Frequently Asked Questions

We compiled a list of questions that families frequently ask us. The questions are grouped into two main sections.
  • General
  • Preneed

If you have a more specific question, please email info@midtownfunerals.com or call us at 773.654.3744.

We hope you find this helpful.

General Questions

Funerals fill an important role for those mourning the loss of a loved one. By providing surviving family and friends with an atmosphere of care and support in which to share thoughts and feelings about death, funerals are the first step in the healing process. It is the traditional way to recognize the finality of death. Funerals are recognized rituals for the living to show their respect for the dead and to help survivors begin the grieving process.

You can have a full funeral service even for those choosing cremation. Planning a personalized ceremony or service will help begin the healing process. Overcoming the pain is never easy, but a meaningful funeral or tribute will help.

  • Pick up the deceased and transport the body to the funeral home (anytime day or night)
  • Notify proper authorities, family and/or relatives.
  • Arrange and prepare death certificates.
  • Provide certified copies of death certificates for insurance and benefit processing.
  • Work with the insurance agent, Social Security or Veterans Administration to ensure that necessary paperwork is filed for receipt of benefits.
  • Prepare and submit obituary to the newspapers of your choice.
  • Bathe and embalm the deceased body, if necessary.
  • Prepare the body for viewing including dressing and cosmetizing.
  • Assist the family with funeral arrangements and purchase of casket, urn, burial vault and cemetery plot.
  • Schedule the opening and closing of the grave with cemetery personnel, if a burial is to be performed.
  • Coordinate with clergy if a funeral or memorial service is to be held.
  • Arrange a police escort and transportation to the funeral and/or cemetery for the family.
  • Order funeral sprays and other flower arrangements as the family wishes.
  • Provide Aftercare, or grief assistance, to the bereaved.
  • The funeral home will help coordinate arrangements with the cemetery.
    • Bring the following information to complete the State vital statistic requirements:
      • Birth Date
      • Birthplace
      • Father’s Name
      • Mother’s Name
      • Social Security Number
      • Veteran’s Discharge or Claim Number
      • Education
      • Marital Status
    • Contact your clergy. Decide on time and place of funeral or memorial service. This can be done at the funeral home.
    • The funeral home will assist you in determining the number of copies of the death certificates you will be needing and can order them for you.
    • Make a list of immediate family, close friends and employer or business colleagues. Notify each by phone.
    • Decide on appropriate memorial to which gifts may be made (church, hospice, library, charity or school).
    • Gather obituary information you want to include such as age, place of birth, cause of death, occupation, college degrees, memberships held, military service, outstanding work, list of survivors in immediate family. Include time and place of services. The funeral home will normally write article and submit to newspapers (newspaper will accept picture and they will be returned intact).
    • Arrange for members of family or close friends to take turns answering door or phone, keeping careful record of calls. If Social Security checks are automatic deposit, notify the bank of the death.

If you request immediate assistance, yes. If the family wishes to spend a short time with the deceased to say good-bye, that’s perfectly acceptable. Your funeral director will come when your time is right.

Burial in a casket is the most common method of disposing of remains in the United States, although entombment also occurs. Cremation is increasingly selected because it can be less expensive and allows for the memorial service to be held at a more convenient time in the future when relatives and friends can come together.

A funeral service followed by cremation need not be any different from a funeral service followed by a burial. Usually, cremated remains are placed in urn before being committed to a final resting place. The urn may be buried, placed in an indoor or outdoor mausoleum or columbarium, or interred in a special urn garden that many cemeteries provide for cremated remains. The remains may also be scattered, according to state law.

Viewing is a part of many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death. Viewing is encouraged for children, as long as the process is explained and the activity is voluntary.

Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body. Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them.

The Federal Trade Commission says, “Except in certain special cases, embalming is not required by law. Embalming may be necessary, however, if you select certain funeral arrangements, such as a funeral with viewing. If you do not want embalming, you usually have the right to choose an arrangement that does not require you to pay for it, such as direct cremation or immediate burial.”

It really depends entirely on how you wish to commemorate a life. One of the advantages of cremation is that it provides you with increased flexibility when you make your funeral and cemetery arrangements. You might, for example, choose to have a funeral service before the cremation; a memorial service at the time of cremation or after the cremation with the urn present; or a committal service at the final disposition of cremated remains. Funeral or memorial services can be held in a place of worship, a funeral home or in a crematory chapel.

With cremation, your options are numerous. The cremains can be interred in a cemetery plot, i.e., earth burial, retained by a family member, usually in an urn, scattered on private property, or at a place that was significant to the deceased. (It would always be advisable to check for local regulations regarding scattering in a public place-your funeral director can help you with this.)

Today, there are many different types of memorial options from which to choose. Memorialization is a time-honored tradition that has been practiced for centuries. A memorial serves as a tribute to a life lived and provides a focal point for remembrance, as well as a record for future generations. The type of memorial you choose is a personal decision.

You might choose ground burial of the urn. If so, you may usually choose either a bronze memorial or monument. Cremation niches in columbariums are also available at many cemeteries. They offer the beauty of a mausoleum setting with the benefits of above ground placement of remains. Many cemeteries also offer scattering gardens. This area of a cemetery offers the peacefulness of a serene garden where family and friends can come and reflect.

If you wish to have your ashes scattered somewhere, it is important to discuss your wishes to be scattered ahead of time with the person or persons who will actually have to do the cremation ashes scattering ceremony, as they might want to let your funeral professional assist in the scattering ceremony. Funeral directors can also be very helpful in creating a meaningful and personal ash scattering ceremony that they will customize to fit your families specific desires. The services can be as formal or informal as you like. Scattering services can also be public or private. Again, it is advisable to check for local regulations regarding scattering in a public place-your funeral director can help you with this.

Yes — Depending upon the cemetery’s policy, you may be able to save a grave space by having the cremains buried on top of the casketed remains of your spouse, or utilize the space provided next to him/her. Many cemeteries allow for multiple cremated remains to be interred in a single grave space.

Uncertainty about income tax issues can add to the stress experienced from the death of a spouse. You should meet with your family attorney and/or tax advisor as soon as possible to review your particular tax and estate circumstances. Bring a detailed list of your questions to the meeting. If you do not have an attorney or tax advisor, call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 for answers to specific tax questions.

There are a number of options available, including:


  • Determine if the deceased person qualifies for any entitlements. Check with the Social Security Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and with your State Fund. Many people are entitled to get financial assistance with their funeral costs from these agencies if they qualify.
  • Review all insurance policies the deceased person has, including life insurance. Some life insurance policies have coverage clauses for funeral related costs.
  • Find local charities providing financial help for funeral expenses. Search for non profit organizations and for churches in your area.
  • Talk to your funeral director about cremation options – these can be much less expensive depending on your choices.

Yes there are VA benefits that are available and we will help your family fill out the necessary documents to make a claim after the funeral. The VA will reimburse for funeral as well as cemetery expenses, however it is not likely to cover all charges. Please visit www.benefits.va.gov/compensation/claims-special-burial.asp for more information.

On April 12, 2021, FEMA began offering financial reimbursement for families who experienced a death attributed to COVID-19.

To begin the application process, please contact the COVID-19 Funeral Assistance Line Number at: 844-684-6333 | TTY: 800-462-7585.

You can also start the application by visiting: COVID-19 Funeral Assistance

Please feel free to contact us directly if you have any questions or if you require copies of necessary documents.

Preneed Questions

Funds are held in a whole-life insurance policy with National Guardian Life Insurance Company. This is in accordance with Illinois law. With over 100 years of experience, we trust NGL to serve the families who come to us.

Life Insurance is good to have, but the policy can lapse or be terminated for any number of reasons. These policies can take weeks or months to pay out, leaving your family to pay for expenses out of pocket.
Life insurance also does not guarantee any charges, whereas funeral arrangements are forever no matter what the financial circumstances are in the future. The prices are frozen so that you are protected from potentially decades of costs increases. It makes sense to view pre-arranging as an investment.

Certain items are beyond our control and need to be estimated when establishing pre-arrangements. These charges are reconciled at the time of service, presenting either a balance or a refund owed to your family, and can include newspaper notices, clergy honoraria, or airfare.

This can often happen if the growth of the policy outpaces the increase in charges. Funeral homes are entitled by law to keep a portion of the growth, however we have never done this and any unused funds are returned to the family at the time of service.

Prepaid funeral arrangements are exempt when applying for public-aid. You can prepay for funeral services in order to spend down assets to reach the allowable amount. Any excess funds in the policy will be returned to the State of Illinois at the time of death, so it is important to make sure this is done properly.

The policy is just like any other life insurance policy and therefore is not tax-deductible.

Yes, the insurance company offers 3, 5, 10 or 20 year payment plans depending on your age and answer to 2 health questions. While most families choose to pay with a single premium, payment plans are available and might be a smart financial decision.

We recommend letting any family members know that you have made pre-arrangements. It is a good idea to provide at least one other person with a copy of your contract or a summary of what was arranged. Families will also notify lawyers, doctors, hospice, or financial advisors accordingly.

Your survivors will be able to review the arrangements at the time of need and make any changes at that time. Except for certain special circumstances, the next of kin has the legal authority to amend the arrangements however they so choose.

Since pre-arrangements are funded by life insurance, the policy cannot be transferred to anyone else.

Even though you pre-arranged with us, National Guardian Life Insurance Company is holding the funds and said funds would not be affected by such a circumstance. The policy would remain in effect and be transferrable to another funeral home, however the services selected would not be guaranteed and would likely be reconciled against that funeral home’s charges.

The policy remains in effect. Another funeral home of the family’s choosing can deliver the services, however the new funeral home is not required to honor the initial contract written with Midtown Funeral Home and Cremation Options. If you die out of the state, additional charges may be required to bring you under our care.

Yes, we can always make changes to the arrangements. We are often contacted by families who have pre-arranged in order to update their wishes or make changes.  The insurance policy can be cancelled and refunded in its entirety within 30 days. You can also cancel the policy at any time thereafter for the cash value.

Yes – this happens frequently. It is a simple process of contacting the insurance company to change the funeral home assigned on the policy. Plese let us know if you need help transferring your policy to us.