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Frequently Asked Questions

It’s never an easy task to plan ahead or arrange a funeral. We all struggle with coming to terms with the death of a loved one, or to put your own funeral plans in place. We are here for you, to help with all of this. Here is a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ’s). If you have any related questions  or need clarification, please don’t  hesitate to get in touch.

How do I choose a funeral director?

Its important to choose an experienced and reputable funeral company, and also that you receive a personal and caring response from the moment you call in.  Our primary goal is to help you feel comforted and confident at what is usually a very sad time.  Each of us at McLellans will make you feel at ease, and let you know that we are with you every step of the way, with understanding and advice as we arrange and carry out the funeral for you. Our company place a very high value on making sure we make you feel genuinely cared for throughout our meetings and communications with you.

We are a very long established and very highly regarded company in Lochaber. We have been taking care of families and loved ones in our community since 1923.

In the UK there are several governing bodies which regulate funerals and funeral directors.  McLellan & Co is a proud member of NAFD (National Association of Funeral Directors), an organisation regulating and advising funeral directors throughout the country. As a member of NAFD, McLellans is governed by a strict code of practice.  In accordance with the NAFD code of practice, we observe client confidentiality, data protection, provide transparent pricing and clear communication concerning all aspects of  funeral arrangements.  Funeral services are carried out in accordance with the wishes of the family, or the client if they had a pre-paid funeral plan.

At McLellans, we are here to help you and we are available 24hrs a day, 7 days a week at 01397 702128.

The Dudley Road office and GATHERING ROOM is open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5 pm. We invite you to call in or make an appointment to discover why McLellans continue to meet the needs of Lochaber’s families at their greatest time of need…we are proud to continue this quality of service, as has been the case since 1923. We are also proud to offer THE LOCHABER FUNERAL PLAN..the best way to give your family peace of mind…please contact us for details.

When can I ring McLellan & Co?

You can ring 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?

Every funeral is different and we take time to ensure the funeral details meet the family’s specific requests. We will explain the costs so that if there’s a budget in mind, we help you achieve that too. Costs vary depending on which options are selected, whether the funeral is a burial, cremation or direct cremation, location of funeral, mileage, family cars/ limousines etc.  The cost of a lair or plot at a cemetery needs to be considered as well as the cost of opening and closing the lair. It may be that the family or individual has already purchased a lair from a council or private cemetery.

A written estimate is provided, so that different options can be considered to minimise costs if required.  At McLellan & Co we are aware that there are sometimes financial  constraints, and we can work with you to minimise that stress.

How and When are Funeral Costs Paid?

Disbursements are costs that are not set by the funeral director. However we will cost these out for the family.

They include items such as council fees for the cost of the lair and the opening and closing of it. If a cremation is arranged, the crematorium sets the fees. These costs are normally paid up front, so that the funeral service can be confirmed.

There are costs associated with churches and also for the organist. It may be that a Humanist or Celebrant is chosen and again they would set their fees for this. Perhaps you might also choose a piper or other music for the funeral and funeral tea. Order of Services need to be planned and ordered up in time for the funeral.  Normally again, the funeral director will go ahead and get confirmation on dates etc and get these booked or organised on your behalf, so that payment for these will normally be made at the time of arranging the funeral.

The cost of the  funeral tea will depend on whether it will be in a hotel, club, community or church hall. Other costs or disbursements might be: funeral notices in the newspaper, and floral tributes. We can help you organise these or leave that for you to do..either way, the family will normally settle these costs with the supplier.

Costs that are set by the funeral director include: collection of the relative or friend and transportation to our Funeral Home where we will care for them and ensure they are prepared for viewing if requested. Provide for viewings at our funeral home as requested. The cost of the selected coffin and selected chords, satins etc. Then there will be transportation to the funeral service by hearse or hearsette with additional cars as required. We will supply all necessary funeral staff for the service and also ensure family and friends are guided and taken care of, and that the coffin is handled with dignity and care on your loved ones final journey. Our staff will ensure a smooth ceremony at the venue and between venues. Payment can either be made at the time of arrangement or within 30 days of the funeral.

We can discuss any requirements relative to the settlement of an estate or any costs covered by DWP.

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 incurred ahead of the funeral service, so that dates  and personnel can be booked.

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.  McLellan’s do not charge extra for our Funeral Services at the weekend.

Are there options for paying for the funeral?

It’s very important to determine if  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 DWP for those who are eligible, and McLellan & Co will provide the appropriate invoice to accompany your application.

If funds are not available through a pre-paid funeral plan, savings, the  estate or DWP, it is the responsibility of the family to pay for the funeral.    We recognise that it may not always be possible to pay for the funeral in a single payment.  If this is the case, we can help make an application for a funeral finance plan. This often requires a down payment at the time of the funeral arrangement.

What is available for a non-religious funeral?

There is sometimes a need for a non-religious funeral.  The most popular option for those with no religious affiliation is a humanist funeral, officiated by a humanist or 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 GATHERING ROOM, the crematorium of your choice, a family home, the graveside, and at some hotels (by prior arrangement).

Should I consider a pre- paid funeral plan?

A pre-paid funeral plan is a preparation for the future, not only in the financial sense, but also making decisions about all the small details you would want.

We believe in transparency, and we introduced the importance of “fairer funeral pricing”  in 2019. We stand by this. If you receive unclear information from any other source, come and discuss this with us. Our Managing Director was CEO of a funeral planning company, a former Chairman of The Funeral Ombudsman Scheme and a founding director of the Funeral Planning Authority.

A LOCHABER 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. Let us help you create your plan and you will secure the funeral service costs at today’s prices. Please contact us at 01397 702128 to arrange an appointment.

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

Yes that’s not a problem at all.  If you are not a resident of the Lochaber Area, we can make arrangements by phone or by email. the arrangement form can then be signed by you, confirming the details and accepting the responsibility for payment ..and posted back to us.  There may be slight delays, as it is necessary to have original signatures for such things as cremation application forms.  For registering the death, it is possible for a friend or neighbour to rdo this in Fort William, however they will require the appropriate documentation, and we can can keep them right on this.

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

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, and/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.  McLellans can provide sealed charity donation boxes for the service, and collections are usually handed over to the family following the funeral who then transfer to their chosen charity. Any 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?

Usually your loved one will be transported from our funeral home to the church about an hour prior to the funeral.  It can be requested for your loved one to be taken to the church the night before, and this would incur an extra cost.

Where is the crematorium?

We frequently use one of the Glasgow area crematoria or Inverness. We also transport loved ones to crematoria  in Aberdeen, Dundee, Perth, and Edinburgh.  There can be a significant variation in cost between crematoria which may affect your choice. We have also transported loved ones to crematoria in England.

Direct option worth considering for many reasons..please see the  FAQ on this.


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

That’s usually not a problem ..we can advise what the crematorium procedure is…and If it’s a church service, you should talk to  minister or priest about this.  The organist can often play modern anthems too.  And you may want to arrange a piper to be outside the church or crematorium at the beginning or end of the service.  Bear in mind copyright restrictions, and we suggest that original CDs are used.  Please remember to ask that your CDs are returned to you after the service..whether it be at a hotel, hall, church or crematorium.

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, scattering in a “Garden of Remembrance”,  or scattering or burying in a favourite place or garden. Our staff at McLellans 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.  If you will be scattering your loved one’s ashes, a selection of scatter tubes are available for this.

Small caskets are also available from us if you choose the DIRECT CREMATION OPTION with a MEMORIAL SERVICE or CELEBRATION OF LIFE event thereafter.




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

The first step is to contact the Local Police and/or GP. They should advise that even if their contracted funeral director is at the scene or has removed your loved one…you HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE a different funeral director to take care of your friend or relative.

Sometimes if the police are called to a house death they may, after discussing with the local GP…determine that the death is “medical” and not a police case. When that happens, there is no Inverness mortuary intervention and the Procurator Fiscal is not involved.  THE FAMILY ARE FREE TO NOMINATE  a THEIR CHOICE  OF FUNERAL DIRECTOR . This applies even if another firm was originally called out by the police.

The same applies even if your loved one is transported to the Inverness Mortuary by the police contracted Funeral Director.
You have EVERY RIGHT TO CHOOSE a different funeral director.  if you call on McLellans at any hour of the day or night or at weekends,  we will arrange to collect your loved one from another funeral director in these circumstances, if those are your wishes.

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

If your 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 have considerable experience in this and have all the necessary contacts with repatriation companies.  We will support you 100% of the 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 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 your family’s priorities.
  • 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.
  • Sometimes this is not a timely process and we need to be realistic and patient about this.  At McLellans we have experience in this and we will work night and day to keep tabs throughout the process and ensure we minimise the stress to you and your family.

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.