Where to Begin

Where to Begin

Planning a funeral can be overwhelming, but you are not alone in this. We’re here to support you throughout this journey. Below is some information to help you get started, but if, at any time, you have questions or need to speak with us please do not hesitate to call. Our office is open everyday from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm. We are staffed for removals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Within Hours

When a loved one dies at home or in a place that isn’t a healthcare facility, you’ll need to contact either emergency personnel or the hospice organization you are working with first. They will contact us as soon as they are ready for our assistance.

Decide how and when you want to notify relatives and close friends. In these days of social media, word spreads quickly. Sometimes, family members find out before you have a chance to let them know.

We will call you to schedule a time that is convenient for you to come to the funeral home and make arrangements. We will ask if you are considering burial or cremation and if we have your permission to embalm the body. Embalming is not required by law, but it is required if you would like to have a public visitation with the body present.

Within the First Few Days

Think about your loved one’s funeral wishes and how they would want to be remembered.

  • If burial - did your loved one own cemetery property? If not, you will need to purchase a burial plot. You will also want to ask about the opening/closing fee and if a vault or outer burial container is required by the cemetery.
  • If cremation – would they want a traditional service with a casket followed by the cremation or would they have preferred to have the cremation take place first and have a memorial service at a later date?
  • Do you intend to bury the cremains in a cemetery or inurn them in a columbarium or keep the urn with you or your family?
  • Talk with your minister or person who is to conduct the service to find out when he or she is available.  Please do not confirm or publicize arrangements until you have met with a funeral director.  There are generally several people to coordinate with before the dates and times can be confirmed.

What to Bring With You to the Funeral Home

You will need to bring the following information with you to the arrangement conference:

  1. Information for the Death Certificate:
    • Full Name of the deceased (including maiden name, if applicable)
    • Social Security number
      We will notify the Social Security Administration of the death of your loved one.  You will need to contact them to secure the one-time death benefit of $255 if you qualify as the  surviving spouse or if there are minor children or dependent adult children. 
    • Full name of both of the deceased’s parents (including mother’s maiden name)
    • Date of birth
    • Place of birth
    • Occupation
    • Highest level of education completed

  2. Any military discharge papers (DD-214), if applicable, in order for us to request a flag and/or military honors.

  3. Clothing
    Full clothing including undergarments. Shoes are not necessary but will certainly be used if you would like. 

    Glasses and jewelry may be used. Please advise us of any jewelry that is to be returned to you before the casket is closed.

    We also ask that you provide a recent photograph to help with cosmetics and hair.

  4. Burial or Insurance Policies
    Please bring any policies that you may have to the arrangement conference. We are happy to work with the insurance company.



What to Expect When We Meet

When you meet with a member of our staff to discuss arrangements, this process will include:

  • Obtaining the vital information on your loved one to prepare and file the death certificate
  • Scheduling the services and events (including the location, date, and time)
  • Selecting a casket, urn, or other products you may need
  • Drafting an obituary
  • Ordering a death certificate 




The obituary can offer as much information as you like. Most papers charge by the word. Please keep in mind that The Huntsville Times only publishes on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. We must have the information by 2:00 pm the day before publication in order to submit it for publication. You can email the obituary to us at info@laughlinservice.com. Sample obituaries can be found on our website.

Laughlin Service’s website offers personalized obituaries at no charge. You can also upload pictures and video to the site for friends and family to view.


You will need to decide if you want to accept flowers from family and friends or if you would prefer to name a charity as the beneficiary of gifts in memory of your loved one. You may also choose to use a church pall or a flag draped over the casket if your loved one was a veteran. Our director is happy to assist you in ordering flowers. 


Traditionally, six pallbearers are needed and should be physically able to load the casket into the hearse at the location of the service and carry it from the hearse to the grave at the cemetery. Honorary pallbearers may be named, if you want to include friends and family who are special to the family but may not be able to physically assist. Immediate family members may participate as pallbearers if they so desire.

Social Security

We will notify the Social Security Administration of the death of your loved one. You will need to contact them to secure the one-time death benefit of $255 if you qualify as the surviving spouse or if there are minor children or dependent adult children.

Death Certificates 

We will assist you in obtaining the death certificate. That process can sometimes take up to two weeks but is often much faster depending on when it is signed by the doctor or coroner. The number needed varies depending on each family’s situation. The State charges $15 for the first one and $6 for each additional certified copy. You will not need one for Social Security but you will need one for banks, securities, insurance policies, any property that you may need to sell, such as a home or vehicle, and to probate a will. Your director will be happy to discuss this with you in more detail.


You will want to think about music for the funeral service and if  you wish to have  live or recorded music.  We can help with securing vocalists, pianist, bag pipers, etc.

Personalized Visitation

We would encourage you to bring pictures and family mementoes to display.  If the visitation and/or service is going to take place at the funeral home, we have magnetic picture boards available as well as a variety of large and tabletop easels for your convenience.  We also have a television and dvd player in each visitation room and in our chapel.  You can bring your own video or we offer memorial tribute videos, for purchase.  We recommend that the family arrive 30 minutes to one hour in advance to allow time to set up.

We accept cash, personal checks, debit cards, all bank cards and insurance policies.


Laughlin Service Funeral Home & Crematory
Phone: (256) 534-2471
Fax: (256) 534-2473
Email: info@laughlinservice.com
2320 Bob Wallace Ave. SW, Huntsville, AL 35805

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