Ask the Funeral Expert

Where Do I Obtain Illinois Death Records?

April 1st, 2013

Ask The Funeral Expert:

Michele – My daughter, died on November 9, 1978 and her cremation took place at Severino Funeral in Rosemont, Il. My in-laws, Russell and Elizabeth Berggren, made the arrangements and have since passed away. I am trying to find any information I can on my daughter’s death records, and am wondering if you might have any records regarding her death. Any information you can give me would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you.

Funeral Expert Reply:

In the state of Illinois (as long as you can prove a relationship to the deceased and need for information), you can petition the Illinois Vital Record Department for a copy of the her death record.

You will need to prove the following:
The decedent’s full name.
* The date of death.
* The city and county where the death occurred, if known.
* The parent(s) name(s).
* Any additional identifying information you may have — such as the funeral home in charge of burial.
* Your relationship to the decedent.
* The reason for requesting the record.
* A copy/photocopy of a non-expired, government issued photo ID.
* I also suggest giving them the date of birth and location of birth.

You can ask for the information in-person, via, phone, fax, or online.  The best place to start your inquiry is in the county clerk’s office in which the death occurred. For example if she died in the same county as the funeral home, you would contact the Cook County Clerk.

If you want to visit them in person you would go to Cook County Bureau of Statistics, 50 W. Washington – Concourse Level -25 Chicago Il. By mail Cook County Bureau of Statisitics PO Box 641070 Chicago, IL 60664 or call them at 312-603-7788.

I hope this information is helpful. Please let me know if I can assist with anything else.

Can I Bury My Grandmother’s Ashes With Her Parents in Fajardo, Puerto Rico?

March 30th, 2013

Ask The Funeral Expert:

My grandmother was born and raised in fajardo and her parents have been buried together in a plot together I would like to bury her with them. She will be cremated but I don’t know which cemetery and the rules to do her final wishes. Maria

FSN Funeral Expert Reply:


The first step would be to find the cemetery. I recommend contacting the mayor’s office in Fajardo. Ask them if they can give you the name and contact information for the cemeteries located in Fajardo.

Here is the contact information for the Fajardo Mayor’s office:

Mayor: Hon. Aníbal Meléndez-Rivera
City Hall, 6 Luis Muñóz Rivera St.,
Corner of Dr. López St.,
Fajardo, Puerto Rico 00738-0865
Phone number: (787) 863-4013
Contact: Mrs. Olga I. Galindo

Once you have located the cemetery, the sexton should be able to tell you if they allow ashes (cremains) to be buried on top of existing graves.

If the cemetery allows for double burial, the funeral home providing the cremation services should be able to help you arrange transportation of the ashes to Puerto Rico. If you are taking the ashes to Puerto Rico yourself, you will need to contact the airlines you will use and find out their requirements. Normally, the airlines will treat the cremains the same way they would a carry-on bag. You will also need to contact the TSA to determine what type of cremation container is acceptable to them. Most funerals homes will be able to guide you through the complete process.

Taking Ashes to Canada

February 27th, 2013

Ask The Funeral Planning Expert:
My mother wants to be cremated here in CO but have her ashes interned with her husband in Canada – how do we arrange that? Kim

Funeral Planning Expert Reply:


 The Colorado funeral home, in charge of the cremation, should be able to help you arrange the transportation. They most likely will charge for the service.
If you plan on taking the cremains to Canada, you will need to follow the Canadian laws concerning the importation of body parts into Canada. These laws are governed by the Canada Border Services Agency.
In their 2009 MEMORANDUM D19-9-3, it states:

Importation of Cremated Human Remains Into Canada
9. Cremated human remains, because they do not pose a
quarantine risk, do not require a death certificate. However,
it is recommended that when transporting the cremated
remains that the importer should carry a copy of the death
and cremation certificate and ensure that the remains are in
a container that can easily be scanned (e.g., cardboard,
wood or plastic).

Depending on how you plan to transport the cremains, you will need to follow the transportation laws of both countires. The Cremation Association of North America has an article detailing the transportation of cremains. You can find the information at  One of their suggestions for transportation across international borders is to contact the Embassy for the country where you are taking the cremains to. The Embassy will be able to give you all the rules and regulations.
There is a Canadian embassy in Denver Co.. Here is their contact information:

Telephone: (303) 626-0640
Fax: (303) 572-1158


Mailing Address:
Canadian Consulate General
1625 Broadway, Suite 2600
Denver, CO 80202

Hours of Operation:
The Consulate General of Canada in Denver is open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday through Friday.

Thank you for using FSN Funeral Homes. I hope this information is helpful.

What Is The Basic Cost For A Cremation?

December 17th, 2012

Ask The Funeral Expert:  how much is the cost for basic cremation?

my mother died today. Gabriela

The Funeral Expert Reply:


I am truly sorry for your loss. I know what it is like to lose your mother. Although the sorrow will never fully go away, this too shall pass.

The basic cost will depend on where you live and what services you need. It can run anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000.

For example — my mother’s cremation was $1,800.00. As per my mother’s request, we had no visitation, funeral service or decorative casket. So it really depends on the funeral home and added services you choose.
If you do not have a relationship with a particular funeral home, you can contact the funeral homes in your area and explain your needs. They should be able to give you a soft estimate of what cremation services cost from their establishment.
The least expensive option would be direct cremation with a basic cremation casket and no visitation or memorial service. Visitation, funeral or memorial services, a special casket, cremation urn, embalming, as well as a few other services will increase the price.
Keep in mind that with cremation (depending on where you live), you maybe able to deal directly with the crematorium. In some cases, this will also decrease the cost of the cremation.
Hope this information was helpful. Please let me know if I can help with anything else. May peace be with you.



Who Can Obtain An Obituary?

December 17th, 2012

Ask The Funeral Expert:

Can I obtain a copy of my sisters obituary?

I am her brother, closest living relative.  Fred

The Funeral Expert Reply:

Most obituaries are public notices of a person’s death. So almost anyone can get a copy of someone’s obit if they subscribe or buy the newspaper in which the obituary is published.  The obituary can be published both online and in print.
Often it is the funeral home who submits the obituary to the local newspaper. Funeral homes often will also publish an obituary on their website. However this isn’t the only way an obituary can be submitted to a newspaper. Many newspapers charge a fee to publish the obituary. So family members can submit obituaries as well.
To get a copy of your sister’s obituary you can do one of three things:
  1.  Contact the funeral home that provided the funeral services. They should be able to give you a copy of the obituary submitted to the local newspaper or published on their website.
  2. Contact the local newspaper where your sister’s funeral was held. They should be able to give you a copy of the published obit.
  3. Search for your sister’s name + obit on the internet. If the service was held in the last decade, you should be able to find the obit online.
Keep in  mind that obit do not serve the same legal function as a death notice or death certificate. If you need proof of your sister’s passing, you can contact the state in which your sister died and petition for a copy of her death certificate. You will need certain information to get a death certificate such as full name, year of birth, year of death, social security number and other personal identification information. The requirements are usually listed on the state’s death certificate request form.
Hope this information was helpful. Please let me know if I can help with anything else.


How To Find An Obituary

December 14th, 2012

Ask The Funeral Expert:  My mothers obit

My mother was killed in 1976 her name was Leola Murdock -Brown and I would like to get an obit. Because I never got one. Wilda

Funeral Expert Reply: 


There are several ways in which you can find an obituary for someone.  However, it depends on how much information you have about the deceased and how many years since their passing.  Since your mother’s was in 1976, it maybe harder to track the obit down.

A simple Google or Bing search using their complete name, year of death and the word obit (Leola Murdock -Brown 1976 obit) will often times give you the information you need to find an obituary.  However, I was unable to find your mother’s obituary with the information you gave me. The only reference to a Leola Murdock Brown was connected with a 1998 obit for a John Murdock. In that obit a Leola Murdock Brown was listed as a survivor.  Normally this method works for deaths that have occurred in the last 10 years. Obituaries over ten years can be more tricky to find.

If you know the name of the funeral home in charge of the service, you can contact them.  Most funeral homes send an obituary to a the local newspaper where the funeral home is located or to the home town of the deceased. They should be able to give you the name and contact information of the newspaper.  With that information you can call the newspaper’s archive department and get a copy. The newspaper will more than likely charge you a nominal fee.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find your mother’s obituary information with the information you gave me. The only reference to a Leola Murdock Brown was connected with a 1998 obit for a John Murdock. In that obit a Leola Murdock Brown was listed as a survivor.

You might try several of the genealogy sites. These sites often have a database of obituaries. You might also try the newspaper in her home town or the town in which she lived at the time of her death.

Sorry that I couldn’t have been more of a help.