Funerals tend to be a taboo subject which the public do not generally discuss. Very often a simple question to an experienced Funeral Director will save a lot of worry and apprehension. If you have never had to organise a funeral before it can be quite a daunting task. It is important that you know there is help available to make the occasion run as smoothly as possible.

We are all here to serve you and will be pleased to answer any questions on unusual procedures, unusual requests etc, at no obligation to yourself and of course, in the strictest confidence. Often a telephone call will avoid a hasty decision that might later be regretted.

The following is not a comprehensive guide to funeral directing but is intended to be a thought provoking guideline to help you make the right decision

  • What happens when someone dies in hospital?

    • You will normally be informed by the hospital.
    • Please contact us to let us know as soon as possible.
    • We will inform you of the best procedure.
    • We will arrange a convenient time to sit down and discuss the funeral arrangements.
  • How am I going to cope with all the things that have to be done?

    • We are only a phone call away to help you.
    • Please feel free to contact us.
    • We will be pleased to offer friendly, professional advice.
  • Are there any special instructions?

    • You may have recently talked to the person that died about special requests.
    • There may be specific requests in their Will which is probably held by a solicitor or bank.
    • Perhaps a pre-paid funeral plan has been purchased in which case you will know some of their wishes.
    • Sometimes you may have to make the decision yourself.
  • Burial or Cremation?

    • A burial is often more expensive than a cremation
    • If burial is chosen: Which Cemetery or Churchyard is preferred?
    • Will it be a new grave? These are usually opened to allow space for two people sometimes three.
    • Is there an existing family grave to be re-opened? We will need details of the last interment so that we can locate the grave.
  • Cremation

    • A cremation is often less expensive than a burial.
    • If cremation is chosen: which crematorium is preferred? There are two in and around Exeter, Exeter & Devon and East Devon.
    • How will I remember the person who has died after cremation? There are many options including Books of Remembrance, rose bushes and commemorative plaques.
    • What will I do with cremated remains (ashes) afterwards? There are two alternatives: They can either be scattered or buried. It is then the question of where?
    • You may decide to purchase a new cremated remains plot at the crematorium, cemetery, or church yard and have a memorial tablet with an inscription so that you have somewhere to visit afterwards.
    • They could be buried at sea.
    • Or you may decide to take them and bury them in your own garden.
  • Scattering of cremated remains

    • If they are scattered, it may be on an existing family grave in a cemetery.
    • In the garden of remembrance at the crematorium.
    • Scattered at sea, by yourself or with the help of a friend who has a boat.
    • Or scattered in a favourite place, perhaps your own garden with a seat or favourite plant sited for remembrance.
  • Ashes

    If any of the above is confusing or not appropriate please do not rush into a wrong decision. We will always be pleased to hold the cremated remains at our premises to allow you the time to think about and settle on the right decision. A choice of containers is available.

  • Where will the funeral take place?


    • The majority of funerals take place in a church, or in a cemetery or crematorium chapel or at the graveside in a cemetery or churchyard.
    • Some religions would hold a service at a synagogue, temple or mosque or even a village hall.
    • Unlike weddings, funerals can be held almost anywhere, even at a private residence.
  • Who will conduct the service?

    At a church service the clergyman will normally conduct the funeral service and stipulate what can or cannot be done within his church. As a general rule and following consultation, the minister will be

    • Quite happy for relatives or friends to participate in the funeral service.
    • In other places anyone may be asked to conduct a funeral service, a religious minister of any denomination, a non-religious minister, a humanist, the funeral director, a friend or relative or a member of a connected club or organisation.
    • We will be pleased to contact the minister on your behalf or advise and work with you to construct the most appropriate form of service.
  • How do we plan the service?

    • It is important that you have the sort of service you feel most comfortable with. When a clergyman is involved he would normally contact the next of kin and arrange to meet in order to plan and discuss the most appropriate form of funeral service.
    • This is the time to mention any special music, readings, poems or tributes you may want during the funeral service. You may like a tribute of personal memories spoken by a close personal friend.
    • Remember that each service is unique and a tribute to the person who has died.
  • What is an address?

    • The address, tribute or eulogy is a short history, a speech about the person who has died. Usually delivered by the minister at a funeral service but sometimes by a relative or friend.
    • It is important to give this some thought before the funeral. It gives a personal touch to the service.
    • How did he or she like to be known? Perhaps they always used their middle name, or a nickname. A short history of their life. Childhood, family connections, clubs or associations, likes and dislikes of golf, gardening or sport in fact anything that says, “That’s him!”.
    • Most importantly their character. Did they tell terrible jokes? Were they happy and bubbly? Often a humorous family story can make all the difference to a funeral service.
  • What music can we have?

    • Almost any music can be used. Organ music, musical instruments, personally taped music or CDs.
    • At a church there is usually an organist. Arrange the music and hymns in conjunction with the minister. Remember that some hymns have more than one tune.
    • At a crematorium we are limited to time but it is possible to play two or three pieces of music, or a double service time can be booked.
    • We will be pleased to help and advise on music to be played during the service.
  • Should we view at the Chapel of Rest?

    This is a personal choice.

    • Many people gain considerable comfort in visiting to pay their final respects, whilst others prefer to keep their personal memories of happier times.
    • You can ask for the coffin to be brought home so you can pay your respects there if you wish, or it may rest at our Chapel of Rest.
    • We normally supply a gown styled robe to dress the person who has died.
    • You may prefer to supply us with some personal clothes.
    • Certainly, spectacles or dentures if normally used help us to present a more natural appearance.
    • You may need to decide whether items of jewellery should be left on or returned to the family.
    • If you wish to visit our Chapel of Rest we ask you to telephone to make a mutually convenient appointment.
  • Who will carry the coffin?

    • We provide bearers in all cases.
    • Members of the family or friends may wish to assist. This is possible but they will probably need some simple instructions beforehand.
  • What transport will we need?

    • The only essential vehicle required for a funeral is a hearse. We provide a hearse with all our funerals. Special hearses pulled by horses are available but at an additional cost.
    • Most of our funerals provide one limousine for the family. Each limousine seats six passengers.
    • Additional limousines are available at an extra cost.
    • Our limousines are equipped with umbrellas for your use in inclement weather.
    • Horse drawn hearses are available.
  • How will the funeral proceed?

    • Most families choose the address at which the family will assemble before the funeral service. There are three options.
    • The funeral procession may leave from the family house. This is the most traditional method.
    • The limousine can collect the family from a chosen address and travel directly to the place of service.
    • You could meet the funeral at the place of service.
  • Are there any differences in procedure for a church service?

    As well as the choices above, there are even more options available for a church service.

    • You may wish that the coffin is received into church before the service starts so that when you arrive it is similar to the way in which you would start a normal Sunday service.
    • After a church service, you may not want to go to the crematorium for the committal. We can liaise with the minister and perhaps arrange for the service and committal to take place in church. This alleviates the necessity of attending the crematorium leaving you at the church to meet the people who have attended the service. Sometimes we can arrange to leave the flowers at the church too.
    • You may want to attend the committal as a small private family unit and have a large thanksgiving service to follow. This can be achieved by arranging a back to front funeral, when a private committal service takes place before the thanksgiving service. This leaves you far more flexibility to arrange a convenient time for the thanksgiving service at the church with the minister.
    • There are many options and we would be pleased to advise in other circumstances.
  • How do we get home after the funeral?

    Our limousines will return the family to the home address or some other local address afterwards.

  • What will the mourners do after the funeral?

    • Family members and friends usually get together after a funeral.
    • This may be at their house, a village or church hall, a hotel or sometimes a club or public house.
    • We will be pleased to recommend venues or caterers to provide your requirements.
  • What will a funeral cost?

    The cost of a funeral is made up of three parts.

    • Disbursements.
    • The Funeral.
    • Any additional charges.

    To determine the total cost of the funeral the three separate parts have to be added together.

  • Disbursements

    • These are fees that the funeral director pays on your behalf.
    • Fees at the crematorium or cemetery, the minister’s fee or fees for a church service, the organist’s fee and for a cremation the doctor’s fees for completing the statutory cremation forms.
  • Conditions of payment

    Disbursements should be paid to M. Sillifant & Sons in advance of the funeral.

    Disbursements are fees external to M. Sillifant & Sons and include cremation or burial costs, ministers or non-religious celebrants, flowers, wakes, doctors, etc. An invoice for the remaining bill is issued a week or so after the funeral. This should be settled within one month. A payment plan can be organised if necessary.

    The total cost of a low-cost ‘Basic Funeral’ has to be paid in advance.
    If the funeral is to be paid for by the estate of the deceased, present the death certificate along with an invoice from the funeral director before the funeral to ensure that sufficient funds are available. Disbursements still have to be paid in advance by the estate, next of kin or executor.

    • Should you qualify for financial support from the Social Fund (DWP), you will still have to pay certain fees in advance. Please be aware that the Social Fund will not cover the entire cost of a funeral. The Social Fund will pay a maximum of £1000 towards the Funeral Directors fee. They will also cover cremation or the cost of a modest private grave. All other costs must be met by you personally
  • The following information should be treated as a general guidance

    Under certain circumstances the person responsible for making the funeral
    arrangements may be eligible for a grant from the Department of Social Security (Form SF200). This will generally apply should there be insufficient funds available to cover the cost of a private funeral, and either you or your partner are in receipt of one of the major D.S.S benefits.

    There is also a Bereavement  Payment (Form BB1) if you or your spouse/civil partner were under the state pension age, and your spouse/civil partner had paid enough National Insurance contributions.

    Other payments are Widowed Parents Allowance, Bereavement Allowance and
    Budgeting Loan (Form SF500).

  • How do we pay for the funeral?

    • Cash
    • Cheque
    • Debit Card
    • Bank transfer
    • From the deceased’s estate
    • In certain conditions, assistance may be obtained from the Department of Social Security towards the payment of funeral expenses.
  • Can I get help from the D.S.S towards the cost of a funeral?

    • You will need to get Form SF 200 from the D.S.S. which needs to be completed and returned within three months of the funeral.
    • You may qualify for assistance if the person responsible for arranging the funeral is receiving:- + Income Support: + Income based jobseekers allowance + Housing Benefit + Council Tax Benefit + Family Credit or Disability Working Allowance.
  • What do we know about flowers?

    If you decide that floral tributes are appropriate, in memory of the person who has died, you may invite people to send flowers in a variety of ways. Essentially there are four options:-

    • All flowers – anyone who would like to send flowers can send them to our office. Family flowers only with donations to a charity of your choice.
    • Either flowers or donations – giving people a choice.
    • Some people request no flowers at all, and people may donate to a charity if they wish.
    • We will gladly order flowers for the immediate family or recommend a florist.
  • What do we do about donations?

    If you decide that donations are appropriate the family nominate a charity and invite people to donate to that charity in memory of the person who has died.

    • We are pleased to collect the donations on behalf of the family.
    • We normally acknowledge receipt of donations to the donor.
    • The total amount collected is passed to the nominated charity.
    • The family is provided with a list of donors approximately six weeks after the funeral.
  • How do we place a newspaper notice?

    • You can contact the paper directly or we can assist you.
    • Our funeral directors will be pleased to assist you to draft a newspaper notice and can provide suitable words, quotes or verses if required.
    • You may like to announce the funeral and the choice of flowers or donations
    • You need to give some thought to the paper in which you would like the notice to appear.
    • We can place the notice for you in any local or national newspaper.
    • We will submit thanks notices after the funeral if requested.
  • Dealing With the estate?

    Depending on the size of the estate and if a will has been left, the Probate Office may need to be contacted, or legal advice obtained. The Department of Social Security issue a very useful booklet entitled “What to do after a Death” (D49) which can be obtained free of charge from any of their offices.

    We will be pleased to give advice or arrange the memorial if requested.

  • Special topics

    We practice temporary preservation (embalming) under modern hygienic conditions. We believe all funeral directors should be able to offer this service. Besides the benefits to health both for you and all our staff it should also allow visits to the chapel of rest until the day of the funeral.

    Funeral Dress

    Dress varies according to the style of an individual funeral, today more variation is allowed without being considered disrespectful. Most people show comfortable respect in their dress at funerals. Our own staff wear morning suits.

    Heart Pacemakers

    If the deceased is fitted with a heart pacemaker, this should be removed. For a cremation this is compulsory. If a pacemaker, or any similar implant is fitted, it is important that you advise us.

Get in touch

If you require guidance with making Funeral arrangements, contact the understanding professionals at M. Sillifant & Sons in Exeter.
To speak to a member of our team in Exeter, please contact us via the number listed at the top of our website. Alternatively if you wish to send us an email with any enquiries you can fill out the form located on the Contact Us page of this website.

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