Frequently Asked Questions
Most common questions about burial, cremation, funeral, and pre-planning for yourself or someone you love, but were afraid to ask..
Is financing available for funeral or cremation arrangements?
Q: What is embalming?
Embalming is the temporary disinfect ion and preservation of human remains. A disinfectant and preserving fluid is injected into the circulatory system of the deceased, replacing the blood and ensuring distribution throughout the body.
Q: Is it required to have viewing and visitation with the funeral services?
While it is not be required, viewing the body and having it present during services can provide an important part of the grieving and acceptance processes. This is true not only for family members, but also for friends. Please discuss viewing options and concerns with your funeral director.
Q: Can there be viewing and/or visitation without embalming?
Embalming of the body is not required for private family visitations, if there are no open wounds, infectious diseases, organ donations, or autopsies.
Q: When, if ever is embalming required?
At Dahl Funeral Chapel embalming is mandatory for public visitations, or if the services will be held in a location other than the funeral home.
Q: Should children attend viewing and visitation of the body?
If a child expresses interest in attending, then yes, they should attend the viewing and visitation. However, a child should not be forced into viewing the body. We've heard many times from adults that, as children, they were not allowed to see the body of a loved one, and that they never really got over it. Conversely, we have heard from adults that were forced to view a body as children, that it horrified them. In many cases these adults have an aversion to viewing, to this day. The most important thing to remember is that everyone deals with grief on an individual level. Every effort should be made to make people as comfortable as possible with their surroundings during a time of grieving.
Q: I have seen cremation and funerals advertised by a discounter. How is discounter able to offer services at such discounted prices?
In the instance of low price advertised cremations, our number one piece of advice is buyer beware. In life you get what you pay for, and here are some additional charges or things to look out for in this situation. To get the advertised price, many times you have to purchase a membership into a memorial program or cremation society before you pass away. Frequently the charges advertised use the basic or cheapest rates for some of the services. This means there can be extra charges if you do not die between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. There can also be a diminished level of the service that you receive. For example, things that can be done outside the funeral home are usually considered the family's responsibility, even if you are unfamiliar with the processes. These include filing the death certificates, writing and submitting the obituary, and veteran's and insurance benefits claim filing. This do-it-yourself-for-the-least-money approach may work for some people.
Q: What is the purpose of a funeral?
The funeral is an opportunity for the gathering of family and to remember and celebrate the life of the deceased, as well as to lend support and comfort to the family. This can be done through religious ceremonies, private ceremonies or public gatherings. We believe the funeral service should be personalized and be a reflection of your loved one.
Q: Does a dead body have to be embalmed?
No. However, embalming would be required when the deceased is to be transported across state lines; or when burial, cremation or refrigeration cannot take place within 48 hours of the death. In addition, for the safety of the public, we require embalming for public viewing.
Q: What is the purpose of embalming?
Embalming sanitizes and temporarily preserves the deceased, extending the time between death and final disposition. This allows the family time to gather and arrange the type of service most comforting to them.
Q: Can a funeral director come to my home to make funeral arrangements?
Absolutely. Within the local area, Steve or Rick will bring all necessary items to make arrangements in the comfort of your home.
Q: What is cremation?
Cremation is the controlled reduction of the human body to ash by means of flame and intense heat. These ashes are then mechanically reduced to a powdered form and placed in an urn.
Q: Who can legally authorize cremation?
An authorizing agent is a person that has the authority to grant the funeral home permission to cremate the deceased. The following are listed in the order of the preference of signers. Authorizing agents for cremation are: (a) a spouse; (b) a majority of adult children; (c) a parent; (d) a close relative of the deceased; or (e) in the absence of the person or persons listed above; a personal representative, public administrator, the deceased through a pre-need authorization, or others as designated by board rule may authorize.
Q: Does cremation take place immediately after death?
Under Montana state law a body cannot be cremated earlier than 24 hours after the time of death. Further, the state requires the body be placed in a rigid leak resistant container prior to cremation. A selection of appropriate containers will be presented.
Q: Can I have a complete funeral with public visitation and full services before cremation?
This would require temporary disinfect ion and preservation of the body (embalming). Private family viewing/visitation may also take place. If this is chosen, there are certain guidelines that will apply. Embalming is preferred if the viewing takes place over 48 hours after the deceased passed away. Viewing will take place after the family has had a chance to arrange the services. Viewing is a very important aspect of funeral planning. It allows the family and friends an opportunity to see the deceased one last time, and say final goodbyes. It also provides some closure, as well as addressing the reality that the death has occurred. While there are circumstances where viewing is not recommended, it is our policy to make every effort to provide this service if it is requested by the family of the deceased. After viewing and services cremation may take place.
Q: The question of the disposition of the urn is frequently asked.
In the state of Montana cremation is considered final disposition of the body. What this means is that for the most part, cremated remains are unregulated. This provides many options to the family for disposition. The urn can be buried in a cemetery. This option allows for the family of the deceased to have a place to go to remember their loved one. The ashes may be scattered. This option allows the families to, in some cases, meet the wishes of the deceased, and can also make for a symbolic and memorable service. The ashes may also be split up and placed in smaller keepsake urns if more than one member of the family wishes to retain some of the ashes.
Q: Can I have a viewing and a funeral if I want cremation?
Yes. This option allows time for the family and friends to gather and spend time with the loved one who has died. For many, it provides the perfect opportunity to face the reality of the death and to say goodbye. Cremation can then follow after the service.
Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?
No. Cremation is an alternative to earth burial or entombment for the body's final disposition, and often follows a traditional funeral service.
Q: Are funeral services expensive?
No. When compared to other major purchases in life, funeral services are among the most reasonable in cost. For example, the average funeral cost in $8000, cremation services start at $3500 the average for a new car is $20,000, even a modest new home costs around $200,000.
Q: Why do funerals cost what they do?
There is a great range in prices for services and merchandise depending on the type of funeral you purchase. The perception that funerals are costly usually can be attributed to a lack of familiarity with the normal price range.
It is unfortunate that the ending of a life is not valued and celebrated as much as the beginning. Many of the details in planning a funeral are similar to that of a wedding. Yet, due to the excitement and joy of wedding, the cost is rarely criticized, even though it often costs three times as much as a funeral.
The funeral business is unique and very labor-intensive. It takes special people and training to deal with the emotional and often extreme grief that comes with the death of a loved one. If handled correctly, the funeral business is a mission. We are available 24 hours a day and have extensive facilities with viewing facilities, chapels, hospitality rooms, and vehicles.
The cost of a funeral includes not only merchandise, such as caskets; but also the services of a funeral directors and staff in making arrangements, directing funeral services, filing appropriate forms, dealing with doctors, ministers, florists, newspaper staff and others, and seeing to all the necessary details of the funeral service.
We believe that how the process is handled can make a difference on how a family will deal with their grief and may ultimately have a life time effect. For that very reason, we will not skimp on the service we provide. As we learned from the cradle... "There is only one way to do things, and that is the right way."
Q: Can the family of the deceased control the total price of a funeral?
Yes. The family has full control over the cost of the funeral based on the choices they make. We offer many options with a wide selection of merchandise at a varied price range. We pride ourselves on making every service memorable, without regard for the type of service or the amount of money spent.
Q: Can I pre-arrange my funeral?
Yes. Pre-arrangements have become very popular over the last several years. It provides an opportunity to handle details early and lessens the burden on family members. Pre-arrangements can be as simple as gathering biographical information for the death certificate and having it on file at the funeral home or as extensive as arranging the entire funeral service; choosing the casket, music, minister, etc., and placing funds aside to pay for it. The information you wish to place into your pre-arrangement is totally at your discretion, as is the amount of funds, if any, you wish to set aside.
Assisting with pre-arrangements is a courtesy to our families. There are no funeral home charges involved.
Q: Where does the money go?
Funds can be used to purchase a funeral insurance policy or they can be placed in a trust fund. Both options have benefits depending on your individual situation. In Montana, 100% of all the funds must be placed in a qualified trust fund or be used to purchase funeral insurance. There are no administrative costs.
Q: Can I transfer my pre-arrangements from one funeral home to another?
Yes. The funds set aside in your prearrangement are yours. Should you move or wish to choose a different funeral home, those funds can be transferred at your discretion. We can easily assist you with this process.
WHAT TO DO IF A DEATH OCCURS
Q: What should I do if the death occurs in the middle of the night or on the weekend?
We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and should be notified as soon as the death occurs, regardless of the time of day or night. We will then guide you in the next steps that must be taken.
Q: Will personnel from the funeral home pick up the deceased right away?
Should the death occur inside a facility, we will coordinate this with the staff. If the death occurs at home, we will come to the home as soon as the family wishes. If a coroner contact is required, we must wait until coroner authorization is received.
Q: If a loved one dies out of state, what steps should be taken?
Again, call the funeral home and share with the funeral director what your wishes are for the deceased. The funeral director will contact the local out of state funeral home and handle all funeral and transportation arrangements per your wishes.
MORE HELPFUL INFO
Here it is not strictly business. What is most important is helping you through this the loss. We want to help you as much as you will let us.
(Reminder - All services, merchandise and cash advanced must be paid in full, before any services can be provided, we do accept Visa, and Master Card. If a credit card is used to pay for cash advances an additional %5 will be added to cash advance total.)
PRE-PLANNING YOUR FUNERAL
OR CREMATION ARRANGEMENTS
Often people want to plan their funeral arrangements ahead of time. It gives them the opportunity to express their wishes and make known their final requests. Prearranging offers you the ability to make rational decisions now, rather than have emotional ones made at a later time by your family. And finally, when you make prearrangements, you give your family a tremendous gift by removing the burden of funeral arrangements from them at the most difficult of times.
Request More Prearrangement information
(You may start this process by filling out the pre planning form that you can send to us in a confidential and secure way. We will safe guard your plans in our files at no cost to you.)
Questions regarding Pre-Planning/Pre-Funding Funeral Services
Q: What is the benefit of pre-planning and/or pre-funding my final wishes or funeral service expenses?
The benefits of pre-planning and/or pre-funding funeral arrangements are abundant. Pre-arrangement gives someone an opportunity to make their wishes known to their family. This way there is less chance of surprise, confusion, or even conflict when the time comes; things are selected and ready. Pre-funding can save your family potentially unexpected costs at the time of your death.
Q: If I pre-plan and/or pre-fund my services, am I required to have services performed by the contracting funeral home? Can I move my pre-arrangement?
The services that are pre-planned and/or pre-funded can be transferred to other funeral homes.
Q: What is the difference between a guaranteed and a non-guaranteed pre-arrangement funeral contract?
A guaranteed pre-arrangement contract means that when services were pre-arranged, the purchaser (you and your family) put %100 of the money, to cover the funeral home's charges for service and merchandise, into a trust account. The service and merchandise charges would then be guaranteed, at the prices effective the day the contract was signed. Therefore, a guaranteed pre-arrangement contract is not subject to price increases. A non-guaranteed contract is subject to price increases. A trust can be started with any amount of money, and additional funds can be added later.
Q: If I become ill, unemployed, or I find myself in dire financial circumstances, can my pre-funded funeral trust be garnished or seized to pay my debt?
No. The money can only be released with your consent and signature along with the signature of the funeral director that set up the trust. After someone dies, the money is only released to the funeral home, and the funeral home must provide a copy of the death certificate for the payment to be issued. The funeral director is also required to provide a signed withdrawal certificate.
Q: What happens if I have a pre-funded funeral trust and I pass away in another city or on vacation?
In the event that a person passes away out of town or away from the place where the pre-arrangement is maintained, the family should contact Dahl Funeral Chapel. We make arrangements with a funeral home in the area where the person passed away. This firm will manage the preparation of the body and transportation back to the deceased's home. In regards to the funeral trust; the funeral home will either perform services as originally planned and treat the third party funeral home's charges as a separate charge and bill the family for them, or pay for the transport and preparation of the body out of the trust. Then the family would be billed for the remaining difference in the service charges. The funeral home will choose the option which is most cost effective for the remaining family.
Q: Can I pre-fund my funeral services with a life insurance policy?
No. The funeral home can do an insurance assignment on the policy at the time of death. Additionally, the funeral home can be named the beneficiary on most policies, which helps in Medicaid situations. By doing one of these things, the insurance company will send the funds for the services directly to the funeral home, and the remainder of the policy money to the primary beneficiary. If the funeral home is the primary beneficiary, any funds not used for the service would be remitted to the family. This means that you can pay for the services with an insurance policy. You may even set up your final wishes with an unfunded pre-arrangement, but the prices cannot be guaranteed.
Q: If I have a guaranteed trust and my family decides to change the services, and there is money left over in the trust, what happens to extra funds?
If a person is not a ward of the state or on Medicaid, the additional funds are to go to the family or the estate. If someone is on Medicaid, the additional money goes to the state government.
Q: If I choose to pre-fund my funeral expenses, where does the money go? Where is it kept?
The trust fund is maintained by the Montana Funeral Directors' Association. The trustee is Wells Fargo Bank in Billings, MT. Most of the funeral homes in Montana keep their trust accounts in this trust. The entire trust being in the millions of dollars yields a much higher interest rate for the consumer.
Q: Who, besides the funeral home, should I confer with about pre-arranging my funeral services? Who do I make my wishes known to?
It is recommended that you first discuss your wishes for your funeral services and the disposition of your body, with your family.
Make sure your plans meet the needs of those who will survive you. After all you are doing this for them.
Additionally, if there are any disagreements about how services should go, or your family has constructive input for the services, your pre-arrangement provides the opportunity to come to a compromise. In this way everyone feels included in the pre-arrangement, which will increase everyone's comfort level when the time comes.
Q: If I am thinking of pre-arranging services for a friend or family member, what is an appropriate way to approach them with pre-arrangement?
The best way to approach someone about their funeral services is, above all, to be caring and honest. Let the person know that you want to help, and although this is a tough thing to talk about, it is better to talk about it now than later. It is easier to make better decisions when your mind is clear and focused, instead of making decisions when you are under emotional stress. The loss of someone we love is certainly stressful. You have the opportunity to plan ahead and help those who survive you. Discussing funeral plans with those who survive will make sure that the plans also meet their needs on an emotional and spiritual level.
Q: If the trust is guaranteed, and there is a price increase at the funeral home, how can the funeral operate at a loss on these accounts?
This is where the interest rate attached to the funeral trust accounts comes into the picture. It is our hope that the rate of growth on the account keeps up with price increases.
Q: What is green burial?
Green burial has come to be understood as end-of-life rituals, disposition options, and products that do not involve the use of toxic chemicals or non-biodegradable materials. In other words, it's burial that does not involve embalming with hazardous chemicals, metal caskets, and concrete burial vaults. Green burial uses less energy and creates less waste than conventional burial. It's essentially the way most of humanity cared for its dead for thousands of years up until the late 19th century. In some instances, green burial can also be used to facilitate ecological restoration and landscape-level conservation.
Q: How does green burial differ from conservation burial?
Conservation burial is a term coined by the Green Burial Council at the 2005 Land Trust Alliance National Rally. The concept calls for a cemetery's adherence to a number of protocols to ensure that burials never degrade an ecosystem and, where possible, facilitate ecological restoration. It requires that surveys (biological, geological, hydrological) be done to determine where burial should and should not take place on a piece of land, and at what density. Most significantly, conservation burial requires that an established, independent conservation organization, most often a land trust, serve as steward of this land and be willing to hold a conservation easement. This legally enforceable instrument, which runs with the land, guarantees that the standards for conservation burial, set forth by the Green Burial Council, will be upheld in perpetuity.
Q: What does it mean if a cemetery is Green Burial Council certified?
GBC certification allows consumers to be able to distinguish between the four levels of green burial ground and understand that each has a different set of standards. It requires cemetery operators commit to certain degree of transparency, accountability and third party oversight. And it prevents future owners from going back on whatever ecological or aesthetic promises have been made in the past -- from limitations on burial density that to protect a local ecosystem to prohibitions against the use of monuments that would negatively impact a viewshed.
Q: What's wrong with embalming?
The Council doesn't think any end-of-life ritual, form of disposition, or mode of post-mortem prepration is "wrong." We only want to ensure that services and products are available to people who wish to minimize the environmental impact of their last act. Embalming fluid is usually comprised of the carcinogen chemical formaldehyde, which has been proven to pose health risks in funeral homes. A study by the National Cancer Institute released in late 2009 revealed that funeral directors have a much higher incidence of myeloid leukemia. Fortunately, there are now several formaldehyde-free embalming fluids, including one made entirely of nontoxic and biodegradable essential oils, which recently earned the GBC seal of approval. The sanitation and preservation of a corpse can almost always take place without the use of chemicals, as is done in just about every nation in the world -- with the exception of the US, Canada and a half-dozen others.
Q: Since burial vaults are made from concrete, shouldn't they be considered green?
While the concrete and metal in vaults may be considered "natural" to some, the manufacturing and transporting of vaults uses a tremendous amount of energy and causes enormous carbon emission. In fact, each vault requires the production of 1.6 tons of reinforced concrete. Vaults are not required in GBC-approved hybrid burial grounds, and they are prohibited in Council-certified conservation and in natural and environmentally low-impact burial grounds.
Q: How do I know that a particular product is suitable for a green burial?
The GBC believes a casket, urn, or shroud is suitable for a green burial if it's made from materials/substances that are nontoxic and readily biodegradable. We also require that these products not be made from materials that are harvested in a manner that unnecessarily destroys habitat, as is the case with certain types of sea grass. A list of caskets, urns, and shrouds that meet these requirements, whose producers have provided us with clean, fully disclosed material safety data sheets, can be found at our "find a provider" section.
Q: Doesn't cremation create a lot of pollution?
Cremation uses far fewer resources than almost any other disposition option but it certainly has an environmental impact. Cremation burns fossil fuels, and some older cremation facilities can use significantly more energy compared to newer ones. Mercury is also emitted when a person with dental amalgam fillings is cremated, but effective filtration devices that can fully mitigate mercury pollution are expected to be on the market in 2011. The GBC has recently begun working with the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) to promulgate standards for more eco-friendly cremation and will be encouraging ways of "greening up" the cremation process by making available to consumers options for recycling medical parts, choosing a more fuel-efficient cremation container, and participating in a disposition program that has some positive environmental purpose, such as creating marine habitat or generating money to facilitate conservation.
Q: What is a home funeral and how does it differ from a home burial?
Home funerals, which allow for families to care for a decedent and all aspects of a funeral at home, were quite common in the US up until the mid-20th century. A family can facilitate a home funeral in almost every state, or do it with the assistance of a licensed funeral director. GBC-approved funeral homes must now accommodate families wanting home funerals. A home burial is an alternative to disposition in a cemetery. It's allowed by almost all counties, but most require a minimum number of acres and often the filing of a plat map with the planning department.