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 and make this process one of love, healing, and life celebration. Below is some information to help you get started, but you can contact us at anytime, 24/7 and a caring representative of our staff will be there to assist you.

Within Hours

When a loved one dies at home or in a place that isn’t a healthcare facility, you’ll need to contact emergency personnel, who will notify the medical examiner. Emergency and medical personnel involved in this part of the process will help you with obtaining a medical certificate and any other necessary paperwork. If your loved one was under medical care, it’s a good idea to call their physician as well.

If your loved one dies in a healthcare facility, they will notify the proper authorities.

In all situations above, please call us at (414) 541-7533 to inform us of their passing and release them into our care.

What do I do when a death occurs while out of town or away from home?

It’s important that you contact the local medical authorities first (as well as the police, if appropriate), and then make sure to give us a call as soon as possible. We will work with you to make the necessary arrangements to get you and your loved one back home as quickly and easily as possible. Calling us will also help you to avoid duplication of efforts and fees.

This part of the process is often the most emotional, and we are here to help and support you. If you’re not sure what to do, call us any time.

Within the First Few Days

You’ll want to notify close friends and relatives, both through personal phone calls and social media.

This also is the time to review any of your loved one’s preplanned funeral wishes and meet with a funeral director to begin planning their service. If your loved one did not preplan their funeral, you might want to start thinking about a few of the choices you will need to make, such as:

  • Burial or cremation
  • If burial, the type of casket and the location of their final resting place in a grave or mausoleum
  • If cremation, the type of urn and the location of their final resting place through burial, keeping at home, or scattering
  • Any religious services you will need, such as clergy or spiritual leaders
  • The types of services you want, such as a viewing, service, graveside memorial, etc. 


These questions are just a starting point, and you don't need to know the answers right away. Don’t hesitate to contact us to gain a better understanding of your options. We're here to make this process easier for you.


What to Expect When We Meet

We'll then ask you about your loved one to gain an understanding of the person the services will honor. Use this time to communicate your ideas and preferences, share your loved one's life story, revisit memories, and highlight their accomplishments. Our professionals will use this information to guide you in the creation of a personalized, meaningful celebration of your loved one's life.

What do funeral directors do?

A funeral director is a licensed professional who has graduated with a degree in Mortuary Science and specializes in all aspects of funerals and related services. Their primary role is to  support the family and guide you through the funeral process. They are experienced with funeral ceremonies and traditions. They also arrange for the removal, transportation and preparation of the deceased. They can assist families with any legal or insurance-related paperwork they might need to file. 

Unlike some other positions in the death care industry, who are compensated via sales, Wisconsin law does not allow Funeral Directors to make a commission. So you can rest assured at Schaff, you will make arrangements with a licensed funeral director and will never feel any sales pressure.

When you meet with one of our licensed funeral directors to discuss your arrangements, we'll first provide you with a general price list and give you a basic idea of what our services cost. 

This process may include:

  • Preparing and filing the official death certificate
  • Scheduling the services including the location, date, and time
  • Select:
    • clergy/officiant
    • live musician or recorded music
    • other speakers you wish to include 
    • pallbearers
  • Selecting a casket, vault, urn,
  • Select flowers, memorial cards, or other products you may need such as:
    • Jewelry
    • Finger prints
    • Lock of hair
    • DVD/slideshow
  • Drafting an obituary
  • Arranging necessary transportation
  • Selecting a representative to carry out your wishes if you are unable or have passed away


Bring the Following Information

We'd like to make this process as smooth and stress-free for you as we can, so remember to bring the following information about your loved one with you as well:

  • Recent photograph (used for preparation of your loved one for viewing)
  • Clothing you would like us to use, inlcuding undergarments and socks (preferred longer sleeves and collared garments, footwear optional)
  • Full legal name and home address
  • Social security number
  • Date of birth
  • State/Country of birth
  • Father's name
  • Mother's maiden name
  • Highest education
  • Occupation
  • Insurance policy information if using to pay for funeral expenses
  • If applicable:
    • Veteran's discharge papers (DD-214)
    • Information about the burial location
    • Clergy name and phone number (You will work directly with them for readings and music)
    • Cemetery paperwork
  • Names and relationships of survivors (used for obituary)
  • Affliations such as fraternal organizations, military, clubs, hobbies/interests
  • Any special recognitions or awards


Schaff Funeral Service
Phone: (414) 541-7533
Fax: (414) 541-7570
5920 West Lincoln Ave., West Allis, WI 53219

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Crafted with care by Frazer Consultants and TA

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