Frequently Asked Questions

Funerals are broken down into 6 expenses:

  • Funeral Home Services
  • Funeral Home Products (Caskets, Urns)
  • Outer Burial Containers (Vaults, Liners)… Some cemeteries require these items
  • Cemetery Property (the actual plot or piece of land)
  • Cemetery Opening and Closing (digging the grave/setting up of a tent, chairs, lowering device, etc.)
  • Cash outlays (Flowers, Death Certificates, Police Escorts, Newspaper Obituaries, Honorariums to Ministers or Musicians, etc.)

Yes, Cemetery Property, the Outer Burial Container and Opening and Closing of the Grave are not used on many occasions with Cremation. If the family does have a Cemetery plot that they would like the ashes placed in, the outer burial container and Opening and Closing of the grave are typically a reduced rate at the Cemetery.  Please look at the Cremation Options Question.

There are three Services to consider when selecting Cremation:

  1. The Cremation itself
  2. A Funeral Service
  3. A Viewing
  • Most Funeral homes ask whether your family would like to use 1, 2, or 3 of these Services. Some people just want the Simple or Direct Cremation.  In this case, all you are requesting the funeral home to do is
    Remove the body from the place of death
    File the permits
    House the body until the cremation is scheduled with the crematory
    Use the container that the crematory requires (cremation tray)
    Deliver the body to the crematory when scheduled
    Pay the crematory it’s fee (this is typically separate from the Funeral Home fee)
    Pick up the ashes and have them available for the family to pick up from the funeral home
    Families should find out if their funeral home has an additional charge for refrigeration if that is needed due to an extended time between death and cremation. If a family would like viewing, they will be asked about embalming (for preservation) and possibly the renting of a casket or the purchase of a cremation casket. If a family would like a Funeral Service, the Funeral Home will offer selections of services for helping to co-ordinate that rite. Families can choose:
  • Cremation Only
  • Viewing and Cremation
  • Cremation and a
  • Memorial Service (no body present)
  • Viewing, Service with the Body Present or Not, Cremation

Families can still have the ashes buried, or interred at their cemetery and will need to find out the costs and requirements with their particular cemetery.

Embalming is not required by law unless certain factors occur like transporting the body across State lines or travel by airplane or rail. A funeral home should legally ask whether or not your family wants this option. If your family would like to have a public viewing, would like the decedent’s appearance enhanced, or there is a protracted length of time between death and disposition (burial or cremation), the family may want to/ or need to consider this service. Some religious factors can require the use of dry-ice as a preservation quality for transportation or refrigeration for preservation.

Funeral homes answer their phones 24/7. Normally, a family simply tells the hospital, hospice, nursing facility, etc. which funeral home their family desires to use and that institution or healthcare overseer calls the funeral home after the legal pronouncement of death has taken place. Traditionally a family will be called first and if they can’t be reached for a duration of time, the facility will go ahead and call the funeral home on record. Anytime a family member is under the care of a facility and the end of physical life will most likely happen there, it is good to tell that facility which funeral home your family will be using. In the case of an unexpected death at home, a justice of the peace or judge may be called and they will contact the family’s funeral home of choice after all legal protocols have taken place.

Tell your family that if this should occur for yourself or if a family member dies outside of their city of residence, we encourage everyone to call their local funeral director. Your local funeral director will make the arrangements to get the body back to city where the funeral will take place. Most of the time, the local funeral director can do this in a manner that is less expensive on the family because they know the questions to ask and they receive professional discounts.

The institution where the death takes place normally asks a family if they want to have time with the deceased before the funeral home is called. Some families want this time period. Sometimes a family is not in the same town or the family will wait and just view at the funeral home when the body has been cleaned and dressed. A funeral home is typically on the way to the facility of death as soon as they receive the call from the supervising agent. Funeral Homes have an on call representative on 24/7.

Funeral homes will be able to tell you if there are State, County, or City assistance programs. Social Security only pays a benefit of 255.00 to a surviving spouse or child under 18 in the home. Talk to your funeral home or call the different funeral homes in your area to find the least expensive options available. It is always better to be proactive in these instances.

No, most states allow a family to handle their own burial rites, but regulations do vary. The legal details, logistics and organization processes are typically difficult for the layman to work through.

The Funeral industry is regulated by the Federal Trade Commission and state licensing boards. We recommend you discuss issues with the funeral home first and if that can’t resolve the issue, you may want to contact the Funeral Service Consumer Assistance Program. FSCAP provides information, mediates disputes, provides arbitration, and maintains a consumer guarantee fund for reimbursement of services rendered. They can be reached at 708-827-6337 or 800-662-7666.

Funeral homes will ask you how many certified death certificates you would like during the arrangement conference. Funeral Homes take the vital statistic information that a family gives them and they send that information to the signing agent (a physician or justice of the peace, etc.); after the document is signed with a cause of death and other applicable information, the funeral director files the death certificate with the State. A next of kin or legal representative can obtain the certified death certificate through the local registrar ( city hall/ county clerk, etc.), but it is typically easier to just let the funeral home obtain copies for you since they know the day it is filed with the State and when certified copies are issued. If you are wanting a copy of a death certificate on an individual that died some time ago, you will need to go to the local registrar and prove legal authority to have the document issued to you. Most states have a limited period of time that a funeral home can obtain a death certificate for a family.

The benefits of pre-arranging are:
Getting your wishes on paper (smart whether you are funding the plan or not) using Leave Prepared.
Funding a pre-arranged funeral freezes the price of the funeral at today’s expense. The funeral home risks making enough interest on the money to keep up with inflation.
We always tell people that pre-arranging is smart when insurance becomes too costly due to age or health. When a person is young, they most likely could take a $75.00 monthly payment and buy term insurance that would leave their family with a lot more money than just having the funeral expenses taken care of.

Most funeral homes will want to look at the pre-arranged funeral plan that an individual has, but the answer is that any funeral home CAN honor a previously purchased funeral plan through another funeral home. Simply call the funeral home your family would now like to serve you and ask them about it.

If a person has been sick and a physician will sign the death certificate and state a cause of death, typically an autopsy will not be required. If the decedent has not been under the care of a physician and a judge or justice of the peace is ruling on the cause of death, an autopsy may be ordered by the authority to help determine the cause of death. Families can request a private autopsy at their own expense. A private autopsy by a pathologist can be quite expensive.

Some States have an area on the back of their driver’s license to express your wishes. One should also tell family members. If your family member is a participant in this program, your family should notify the funeral home that a death has occurred and that Life Gift or one of the other donor programs is involved. Sometimes the logistics of a funeral home being notified of a death can be slowed down when the donor program is used. It is important that the funeral home is notified of this decision at the time of death.

Visit with your funeral director about his/her opinion regarding the donor process and embalming after the particular donation procedure. As discussed in the embalming questions, a delay in the embalming procedure typically creates more challenge for the embalmer, as well as, the choice of donation procedure. Some funeral directors have strong opinions with regard to this matter.

If you have additional questions about funerals, planning, or else, please feel free to contact us!