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Frequently Asked Questions

Coming to terms with the death of a loved one or trying to plan ahead for your own or a loved ones funeral is not easy. Below you will find a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ’s). If you have any related questions that you feel still remain unanswered please do not hesitate to get in touch.

How do I choose a funeral director?

It is important to choose a funeral director with a good reputation, both in the community and with other businesses. As a long established part of the business community in Fort William, John McLellan & Co is built on a long tradition of professional and caring service.

In the UK there are several governing bodies which regulate funerals and funeral directors.  John McLellan & Co is a proud member of SAIF (The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors), which is an organisation that regulates funeral directors throughout the country. As a member of SAIF, John McLellans is governed by a strict code of practice which affects our general conduct and business practices.  In accordance with the SAIF code of practice, we observe client confidentiality, provide written estimates, maintain clear communication concerning all aspects of the funeral arrangements, and observe all legal requirements concerning the handling of funerals.

At John McLellan & Co, we welcome your queries concerning all aspects of planning a funeral.  We are available 24hrs a day at 01397 702128 and our Dudley Road office is open Monday through Friday.  Feel free to drop in with any questions, or make an appointment to discuss a pre-paid funeral plan.

When can I ring John McLellan & Co?

You can ring John McLellan & Co at any time. We are available 24hrs a day on 01397 702128.  This includes weekends and all holidays. “We are here when you need us most”.

What do I need to do to Register the death?

A Death must be registered within 8 days, in the country of death through an approved registrar. You will need to take the birth, marriage and death certificate with you to the registrar. Following the appointment with the registrar you will be given the appropriate documentation for all legal considerations concerning the estate. The Form 14 needs to be brought in to our Dudley Road office as confirmation that the death has been registered prior to any confirmation of funeral plans.

In Fort William, the Registrar shares an office with the Council Service Point on the High Street. Appointments must be made with the registrar to ensure a private room is available.


What does a funeral cost?

The cost of a funeral varies with relation to the circumstances.  Various things will affect the cost including location of the funeral, choice of coffin, whether a lair has been pre-purchased, mileage, family cars, etc.  Each funeral is tailored specifically to your requests.

A written estimate is provided for each funeral and there are several options available to minimise costs if necessary.  At John McLellan & Co we are aware of the financial stresses of the current economic climate and will work with you to relieve as much of the stress as possible.

Who pays what?

Disbursements such as council fees are paid directly by the funeral director.  There is usually a fee for the use of a church, an organist, the services of a humanist celebrant, a piper, etc.  These are usually included with the disbursements and paid on your behalf by the funeral director on the day of the funeral, unless prior arrangements have been made.

Additional costs such as a funeral tea, newspaper notices, floral tributes, orders of service, etc. are usually arranged by and paid by the family.  If requested, these can be invoiced to the funeral director who will pay them directly, combining these costs with the other disbursements and issuing one invoice to the family when all additional invoices have been received.

What are disbursements?

Disbursements are fees which are outside the funeral director’s control.  Some disbursements include the purchase of a lair (grave), interment fees (services of the gravediggers), cremation fees, fees for cremation certificates, use of a church, etc.  These fees are paid directly by the funeral director on your behalf in order to reduce the number of invoices you receive.

Are funerals more expensive on Saturdays?

Yes.  The council fees for opening a grave and the cremation fees at various crematoriums are both higher for funerals on Saturdays. John McLellan’s do not charge extra for weekend Funeral Services.

What are my options for paying for the funeral?

One of the first things to consider is whether provision for a funeral has been made in a will or through a pre-paid funeral plan.  Your loved one’s solicitor can advise you concerning the availability of funds from the estate.  Assistance may be available through the Social Fund for those who are eligible, and John McLellan & Co will provide the appropriate invoice to accompany your application.

If funds are not available through the estate or the Social Fund, it is the responsibility of the family to pay for the funeral in its entirety.  We recognise that it may not be possible to pay for the funeral in a single payment.  If this is the case, we will work with you to arrange an alternate payment plan that is appropriate for your circumstances.

What is available for a non-religious funeral?

There is an increasing demand for non-religious funerals.  The most popular option for those with no religious affiliation is a humanist funeral, officiated by a humanist celebrant.  It is also possible for the family or family friends to conduct a service as there is no legal requirement for a minister or other official to be present.  A non-religious funeral can be held in our Chapel of Worship, the crematorium of your choice, a family home, the graveside, and some hotels (by prior arrangement).

What is a pre-paid funeral plan?

A pre-paid funeral plan is a preparation for the future.  A pre-paid funeral plan is a secure and cost-effective method of ensuring that your funeral is arranged and paid for, providing peace of mind for you and your family. If you wish to discuss a pre-paid funeral plan, contact our office at 01397 702128 to arrange an appointment.

Can I arrange a loved one’s funeral in Lochaber when I live elsewhere?

Yes.  If you are not a resident of the Lochaber area but you are responsible for arranging the funeral, the majority of arrangements can be carried out over the phone or by email.  Arranging the funeral from a distance may result in delays as it is necessary to have original signatures for such things as cremation application forms.  An additional consideration is registering the death.  It is possible for a friend or neighbour to register the death in Fort William; however, they will require the appropriate documentation.

Can I arrange a car to pick up my family on the day of the funeral?

Yes. John McLellan & Co is able to provide a family car and chauffeur for the day of the funeral, if requested. The standard car seats 4 family members and arrangements can be made for an additional car or larger vehicle if necessary.

What about flowers?

Flowers are normally arranged directly with the florist.  In preparing the funeral notices you will also have the option to allow being “open for flowers” (where friends/people from the community can arrange to send floral tributes) or limited to “family flowers only”.  Flowers are either delivered by the florist to our Dudley Road office on the day of the funeral for placing in the hearse, or delivered directly to the church.

What about donations to charities or retiring collections?

Many people choose to have a retiring collection for a specific charity.  These collections are either collected by the family following the funeral and taken directly to the chosen charity, or delivered by John McLellan & Co.  All collections which are delivered by our staff are verified and receipted by the chosen charity.

When will my loved one be taken to the church?

General practice is to transport your loved one to the church on the morning of the funeral.  It can be requested for your loved one to be taken to the church the night before, but this will incur extra cost.

Where is the crematorium?

The nearest crematorium is in Inverness; however, we have had requests for cremations in Clydebank, Cardross, Perth and Edinburgh.  There can be a significant variation in cost between crematoriums, which may affect your choice.

Can I provide my own choice of music for the crematorium?

Yes.  However, due to copyright restrictions it is important to provide original CDs of specific requests.  All CDs will be returned following the funeral service.

What happens to the ashes after a cremation?

There are several options for the ashes after a cremation, ranging from interment (burial) in a family lair, to scattering in the “Garden of Remembrance”. The staff at John McLellan & Co will go through the options at the time of choosing cremation.

If you are planning to inter (bury) the ashes, they will be collected by our staff and transferred to an ashes casket.  Interring the ashes in a cemetery requires permission from Highland Council and will incur a fee.  Another option is scattering your loved one’s ashes, in a favourite location. A selection of scatter tubes are available for this.

What if my loved one has died suddenly or in tragic circumstances?

The first step is to contact the local constabulary. John McLellan’s will work closely with Police Scotland, the Procurator Fiscal and mortuary staff to ensure the smooth handling of all arrangements. Our policy is to minimise complications and carry out your wishes for your loved one.

What happens if my loved one dies abroad? (International Repatriation)

If you loved one dies abroad, there is a series of steps that need to be taken to fulfill all of the legal requirements.  International repatriation can seem overwhelming, but we will support you in every possible way throughout the process.

  • If you are travelling abroad, it is important that your travel insurance covers repatriation in the case of death.
  • The first step is to contact the British Embassy in the country of death, they will advise you on the customs and requirements pertaining to the registration of the death and care of the deceased.
  • The Embassy will in turn contact John McLellan & Co as your chosen funeral director and we will work together with the local funeral director in the country of death to coordinate the details for transporting your loved one back to the UK.
  • As your chosen funeral director, we will handle the administrative and logistical matters so you can focus on the more important things.
  • Once confirmation of your loved one’s return has been received, the specific arrangements for the funeral can be finalised.
  • If your traveller’s insurance covers the costs of repatriation, there will be no additional cost to yourself or your family over and above the standard funeral costs.
  • Unfortunately, there are no guarantees on the timeline associated with an international repatriation, but we are committed to making the process as simple as possible for you.

What if my loved one dies elsewhere in the UK? (National Repatriation)

If your loved one has died elsewhere in the UK, either on holiday or in other circumstances, John McLellan & Co will handle the arrangements for returning your loved one to Fort William and work through the process with you.

  • All of the relevant transportation details and paperwork will be coordinated by John McLellans and your loved one’s funeral will be carried out according to your wishes, as early as possible.
  • As per usual, the death must be registered; however, unlike an international repatriation, it is possible to register the death once your loved one has returned to Fort William.

What about embalming?

Embalming is the process of preserving the physical remains in a true likeness for viewings.  While not legally required in the UK*, some individuals choose embalming if they are planning family viewings, particularly if there is going to be a delay between the time of death and the funeral due to family members or other individuals travelling long distances.

John McLellan’s works with qualified embalmers to provide embalming services to those who request them.

*It is, however, a legal requirement for international repatriation.

When can I order a memorial stone?

A memorial stone can be ordered at any time; however, it typically requires 6-8 months for the ground to settle before the stone can be erected.

Whatever you choose, John McLellan & Co are committed to ensuring that your wishes are carried out to the highest standard.