Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ways to Pre Pay a Funeral 2011

There are several methods available to pre-pay for a funeral:
  • A regulated trust can be established by a licensed funeral director.
  • A life-insurance policy can be purchased, equal to the value of the funeral.
  • Individuals can establish a savings or certificate of deposit account earmarked for funeral expenses. The account can be designated as “payable on death” (POD) to the funeral home.
Each method has its advantages. To help determine which option is best for you, make sure to ask your funeral director the following questions:
  • Who receives the interest on the account?
  • Who must pay taxes on the interest?
  • Is the prepayment ever refundable, in part or in full?
  • Can the plan be used at a funeral home of your choice?
  • What happens if the funeral home goes out of business or is sold?
  • In the event that you move, is the prefunded plan transferable?

Source: NFDA

Planning a Funeral

At some time in our lives, most of us will make or assist in making funeral arrangements. This can mean making many decisions at a very difficult and emotional time. Funeral directors are there to offer help and guidance during one of life’s most difficult times, but there are things you can do to help yourself:
  1. Be an informed consumer. Don’t be reluctant to ask questions.
  2. Today’s there are a variety of options to meet your financial needs and wishes. Be sure to discuss all available options before making a decision.
  3. When selecting a funeral director, choose one who is licensed and has a good reputation in the community. NFDA’s member directory is a good place to start.
  4. Be prepared! Avoid the burden of making decisions while under emotional stress by organizing details with your funeral director ahead of time. Remember…preplanning doesn’t necessarily mean prepaying.
  5. Plan a personalized ceremony or service to help you begin the healing process. Getting through grief is never easy but having a meaningful funeral or tribute will help.

Source: NFDA

Cremation Frequently Asked Questions

What happens during the cremation process?

The casket or container is placed in the cremation chamber, where the temperature is raised to approximately 1400 degrees to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. After approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours, all organic matter is consumed by heat or evaporation. The remaining bone fragments are known as cremated remains. The cremated remains are then carefully removed from the cremation chamber. Any metal is removed with a magnet and later disposed of in an approved manner. The cremated remains are then processed into fine particles and are placed in a temporary container provided by the crematory or placed in an urn purchased by the family. The entire process takes approximately three hours. Throughout the cremation process, a carefully controlled labeling system ensures correct identification.

How hot does the cremation chamber get?

The optimum temperature range is 1400 degrees to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit for the cremation chamber.

How long does it take to cremate a body?

Cremating at the optimum temperature (1400-1800 degrees), the average weighted remains takes 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Several more hours may be required before the cremated remains are available to the family.

Are cremations done individually?

Yes. State law generally provides that only one body may be cremated at a time. However, in some states, the remains of family members may be cremated together with the consent of the next-of-kin.

Is the body exposed to an open flame during the cremation process?

Yes, the body is exposed to direct heat and flame. Cremation is performed by placing the deceased in a casket or other container and then placing the casket or container into a cremation chamber or retort, where they are subjected to intense heat and flame.

When after death can a cremation take place?

Because cremation is an irreversible process and because the process itself will eliminate any ability to determine exact cause of death, many states require that each cremation be authorized by the coroner or medical examiner. Some states have specific minimum time limits that must elapse before cremation may take place. Your local funeral service provider can advise you of applicable regulations, if any.

Is any other preparation required prior to cremation?

It is essential that pacemakers and other medical devices be removed prior to cremation. They may explode when subjected to high temperature, which can be hazardous to crematory staff and equipment. In addition, any special mementos, such as jewelry, will be destroyed during the cremation process. Anything you wish to keep should be removed by the funeral director before the casket or container is transferred to the crematory.

Is it true that the bones are crushed after cremation? I've heard you don't get ashes back -- what do you get?

A complete cremation is a two-step process. Firstly, the actual exposure of the deceased to several hours of intense heat and flame; after which the remains are mostly ash except for certain bone fragments, then the entire remaining ash and fragment volume is gathered and run through a processor, creating a uniform powder-like texture.

Why is refrigeration of the remains necessary?

Due to the irreversible nature of cremation, most states require a waiting period before the actual process may begin. Unless a body is embalmed, refrigeration is the only alternative available that will retard tissue decomposition. Refrigeration is a necessity that protects family and friends, the crematory operator and the general public from potential health hazards.

Is embalming necessary for cremation?

No. In most cases, it is your choice. It may depend on such factors as whether the family selected a service with a public viewing of the body, whether there is to be a funeral service, or whether there is refrigeration available. Embalming may also be necessary if the body is going to be transported by air or rail, or because of the length of time prior to the cremation.

Is a casket required?

No. For sanitary reasons, ease of placement and dignity, many crematories require that the deceased be cremated in a combustible, leak proof, rigid, covered container. This does not need to be a casket as such. What is required is an enclosed, rigid, container made of wood or other combustible material to allow for the dignified handling of human remains. The type of casket or container selected is really a personal decision. Caskets and containers are available in a wide variety of materials ranging from simple cardboard containers to beautifully handcrafted oak, maple or mahogany caskets.

Are there special cremation caskets?

There is a choice of very affordable cremation caskets that are completely combustible. The selection includes options from a simple pine or cloth-covered casket to a hardwood casket.

Can a casket be rented instead of purchased when choosing cremation?

Many funeral homes offer a hardwood ceremonial casket for viewing or funeral services prior to cremation. The ceremonial (or rental) casket is specifically designed to provide a very aesthetically pleasing, affordable and environmentally prudent alternative to purchasing a casket for a cremation service.

Can I bring my own urn?

Yes — It would be advisable that you discuss this situation with your cremation provider prior to the cremation. The size of your urn will be of great importance if you plan to have all of the cremated remains included in this container.

Can I watch the cremation?

Arrangements can usually be made through the funeral home or crematory for relatives or representatives of the deceased to witness the cremation.

Do all funeral homes and cemeteries have a crematory?

No - actually only a small percentage of cremation service providers have their own cremation units.

Is cremation a substitution for a funeral?

No, cremation is simply a method of preparing human remains for final disposition.

Do I have to make different funeral arrangements if I chose cremation?

It really depends entirely on how you wish to commemorate a life. One of the advantages of cremation is that it provides you with increased flexibility when you make your funeral and cemetery arrangements. You might, for example, choose to have a funeral service before the cremation; a memorial service at the time of cremation or after the cremation with the urn present; or a committal service at the final disposition of cremated remains. Funeral or memorial services can be held in a place of worship, a funeral home or in a crematory chapel.

Can we have the service before or after the cremation?

It's completely a matter of family preference. Many times when a family is split regarding the decision to cremate, a compromise may be achieved by having a traditional service first - to be followed by cremation.

What can be done with the cremated remains?

With cremation, your options are numerous. The cremains can be interred in a cemetery plot, i.e., earth burial, retained by a family member, usually in an urn, scattered on private property, or at a place that was significant to the deceased. (It would always be advisable to check for local regulations regarding scattering in a public place.) Cremation is just one step in the commemorative process—the preparation of the human remains for memorialization. Today, there are many different types of memorial options from which to choose. Memorialization is a time-honored tradition that has been practiced for centuries. A memorial serves as a tribute to a life lived and provides a focal point for remembrance, as well as a record for future generations. The type of memorial you choose is a personal decision. The limit is set only by your imagination.

Can I scatter the remains on private property?

Yes, with permission of the owner.

What is memorialization for a cremation?

You might choose ground burial of the urn. If so, you may usually choose either a bronze memorial or monument. Also available at many cemeteries are cremation niches in columbariums. They offer the beauty of a mausoleum setting with the benefits of above ground placement of remains. Many cemeteries also offer scattering gardens. This area of a cemetery offers the peacefulness of a serene garden where family and friends can come and reflect.

What is a columbarium?

A columbarium, often located within a mausoleum or chapel, sometimes free-standing, either indoor or outdoor, is constructed of numerous small compartments (niches) designed to hold urns containing cremated remains.

If I'm going to be cremated, why would I want my remains to be placed in a columbarium, or interred or scattered at the cemetery? Why shouldn't I just have them scattered in the sea or in some other place of my choosing?

As long as it is permitted by local regulations, the cremated remains can be scattered in a place that is meaningful to you. This can, however, present difficulties for your survivors. Some people may find it hard to simply pour the mortal remains of a loved one out onto the ground or into the sea. If you wish to be scattered somewhere, it is therefore important to discuss your wishes ahead of time with the person or persons who will actually have to do the scattering. Another difficulty with scattering can occur when the remains are disposed of in an anonymous, unmarked or public place. Access to the area may be restricted for some reason in the future, undeveloped land may be developed, or any of a host of other conditions may arise that could make it difficult for your survivors to visit the site to remember you. Even if your cremated remains are scattered in your backyard, what happens if your survivors relocate sometime in the future? Once scattered, cremated remains cannot easily be collected back up. Having your remains placed, interred or scattered on a cemetery’s grounds ensures that future generations will have a place to go to remember. If remains are scattered somewhere outside the cemetery, many cemeteries will allow you to place a memorial of some type on the cemetery grounds, so survivors have a place to visit that will always be maintained and preserved.

Why is having a place to visit so important?

Because it provides a focal point for memorializing the deceased. To remember, and be remembered, are natural human needs. Throughout human history, memorialization of the dead has been a key component of almost every culture. The Washington Monument, Tomb of the Unknowns and Vietnam “Wall” in Washington, D.C are examples of memorialization which demonstrate that, throughout our history, we have always honored our dead. Psychologists say that remembrance practices, from the funeral or memorial service to permanent memorialization, serve an important emotional function for survivors by helping to bring closure and allowing the healing process to begin. Providing a permanent resting place for the deceased is a dignified treatment for a loved one's mortal remains, which fulfills the natural human desire for memorialization.

If I am cremated, can I be buried with my spouse even if he or she was in a casket?

Yes — Depending upon the cemetery's policy, you may be able to save a grave space by having the cremains buried on top of the casketed remains of your spouse, or utilize the space provided next to him/her. Many cemeteries allow for multiple cremated remains to be interred in a single grave space.

Can I take the cremated remains home?

Yes. The remains are normally placed in an urn. Most families select an urn that is suitable for placement on a mantle or shelf. Urns are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials.

How big of a price difference is there with cremation compared to standard ground burial?

The cost depends on the type of permanent memorial, location of the memorial, urn and placement selected.

Do all religions permit cremation?

Some religions prefer cremation; some do not recommend the practice; most permit you to choose. Should you have any questions or concerns, we suggest you speak with a member of your clergy, or contact your local prearrangement provider.

Source: NFDA

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Average Funeral Cost 2010

Funeral Costs

Cost of regular adult funeral including following basic items. Does not include cemetery, monument/marker costs or miscellaneous cash advance charges such as for flowers or obituaries.

Non-declinable basic services fee$1,817
Removal/transfer of remains to funeral home$250
Other preparation of the body$200
Use of facilities/staff for viewing$395
Use of facilities/staff for funeral ceremony$450
Use of a hearse$275
Use of a service car/van$125
Basic memorial printed package$125
Subtotal without Casket:$4,265
Metal Casket$2,295
Total Cost of a Funeral with Vault

2010 NFDA General Price List Survey.

*Not included is the Cemetery plot and Headstone, which will run between $1500 to $6000 for both depending on cemetery.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Consumer Guide to Cemetery Purchases

Many people ask us about the costs to expect with a funeral, but they often forget that cemetery expenses are in addition to and separate from services you pay a funeral home or crematory to perform. Buying burial rights at a cemetery can be a complicated and costly process, and cemeteries aren’t sufficiently regulated in most states. While the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule entitles you to printed price lists, truthful disclosures, and the right to buy only what you want from the mortuary, this rule doesn’t cover cemeteries. A few states offer cemetery customers those protections at the state level, but most don’t. It’s important to know exactly what you’re buying, and how to negotiate for it, before you’re in the grave.

The Basics

Right of Interment—What most people would call “the grave.” When you “buy a grave,” you haven’t actually bought a piece of property like the land your house sits on. You’ve bought the right to be buried in a particular space (whether that’s a full-body grave, a small space for ashes, or a slot in a mausoleum).

Opening/Closing—The charges to dig the grave and fill it back in once the casket or urn is placed. If you entomb the casket or urn in a mausoleum space, this charge also applies. Opening/closing charges are usually not included in the cost of the right of interment. That means if you “bought a grave,” even many years ago, you or your survivors will likely have to pay an additional opening/closing fee.

Vault—Also known as an “outer burial container” or “grave-liner” these are boxes for your box. Made of concrete, steel or lightweight fiberglass-type materials, they are placed in the grave with the casket inside. While there are no laws in any state that require them, many cemeteries do. They’re designed to prevent the ground from sinking as the casket deteriorates over time, making it easier to mow the grass with heavy equipment. The funeral director or cemetery staff will usually order the vault and arrange for the vault company to install it for the burial. The installation cost may be included in the retail price of the vault, but sometimes it’s separate, and $200 is not uncommon.

No casket, vault or container of any kind will prevent the body from decomposing; even those that are marketed as “sealed” or “air-tight” and none of them will keep out air, water, or dirt indefinitely. If someone is trying to sell you a vault to “protect” the casket, they’re manipulating your emotions with unrealistic promises. The only thing such costly boxes will do is lighten your wallet.

Mausoleums—Above-ground buildings where the casket is placed in a drawer-like space with a plaque bearing the name of the deceased. Some people choose mausoleum entombment because they don’t like the idea of being in the ground and because they often provide a comfortable place to visit no matter the weather. Some are marketed as a “clean and dry” alternative to ground burial, but the quality of how mausoleums are built and maintained varies significantly. The body will still decompose in a mausoleum space, and there have been a number of unfortunate incidents of fluids and odors leaking out of the crypts. Be sure to check the mausoleum for cleanliness ahead of time and do not do business with a mausoleum that requires a “sealed” casket. Those caskets (they have a rubber gasket around the lid) are what cause gas build-up and leaking.

Columbariums—Miniature versions of mausoleums designed for urns containing cremated remains. While they are usually less expensive than full-sized spaces, they can still be quite costly.

Perpetual Care—Most states require cemeteries to deposit a percentage of every sale into a maintenance fund to ensure upkeep of the grounds and the graves over the years. This percentage usually ranges from 5 to 15-percent. Many cemeteries have managed their funds carefully over the years. But many have not, and even conservatively run cemeteries have found the maintenance funds haven’t grown sufficiently to keep up with inflation, especially as fewer families buy conventional graves. While you can’t avoid paying the perpetual care fee, understand that it’s no guarantee the cemetery will be properly maintained forever. Funeral Consumers Alliance is seeing a rise in the number of cemeteries going broke and defunct from either mismanagement, theft of the maintenance funds, or low returns because of a poor investment market.

Before You Buy

Unlike with funeral homes, federal regulations don’t require cemeteries to give you a printed, itemized price list before you buy and there are no federal regulations that give cemetery customers the right to buy only the services and merchandise they want. Funeral homes, for example, may not require you to buy their casket, and they can’t impose a “handling fee” if you bring in a casket from an outside vendor. But these rules don’t apply to cemeteries.

Because cemetery regulation is so lax, consumers frequently complain that cemeteries tell them the family must buy the headstone only from the cemetery. Or, that the cemetery will impose a ludicrous “inspection fee” for any markers purchased from an outside vendor. One man told us a Mississippi cemetery tried to charge him $2.50 per square inch to inspect the marker he bought from a local business. At $7,000, he would have paid the cemetery three times what the marker cost just for the staff to (allegedly) inspect it. We believe this kind of behavior is a clear violation of federal anti-trust and monopoly laws, but few states are paying attention.
In addition, only a few states require cemeteries to give you a copy of the rules pertaining to allowable markers and visiting hours before the sale. Because of these problems, you need to be proactive as a consumer:

  • Get a printed, itemized price list for all services and merchandise before you buy.
  • Get a copy of the cemetery’s rules and regulations ahead of time. Pay particular attention to the type and size of monuments that are allowed. Remember, cemeteries have the right to set such rules, and it’s no good to spend money on a monument the cemetery won’t allow to be set.
  • Be aware of the cemetery’s rules on grave decorations ahead of time. Most cemeteries will bar glass items and excessive decorations such as numerous pinwheels, picket fencing, etc. It is legitimate for a cemetery to set such standards for aesthetics and safety, but be sure you know what they are before you buy.

Do not do business with any cemetery that will not provide this information ahead of time. If their business attitude before the sale makes you uncomfortable, imagine how you’d feel down the line with a friend or relative buried there in perpetuity, knowing you had no choice but to deal with this business.

  • Think long and hard before you buy a cemetery plot ahead of time. It may be enticing to “act now before prices go up,” but buying interment rights ahead of time can be a costly mistake. It is difficult to predict with certainty that you’ll still be living in the cemetery’s area many years down the road, and transporting a casket a long distance can be extremely costly for your survivors. It can be quite difficult to sell a grave you no longer need and with the cremation rate rising, it’s only getting harder to sell full-sized graves on the secondary market. However, purchasing ahead of time may make sense if you have a family tradition, strong feelings about using a specific cemetery, or if you are choosing one that is likely to run out of space.

How Much Will It Cost?

Prices for cemetery services vary so widely around the country, it’s impossible to give an average figure. In many rural areas, small, nonprofit cemeteries will sell you a full-sized grave for $300 or so, and perhaps charge $200 to $500 to open the grave. Cemeteries in urban areas—particularly those owned by for-profit companies—often charge $5,000 to $10,000 for a full-sized grave or mausoleum space, and the opening and closing. Even burial of a small urn can be very costly; one family complained that a corporate-owned cemetery charged them $800 just to turn a few screws and remove the small plate that opened the columbarium space for the urn.
In very broad terms, it’s not unusual to expect to pay at least $2,000 for the cemetery costs of a full-casket burial over and above the cost of the funeral. But your mileage will vary; as with all death-related costs, shop around among as many cemeteries as you can ahead of time.

  • In many areas, full body burial is allowed on your own property; check the zoning rules in your county.
  • It is legal in every state to bury or sprinkle cremated remains on private property with permission of the landowner.
  • Beware of bogus veteran’s sales tactics offering a free grave to the vet but charging an inflated rate to the spouse. Remember that vets and their spouses are entitled to free burials in a federal VA cemetery and free or nearly free burial in a state VA cemetery.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Funeral Cost

How Much Does a Funeral Cost?

When a loved one dies, grieving family members and friends are often confronted with dozens of decisions about the funeral - all of which must be made quickly and often under great emotional duress. What kind of funeral should it be? What funeral provider should you use? Should you bury or cremate the body, or donate it to science? What other arrangements should you plan? And, as callous as it may sound, how much is it all going to cost?

Listed below is the approximate funeral cost for services and burial. Prices may vary depending on area (metropolitan or rural).

Most Common Funeral Services and Cost

Professional Charges $1,200
Embalming $400
Other preparations $150
Visitation/viewing $315
Funeral at funeral home $350
Funeral Home transferring $160
Hearse (local) $180
Service car/van $90
Acknowledgement cards $15
Casket $2200
Vault $800

Subtotal $5,860

Burial Cost

Cemetery plot $2000
Opening and closing the grave $850
Headstone or marker $1500

Subtotal $4,350

Total Funeral and Burial Cost $10,210