Frequently Asked Questions

Please select the topic that you would like to inquire about:

Burial Arrangements
Cremation Arrangements
Veteran's Cemeteries and Benefits
Other Questions

 

  Burial Arrangements

What is embalming?
Is embalming required by law?
Where is the funeral service normally held?
Which cemeteries does this mortuary serve?
How long after someone passes away is the service held?
If a death occurs in another community, or the services are being held in another city, can Hilgenfeld Mortuary still handle everything?
Does the mortuary provide the clergy to conduct the service?
What information or papers do I need to bring with me to make funeral arrangements?
Do I need to go to the cemetery to make those arrangements, or is that handled through the mortuary?

What is embalming?

Embalming is a process which uses chemical preservatives to temporarily preserve the body. It allows the body to be viewed and for services to be held without concern of deterioration or health risk.

Is embalming required by law?

Embalming is not required by law, except in certain special circumstances. However, funeral homes will generally require embalming if a viewing or open casket service is selected. Embalming is usually not needed if there will be no viewing or services, such as a direct burial or direct cremation.

Where is the funeral service normally held?

Depending on religious affiliation and personal preference, services may be held in our mortuary chapel, the family’s church, or a graveside service can be held at the cemetery. Most church or chapel funerals are followed by a brief committal service at the cemetery.

Which cemeteries does this mortuary serve?

Hilgenfeld Mortuary is an independent funeral home, and is not affiliated with any one particular cemetery. We can arrange for burial at all cemeteries, both locally and in other communities. 

How long after someone passes away is the service held?

Most services are held about three days after a death, as it usually takes that long to obtain and file the required legal documents.

If a death occurs in another community, or the services are being held in another city, can Hilgenfeld Mortuary still handle everything?

Yes, we can transport a loved one to our facilities no matter where the death occurs, and our staff can conduct services and arrange for burial anywhere in Southern California. For more distant needs, we can coordinate with a shipping or receiving funeral home to facilitate your wishes. 

Does the mortuary provide the clergy to conduct the service?

The service is normally conducted by the family’s clergy. However, we are happy to assist in obtaining a local clergy person if the family does not have anyone to call upon.

What information or papers do I need to bring with me to make funeral arrangements?

Most families can readily provide the information needed for the legal documents (like the person’s date of birth, address, occupation, etc.). However, it may be helpful to look up details such as the decedent’s social security number, and the parents’ names and places of birth, as this will also be recorded on the legal documents. In the case of a veteran’s death, a copy of the discharge will be needed.

Do I need to go to the cemetery to make those arrangements, or is that handled through the mortuary?

If the family does not already own cemetery property, you would need to make those arrangements directly with the cemetery. If the property had been purchased in advance, you can often sign the cemetery documents here in our offices saving you a trip to the cemetery.


  Cremation Arrangements

Is embalming needed for a cremation?
Is a casket needed for cremation?
Can we have some type of service with cremation?
How is the identity of the deceased maintained during or after cremation?
What do the cremated remains consist of? Are they ashes?
Is only one person cremated at a time?
What type of urn or container are the cremated remains placed in?
What options do we have for the scattering or disposition of the cremated remains?

Is embalming needed for a cremation?

Embalming is not needed for a direct cremation, which is a cremation without viewing or ceremony. If there will be any visitation, or a funeral service will be held with the body present (and viewing) prior to cremation, then the embalming would be needed.

Is a casket needed for cremation?

California law does not require the purchase of a casket for cremation. However, the law does require that at least an alternative container, which is rigid and leak resistant, be used for cremation. An alternative container is made of plain fiberboard, and is suitable for a direct cremation only. If there will be visitation or funeral services with the body present, a rental casket and a variety of cremation caskets are available to choose from.

Can we have some type of service with cremation?

Yes, visiting hours and a traditional funeral service with the body present may be held prior to cremation. You may also have a memorial service without the body present.

How is the identity of the deceased maintained during or after cremation?

An identification band is placed with the remains at the time they are received by the mortuary personnel. The placement of the band is witnessed and verified by the hospital personnel, coroner, or family member, and this identification stays with the remains at all times. At the time of cremation, a non-combustible metal identification tag is matched with the name of the deceased, and placed inside the cremation container. This tag withstands the heat of the cremation process, and is used to identify the cremated remains following the cremation. The tag is attached to the cremated remains and placed in the urn or container of the family's selection. 

What do the cremated remains consist of? Are they ashes?

Cremated remains are not ashes, as they are often referred to. Cremation reduces the body to bone fragments, which are composed of minerals that are not combustible. After the cremation, the bone fragments are pulverized to a uniform consistency, and placed in the urn or container.

Is only one person cremated at a time?

Yes, the cremation chamber will only accommodate the remains of one person at a time. It is illegal to cremate or commingle the remains of more than one person (unless specifically authorized by the next of kin, such as when cremated remains are intentionally scattered together).

What type of urn or container are the cremated remains placed in?

A wide variety of urns and containers are available, consisting of metal, wood, and ceramic materials, in a variety of cost ranges. Some urns are designed for temporary holding (such as prior to scattering), while other are suitable for permanent placement.

What options do we have for the scattering or disposition of the cremated remains?

Cremated remains may be buried in a cemetery, placed in a niche in an above ground columbarium, scattered at sea, or kept at home by the family. California law also permits cremated remains to be scattered over land that is either owned by the individual conducting the scattering, or if permission is obtained from the person owning the land. Either the family can take possession of the cremated remains for disposition, or the mortuary can deliver or ship the cremated remains to their destination.


  Veterans Cemeteries and Benefits

Who is eligible for burial at a veterans cemetery?
What if a spouse passes away first. Can the spouse still be buried at a veterans cemetery even though the veteran is surviving?
What documentation is needed to verify eligibility for burial at a veterans cemetery?
What if I want to be cremated. Can my urn be buried at a veterans cemetery?
What if one person wants to be buried, but the spouse wants to be cremated. Can both a casket and an urn be placed together?
Can I reserve my plot at a veterans cemetery?
How do I make arrangements for burial at a veterans cemetery once a death has occurred?
Are military honors automatically provided for services at a veterans cemetery?
What do military honors consist of?
Is a military chaplain provided at a veterans cemetery?
Do I get to choose the location of my plot at a veterans cemetery?
Will the government grave marker have both the veteran’s and spouses names on it?
What choices do we have for the inscription or the design of the marker?
How do we get an American flag for the casket?
Does the government pay for the funeral or provide a casket for a veteran’s service?
Is there any charge for the spouse’s burial at a veterans cemetery?
What if I choose to be buried someplace other than in a veterans cemetery. What will the government provide?

Who is eligible for burial at a veterans cemetery?

A veteran discharged under conditions other than dishonorable, retired officers, a spouse (if married to a qualified veteran at the time of death), minor dependent children, or children with lifelong medical dependencies (subject to approval).

What if a spouse passes away first. Can the spouse still be buried at a veterans cemetery even though the veteran is surviving?

It does not matter whether the veteran or the spouse passes away first. The first person will be buried in the lower space of a double depth grave, and when the second person passes away, they will be buried in the upper space of the same grave.

What documentation is needed to verify eligibility for burial at a veterans cemetery?

A copy of the veteran’s discharge papers from the military. If the discharge cannot be located, the cemetery may be able to use the veteran’s social security number to access their military history. If not, records can be requested from the national records archive, but this process can take several days, and sometimes several weeks.

What if I want to be cremated. Can my urn be buried at a veterans cemetery?

Yes, veterans cemeteries have properties to accommodate both casketed and cremated remains.

What if one person wants to be buried, but the spouse wants to be cremated. Can both a casket and an urn be placed together?

Both the casket and an urn can be placed in the same grave at a veterans cemetery.

Can I reserve my plot at a veterans cemetery?

No, veterans cemeteries do not take reservations in advance. Instead, you can make your funeral arrangements in advance with the mortuary, so that all of the necessary paperwork and proof of eligibility is available at the time of need.

How do I make arrangements for burial at a veterans cemetery once a death has occurred?

All arrangements for burial at a veterans cemetery, including application submission and scheduling, are handled by the funeral director. The family does not need to have any direct contact with the cemetery.

Are military honors automatically provided for services at a veterans cemetery?

No, military honors must be requested, and are then subject to availability. Honors may be provided by active duty members from the branch of service that the veteran served in, or by volunteer groups consisting of American Legion, VFW, ROTC and reserve members. Under federal law, the government is required to provide at least one representative to present the folded flag to the family if requested, but is not obligated to provide any other honors (flag detail, firing party, bugler, etc.)

What do military honors consist of?

Military honors traditionally include a flag folding detail, gun salute, and the playing of ‘Taps”. However not all honor guards offer each of these services. Your funeral director will be able to advise you what honors would be available for the services.

Is a military chaplain provided at a veterans cemetery?

No, the cemetery does not provide clergy services. The clergy who presides over the service is normally the family’s own pastor, priest, rabbi, or other spiritual leader. The mortuary can often assist in obtaining a clergy for the service if the family has no one to call upon.

Do I get to choose the location of my plot at a veterans cemetery?

No, the cemetery conducts all burials in one specific section until it is full, and then proceeds to the next section in the park. The family therefore does not have any choice in where the burial takes place. (Exception - When a spouse of someone already buried passes away, they will be buried in the same grave, regardless of location).

What type of service is held at a veterans cemetery?

A graveside service is held at the cemetery in one of the ‘shelters’ located throughout the park. This can be the ‘main’ service, or it can be held following a church or chapel funeral elsewhere.

Does Riverside National Cemetery have a church or chapel on the premises?

No, only graveside services are held at the cemetery. (An exception is a large amphitheater located within the cemetery, and its use is subject to approval).

Will the government grave marker have both the veteran’s and spouses names on it?

Yes, the marker will show both names after the second person is buried.

What choices do we have for the inscription or the design of the marker?

For uniformity, there are no design options for the marker. However, the family may choose one of several available emblems (like a cross, Star of David, etc), and may place one line of endearment at the bottom of the marker, subject to approval and space constraints.

How do we get an American flag for the casket?

The mortuary will obtain a burial flag for the service from the government. A copy of the honorable discharge is needed (or eligibility must be verified through the cemetery) before a flag can be obtained.

Does the government pay for the funeral or provide a casket for a veteran’s service?

No, unless the person died while on active duty, the funeral arrangements, casket, and any associated costs are the family’s responsibility. There may be monetary benefits if the veteran had a service connected disability or died at a VA medical facility, and your local veterans administration office can provide more information for your specific situation.      

Is there any charge for the spouse’s burial at a veterans cemetery?

No, there is no charge for interment of the veteran, spouse, or eligible dependent.

What if I choose to be buried someplace other than in a veterans cemetery. What will the government provide?

The government will provide the grave marker for the veteran, and an American flag. The cemetery costs will be the family’s responsibility. Military honors are still possible, but are subject to availability from the various groups.


  Other Questions

If you have a question on any matter that is not addressed here, please feel free to e-mail us at office@hilgenfeldmortuary.com, or call us at 714-535-4105.


The information provided on this page is generalized and subject to change, and may not apply to your specific situation. No liability is assumed for the use or accuracy of the information contained herein. 


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