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Posted on February 17, 2020 by jhcadm

What You Need When Meeting with a Funeral Director for the First Time

After the death of a loved one, your first meeting with a funeral director is an important one, but it can also feel incredibly overwhelming. At James H. Cole Home for Funerals, we completely understand – it’s something we see every day. That’s why we’ve created this list of tips and need-to-know essentials so you can prepare for your first meeting with the funeral home as effectively as possible.

What YOU Need to Know

Let’s start with the basics. When should you meet with a funeral director? And what do you need to know and/or bring to your first meeting?

Ideally, you should schedule a meeting with a funeral director 1-3 days after the death of your loved one. These meetings typically last about 90 minutes and may require you to bring items such as a birth certificate, social security card, will, and pre-arrangement papers. Give yourself enough time to properly prepare these items before your visit.

When the director is helping you complete the death certificate for your loved one, they are going to need to know some key pieces of information, such as the deceased’s –

  • Full name
  • Social security number
  • Birth date and place of birth
  • Date and location of deceased’s passing

As part of the early stages of planning, it may also be helpful for you to have/know the following items and details if applicable to your situation.

Things to know:

  • Names of immediate family members (spouse, children, parents, etc.)
  • Church affiliation(s)

Items to have:

  • A recent photograph
  • Pre-arrangement papers
  • Cemetery location and plot information
  • Insurance information
  • Military discharge papers (if applicable)
  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care
  • Last Will and Testament
  • Living Trust

Just keep in mind that it may take some time for you to collect these items, which is why we suggest thinking about these things prior to meeting with your funeral director. The director is here to help you – to make the process easier and as stress-free as possible. Having these items in advance will enable your director to act immediately with fewer questions for you to answer.

If your funeral director is writing an obituary for your loved one, or if you want to brainstorm ways to make the funeral service more customized, there are additional items that can be helpful to know about the deceased:

  • Hobbies/interest
  • Employment history
  • Military history
  • Clubs/memberships
  • Education

What the FUNERAL DIRECTOR Will Want to Know

The next step in your funeral planning meeting will be to determine details about the service and ceremony you would like to have for your loved one. Every person is different; therefore, every funeral service is different too. This will be your chance to discuss:

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. At James H. Cole Home for Funerals, our funeral directors are your guides through the funeral process; we are here to assist you, and that includes answering your questions with honest, straight-forward answers, including any and all questions regarding cost. Not only is this one of our most respected values, it’s also your legal right.

Tips for a Smoother Process

Our family has been assisting families with funeral preparation in the Detroit metro area for over 100 years, and over that time we’ve accumulated additional recommendations to help you through the funeral planning process.  

  • Determine who the primary decision maker will be in your family. This is the person who will be able to give final approval for all decisions. The time just after the passing of a loved one is difficult for everyone and tensions can be high. Having a selected primary decision maker will help streamline the process and make decision-making easier for all parties.
  • Bring support. You do not have to come to your meeting with a funeral director alone. Ask a friend or family member to come with you for additional support.
  • Start planning early. While it may feel overwhelming, it’s important not to delay the funeral planning process for too long after the death of a loved one. The earlier you are able to schedule an appointment with a funeral director, the more freedom and flexibility you have to fully customize a ceremony and burial best fit for your loved one.

For additional steps and information, check out our Funeral Planning Checklist. Want to ask your questions directly to a director or set up an appointment to meet in-person? Give us a call at (313) 873-0771 or email us at

Posted in Funeral Industry, General Topics