initial meeting the Funeral Director will offer you many choices and help you with your decisions.
If your loved one was under Calgary Home Care and the supervision of a doctor, then you can phone McInnis & Holloway directly, and our staff will come directly to the home to transfer your loved one into our care.
If it was an unexpected death with no knowledge of why the death has occurred or an accident, then the police and Medicals Examiner’s office will have to be contacted to determine what caused the death.
This is a starting point for you and your family to come in and meet with a Funeral Director to discuss all options, and the type of service that you are wanting for your loved one. At that time the Funeral Director will advise on what will take place once the passing occurs and provide what information you will be required to have or can submit prior to the passing.
The Funeral Director will document as much detail and information that the family already knows and will provide you with the decisions that are still needed to be made.
By coming in to meet with a Funeral Director before the passing occurs and pre-arranging your loved one’s funeral service, this will afford the family more time to allow themselves to grieve and not be pressured to make a lot of decision in a very short period of time. Some families prefer to spend that precious time with their loved ones, please know coming in prior to the passing is not necessary.
You would contact the funeral home to set up an appointment with the Funeral Director to organize funeral service with burial, cremation or entombment.
Yes, there is no obligation, you can come in and a Funeral Director will give you a tour of the facility and answer all of your questions.
You will need to call the funeral home to inform of the passing. Our staff will take some basic information from you and begin the process of transferring your loved one into our care. We will contact the place where the passing occurred and coordinate all the details.
An appointment time with be set up for your family to come to the funeral home to meet with the Funeral Director and organize all of the details for your Mom’s funeral service.
Your loved one will be transferred to the preparation area of the location you have chosen.
You will be able to see your loved one as soon as we have scheduled a time and place for you to spend some time with them.
You can provide us with your wishes and funeral choices which we are happy to keep on file. If families prefer we also offer an option to prepay and have these services guaranteed. We have prearrangement specialists on staff that can arrange an appointment at your convenience.
It is an advantage to preplan for yourself, as your wishes are made known to your loved ones once you pass away. When a passing occurs the people who are left to plan the funeral have many decisions to make including:
– The type of service that will be held.
– Whether or not the body will be cremated or buried, or placed in a mausoleum.
– Choosing a casket or urn.
– Will the service be in a church, or at the funeral home or at another venue?
Pre planning a funeral can relieve a lot of the stress surrounding the multitude of decisions necessary at the time that you or a loved one passes away. Pre-planning does not take away the grief, but it does prevent the anguish of making many decisions at a very difficult time.
Yes you can plan your funeral at any time that is convenient for you. In your planning your consideration should be for the needs of those who will mourn the death, as what you want may not be what others need.
Whether you pay now or later is often a decision based on a family’s financial situation. Paying now involves having funds available to cover the costs associated with the funeral. Families are given the option to pay either with one payment or over a period of time. One advantage of paying now is that some costs may be guaranteed.
What does advance planning mean?
Advanced planning is the act of preparing in advance for your funeral service.
It can be as simple as writing your wishes on paper and attaching them to your will, or contacting a funeral home to discuss the many details surrounding the funeral service, and paying for these services in advance.
And remember, if you are discussing advanced planning with any funeral home or company, plans should be flexible enough to accommodate a wide range of wishes (i.e. different religious or cultural customs), as well as all financial circumstances.
I’m still young – why should I plan now?
It’s true; people are living longer. But many are also finding themselves part of the “sandwich” generation – those who care about, and take care of, a lot of other people. Your parents. His parents. Children. Maybe even grandchildren or other family members.
Advanced planning is not just about planning your own funeral. Women especially find themselves in a position of handling other people’s responsibilities – often without the benefit of planning ahead.
Encouraging and helping others you love to plan their own funeral needs – before the need arises – is something you can both do together, today.
What are some of the benefits of advanced planning?
Eases Emotional Stress
Making funeral arrangements made after the death of a loved one can be an emotional and stressful experience. Most people are unaware that there are 200-300 tasks involved in arranging a funeral. Many find planning for this eventuality in advance makes the process easier.
From a financial point of view, arranging and paying for the funeral in advance can be an easy and economical part of your financial plans:
– save on funeral costs when a guaranteed price is locked in today
– money is held in a guaranteed trust fund and earns interest
– many payment options: a single cash payment or terms of up to ten years
Advanced planning can also make the funeral service more personal and meaningful for survivors. The wishes of the deceased – including music, type of service, and other preferences – are made known.
What are the steps to advance planning my funeral?
One of the benefits of prearranging a funeral is that you don’t have to make planning decisions in a hurry.
When planning ahead, ask a trusted friend or family member for a recommendation, then call a “short list” of two or three funeral homes in your area that have a good reputation. It’s a good idea to select a funeral home you think will be around in 25-40 years to execute your advanced planning wishes.
Most funeral homes will give you information over the phone or by mail, but it may be helpful to make an appointment to discuss the funeral process in person.
Prepare for a meeting with an advanced planner in advance:
- Ask yourself about preferences regarding the service: traditional or non-religious.
- Would you want to be buried or cremated?
- Do you have a particular cemetery in mind?
- What type of music would best reflect your life and passions?
- Are there readings or poems that would add meaning to your ceremony?
- Are there other gestures you would include? (i.e. having a tree planted in your memory, having a faithful pet in attendance, releasing balloons, integrating important cultural traditions).
- Who are the people who need to be notified in the event of your death?
- Make a list of important papers, such as wills or insurance policies, and their location.
- Remember to mention religious affiliation, cultural customs, or other meaningful items that could be included in the service.
- Think about personal information relating to your life you might want to include in a newspaper notice.
If you find yourself hesitating about making these plans, it’s natural. Discussing and planning for death can be surprisingly difficult.
Whether you write your own instructions, or get the help of a funeral home, it’s important to let someone know where the information is so it can easily be found by survivors at the time of death.
What are the financial options involved with advance planning?
How much does a funeral service cost today, and how much might it cost in the future?
Over the last ten years, funeral costs have more than doubled, so it can be financially responsible to lock these services in at today’s prices.
Many funeral homes offer advanced planning assistance without obligation, and this information can be provided to you in person or sent to your home to review at your own convenience.
Consider these advanced planning options:
- Many funeral homes help you prepare your wishes in writing and keep them on file at the funeral home, without having to pay.
- An estimate can be obtained and you can prepay in advance, locking in the cost of the funeral at today’s price.
- Different payment options exist (check with the funeral home) from term financing to credit cards.
- Some Canadian provinces require advanced planning funds only be accepted by licensed funeral homes, and funds are placed with the Public Trustee or a trust company.
- Prepayment is refundable any time upon written request.
McInnis and Holloway has investigated several options for arranging and financing funeral services, and have found the most flexible option.
- Simple enrollment.
- Convenient payment plans to fit your budget.
- A 30-day free look.
- Growth in death benefit (unlike other plans, our coverage is designed to grow to keep pace with one’s final expense needs).
- Easy, rapid claim service.
- No tax liability on the death benefit.
- Transferable throughout the world.
If you would like to receive more information please contact us.