FAQ's Relating to Funerals and Cremations














 
 
 
 

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FAQ's Relating to Funerals and Cremations

 
Preplanning a funeral or cremation  -  Understanding cremation laws  -  Funeral Shipping

  Home Funerals  -  Moving a body between funeral homes  -  Embalming Laws

Spanish-speaking Funeral Homes  -  Cemetery Plot Selling

Preplanning a funeral or cremation

Visitor 77116313   04 Apr 2014, 02:31 PM 
My mother, perhaps unfortunately, signed up for direct cremation with PRENEEDS Family Service Eastern Region. The rate they charged her in 2006 is double what you cite here. Now they want to charge for death certificates. Is this a fee I can get them to waive?

I am afraid such is the nature of purchasing preneed cremation plans.  With the significant increase in cremation rates in the U.S. it has actually driven the price for a cremation down in many areas.

The charges for a death certificate are generally considered “cash advances” and are generally not included in a funeral/cremation package.  As the fee for a death certificate is such a small ancillary fee, you may be able to appeal to the preneed company to waive this fee, but I would expect that they have it in the fine print that this is an additional fee that you must pay at the time of death.

Visitor 22098860  7:54 AM  March 10th 2014
Hi, If up to $6,000 is placed into a funeral plan is it discounted if you are assessed for Medicaid at a later date? 

Hello. Yes this is correct!

Does this also hold true with a pod account?

No I believe that a POD account would not be discounted.

Thank you...

With a funeral plan the funds do go into a trust. With a POD the funds still remain in your control.  You are welcome. IS there anything else I can help you with?

Yes. In considering prepaying.... part of the issue is to secure the funds for that particular situation without a future threat of having them taken....So, would prepaying at a funeral home be the best option then?

Preplanning is a great idea and it would save so many families stress if everyone did it! However, the big question is whether to prepay or not. We like to advocate the POD option as the funds always remain in your control and any interest accruing is yours. However, should an individual be assessed for Medicaid at a later date, any funds put into a POD will be considered.

You can prefund using an insurance policy, which may be an alternative option to a trust fund through a funeral home.

Many of our DFS Memorials providers do offer their low cost cremations to be prepaid either by an insurance product or sometimes even on terms.

How about an insurance policy from the Funeral home?

The real question is whether it is essential to protect the funds from being considered in a Medicaid assessment.
Yes, many funeral homes offer insurance policies.
It does vary somewhat state by state. Laws about how they can pre-fund.

Any dangers here?

...sadly nothing is certain these days!! There have been numerous accounts of funeral trusts that have gone belly-up!  And I read ongoing stories of embezzlement by funeral directors. These are odd cases though...In the main it is a very professional and highly-regulated industry.  But nearly everywhere any money has to go into a trust fund.
Personally I would say that a trusted insurance product should give you peace of mind and security.

A POD is great if you have no future concerns about finance and a Medicaid assessment.
Many nursing/care facilities today are demanding evidence of some kind of funeral plan before admitting patients.

Wayne 02/03/2014
Greetings. I have a P.O.D. account set up for my funeral expenses. My beneficiary is my local church. If I give detailed instructions as to my wishes is there anything that can go wrong with this arrangement? Is this a good idea? Just trying to cover all the bases!! Thanks

This sounds like an excellent plan.  Do you have more than one beneficiary at the Church?  And do you have family that have been made aware of your wishes?  So long as your next of kin are aware of your plans, this sounds like you have covered all the bases.

Thanks for your response. I only have the Church as the beneficiary. I do have the pastor and one deacon down as contacts. Would it be better to have them as my beneficiary? Whatever money is left in the account I want to donate to the Church. And yes my next of kin will be aware of my wishes.

It sounds like you have everything prepared and in order.   I believe it is wise to have more than one person able to withdraw the funds, and it seems you have this in place.  I presume by having the Church as the beneficiary this enables greater flexibility over how they can access the funds.  I am more familiar with where we recommend that someone with a P.O.D ensure there is more than one beneficiary in case something happens to one person, or to ensure that the money can be accessed easily without depending on just one person.

Susie 01/29/2014
Do you have to have a permit from anyone to bury the dead on your own land? Does the law require a vault or liner or anything in that case?  I am interested in a natural funeral for our family when the time comes and I would like info for natural burials and funerals

Hello. You need to check with local ordnance about zoning and you need to register with the deeds of the property the location of a family cemetery.. You do not need a vault or liner but you do need to ensure you follow some guidelines about the burial.i.e. not near power lines, water etc.

Is there a book or pamphlet about it all so I know the laws, rules AND my rights. For IL of course. We live in the SE part of the state

Here is an article http://www.us-funerals.com/funeral-articles/do-it-yourself-funerals.html
There are some organizations listed at the bottom of the article that help with home death care.

Who did I see about the zoning and property deeds etc. I really don't want to work with the funeral homes in my area.

The Home Funeral Alliance may be able to issue you with a pamphlet about home death care.
I am not sure exactly whom you need to contact but I would start with maybe a county planning dept.

Thank you for your assistance and the info.

Visitor 37906554  Feb 28th 2014
Hello. I have a quotation from a Fort Myers FL funeral home for $2072 for collection of a body refrigeration and cremation & disposal at sea Other funeral homes quote round about $4000

Yes, we are familiar with Fort Myers Mortuary Services. They do genuinely offer the most competitive prices in SW Florida.

Thanks. The funeral home is SCI FL and BBB confirms it is licensed.

Yes, Fort Myers is licensed and very professional how it operates. It is run by former SCI staff but offers much more affordable pricing.

Thank you again. Do you think I could get as good a service with an even cheaper outfit?

I do believe you will find that Fort Myers Mortuary offers about the best price. 

Understanding cremation laws

Visitor 33919720  6:17 AM  March 26th 2014
I am in the beginning stages of gathering information necessary to open a crematory in Pa.
I began this process a while ago and stopped when I discovered it was not possible to do so in NJ unless you were a Cemetery.

Yes, I believe they have laws in place in NJ that prevent a funeral home opening a crematory. Same in NY.  Mind you PA has some rather strange laws too!

My partner and I have many years in the cemetery field and would like to offer an affordable solution for the many families that cannot afford a traditional burial. Where can I find the complete list of "strange" laws?  Do you have to be a funeral director to own a crematory in Pa. I was under the impression you did not have to be?

I am afraid I do not have the answer to that question. I would suggest you check with the Pennsylvania Cemetery Cremation and Funeral Association (PCCFA) 
100 S. 21st Street, Harrisburg, PA 17104 
Telephone: 717-236-9970 

I did contact them and they were not able to answer any of my questions. 
I was told they pretty much handle mostly complaints from families.

I know that a funeral home in PA has to be in the name of the funeral director who owns it. A FD can only own no more than 3 funeral homes, food cannot be offered in a funeral home.

I did however find Pennsylvania's DEP laws and application to apply to construct a crematory which had a lot of useful laws. 

Yes, I would have thought that the body that licenses and regulates the industry should be able to advise you!
Have you tried speaking with a PA funeral director for guidance?

I did find those same laws online. Unfortunately my questions are more specific to ownership laws. The transportation of human remains to the crematory across state lines, etc.
I did consider contacting a PA funeral director and will do so today.

Ah...I suspect info may not be forthcoming - almost a form of protectionism!!

I was thinking the same thing. 

We do work with a few FDs in PA as part of our DFS Memorials network.
These are all genuine family-owned guys who offer affordable options for families.
They may be willing to speak with you??
Whereabouts in NJ are you located?

Supposedly that Organization does not set laws it’s just handle complaints which I found odd.

Yes, that does seem odd....but I sometimes consider the way tings operate in PA "odd".......

I am located in central NJ. It takes me about an hour to get to the Pa border around Easton Pa

Okay. We work with Irwin Judd Funeral Home in Allentown, PA. Tim Beville is the manager there and a very decent guy. They offer a simple cremation for $1,170 but I know they do not have a crematory and use another crematory. But he may be worth talking with??
The crematory he uses recently increased their cremation fee by about $200!!
How much do you charge for a direct cremation in NJ?

I appreciate your help. We are looking to offer the cremation to a funeral home for around $275-$300. Possible less if we get a commitment from them for a certain number a year.

So you are looking to do trade cremations?

Tim may be worth speaking to in order to find out what rate he is currently paying.

The new cremation equipment we are looking into putting in place are extremely efficient and will allow us to offer a greater discount.  I will contact him today.

Okay. Please drop me an email with your details. It may be worth me keeping on file for the DFS Memorials network as we offer low cost cremation services throughout PA.

All our research shows an average price of around $375-$400. If we could legally transport remains across state lines we feel we could offer a service to reach as far as NJ & NY possibly further at no cost.

Sounds interesting! We also have a partner funeral company who serve a lot of NY.

I will definitely send you my information. 

They currently sometimes drive into NJ for cremations.
Good luck with your research, and please do keep me posted!

We feel strongly about offering the lowest price to help out families in need. We literally see the pain families face on a daily basis.

I agree TOTALLY. I answer calls nearly every day from a family in anguish because a loved one has died and they have little money to arrange a funeral.
Hence why we set up DFS Memorials!
 

Visitor 7237652  March 18th 2014
Inquiring on procedure for cremation

Hello. How can I help?

My daughtercalled to find out about cremation and the procedure. Her mother in law is on life support and hospital is planning on discontinuing. How do they go about arranging for cremation?
My husband was cremated - my sons handled everything and I really don't know what to do first? There is little to no money available so the children have to pay for everything

The legal next of kin must sign a cremation authorization form and then the funeral director can obtain a cremation permit.  Whereabouts is the cremation required? I can check for prices for you.

Is it possible to this without a funeral company? They want to have a memorial service at their home church. The cremation will be in Dayton Ohio

Yes, in all but 8 states it IS possible to make your own funeral/cremation arrangements without having to employ a funeral director.

I will send her the name of DFS Memorials in Dayton

Yes, Eric at DFS Memorials Dayton charges $699 COMPLETE for a basic cremation
He is about the best price we know of!

Thank you calling him now

He can help her arrange for the cremation and once she has the ashes returned, she can arrange a memorial service at the church.  You are welcome
 

Visitor 55458705  March 17th 2014
My parents died and were cremated in the state of Alabama. I now have their ashes and want to honor their wishes about having their cremains placed in a niche in Michigan. How do I get a burial permit?

It is my understanding that you do NOT require a burial permit to inter the cremation ashes in a niche in Michigan.  Cremation is considered final disposition, so transit permits are not required when the cremated remains are moved after cremation.
 

Visitor 91981564  March 14th 2014
My neighbor told me it was legal to cremate your loved one yourself. Example like Indian's used to do

No it is not legal to conduct a cremation yourself.  You have to use a licensed crematory.  There is an outdoor pyre in Colorado that offers outdoor cremations, but this is the only one of its kind in the US.

That's good! I prefer cremation! Thank you for your help!
 

Visitor 48135614
My mother passed away on January 15th, 2014. We had her funeral last week and my brother went to identify the remains before she was cremated. When he arrived at the mortuary, he found out that our mother was already cremated. No one identified the body at hospital either. Were any laws broken? What recourse do we have?

Hello.
I believe an ID should be done. Also the legal next of kin has to sign the cremation authorization form before a cremation can be done.
So who signed it?

Her husband I believe signed it when we paid for the funeral package We were told we would have to identify the body before cremation

Ah, yes so her husband is legal next of kin. I am not entirely sure of the recourse you may have. By signing the forms he may have inadvertently have identified the body.  You may need to verify with an attorney or the state funeral board if there has been any breach of protocol.

That makes sense. We are just very upset. Thank you for your help. I will pass this info on to my family.

Understandably! I am just trying to read a cremation authorization form to see if there is anything on it that suggests by signing it you have ID'd the body.  From what I can gather there are variations by state.
You may wish to seek counsel from the Arizona Board of Funeral Directors or the Arizona State Board that licenses funeral establishments. They can maybe verify.

Thank you, you have given me a place to start a discussion

Visitor 96181581
Hello, my co worker would like to bury the ashes of her friend. Do you have that as an option?

Hello. Yes you can bury cremation ashes if you so choose.

What does that cost through you?

We do not offer it directly you will need to speak with a local cemetery or funeral provider to find out your options and costs.

Visitor 72004342  Jan 20th 2014
In Louisiana, who can authorize the cremation of human remains?

This guide to funerals and cremations in Louisiana covers this: http://www.us-funerals.com/funeral-articles/funerals-and-cremations-in-louisiana.html
The legal next of kin must sign the cremation authorization form

If there are multiple surviving children, do all children need to authorize the cremation?

No I believe only one signature is required but you may wish to confirm this, as I do know that Louisiana is one state that does have a few 'strange' funeral laws!  Generally I believe the eldest child takes responsibility as 'next of kin'.  Unless another sibling has been a primary care-giver and has agreement from siblings to make the funeral arrangements/cremation authorization.

Visitor 65606730 Jan 16th 2014
Is there a specific form for the adult children of a deceased person to sign to cremate their remains?

Hello. Yes, there is a cremation authorization form

Can I get it online?

Some funeral homes do publish the cremation authorization form online
Or it can be emailed or faxed to you by the funeral home/crematory.

Funeral Shipping

Visitor Tommy Coye  March 24th 2014
My partner and I have traveled back and forth to Puerto Vallarta Mexico. He loves it there and has decided that PV is where he would like to spend his final days... he has stage IV Metastatic Melanoma. His final wish is to be cremated and I would need help in pre-arranging such plans before we return. Can you help? I imagine we would need contact with an English-speaking funeral home to arrange a plan for cremation as well as a better understanding of what paper work is needed both for cremation and for transport after the fact. Also, it would be helpful to understand the approximately cost for all of this. Many, many thanks for your help!

Thank you for your inquiry.   I have attached a PDF document which lists the funeral homes in Puerto Vallarta and what services/prices they offer.  Hopefully this may be a starting point for you.  For a person to be cremated you will need a copy of the death certificate and to sign a cremation authorization form as the legal next of kin.

To transport the cremated remains back into the US as carry-on.  You will need the remains to be in a container that can pass through x-ray and is therefore acceptable by the TSA.  It is wise to carry with the remains the death certificate and cremation permit.  I am not sure if you would need English translated copies of these or not.  The consular agent for Puerto Vallarta is Kelly Trainor, and she can be reached at:

Paseo de los Cocoteros #85 
Sur Paradise Plaza
Interior Local L-7
Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit 
C.P. 63732
Phone (322) 222-0069
E-Mail: consularagentpvr@prodigy.net.mx

Hopefully, this information will assist you to begin to put the necessary plans in place.  If I can be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact me.

Visitor 82512250  Feb 2nd 2014
Hello I am trying to find out about transport from Douglasville, GA to Huntington, WV

Are you inquiring about land transportation?

Either, I'd like to compare prices  I will need it within the next month or so

A body can be transported over land and the funeral home will generally charge for the preparation and then a loaded mile fee.  It is around 475 miles  And the loaded rate mileage fee varies between funeral homes

So we should talk with the funeral home where we have the funeral or the funeral home where the body is prepared

from $1.00 to $3.00 per mile
It depends. You may find that a local funeral director in GA to do the prep and transport and then a funeral home in WV to handle the funeral.  Depends if your funeral home in WV will travel down to do the collection and how much they will charge. I have found funeral homes in WV to be more expensive than most.
So you may find you can save money by having a GA funeral home do the collect, prep and transport and deliver to your chosen funeral home in WV

And is air transport ever any cheaper?

Sometimes yes, depending on the airline and the routes.  Generally speaking the fee to collect and prepare the body for air shipping is anywhere between $600 and $2,000 - plus the air cargo fee.

Thank you so much for the help!

You are welcome. I can give you the details of a funeral home we work with in Atlanta who offer very reasonable rates if you wish.  They may be able to quote you an exact cost.

Home Funerals

Visitor 88864948  Jan 21st 2014
Do you have to have a permit from anyone to bury the dead on your own land? Does the law require a vault or liner or anything in that case?  I am interested in a natural funeral for our family when the time comes and I would like info for natural burials and funerals

Hello. You need to check with local ordnance about zoning and you need to register with the deeds of the property the location of a family cemetery..  You do not need a vault or liner but you do need to ensure you follow some guidelines about the burial.  i.e. not near power lines, water etc.

Is there a book or pamphlet about it all so I know the laws, rules AND my rights. For IL of course. We live in the SE part of the state

Here is an article http://www.us-funerals.com/funeral-articles/do-it-yourself-funerals.html
There are some organizations listed at the bottom of the article that help with home death care.

Who did I see about the zoning and property deeds etc. I really don't want to work with the funeral homes in my area.

The Home Funeral Alliance may be able to issue you with a pamphlet about home death care.  I am not sure exactly whom you need to contact but I would start with maybe a county planning dept.

Thank you for your assistance and the info.

I expect someone within the HFA or Natural Burial Cooperative may be able to guide you.
Good luck!

Moving a body between funeral homes

Visitor 9656853  Feb 3rd 2014
I would like to inquire about the direct cremation. I see you have it for $595.00 is that correct?

Hello.  Yes that is correct.

Is that the total plus tax?

That is inclusive except for any sales tax.

My Mom's body was taken by the assisted living she was in to Regency Funeral Home in Malvern. They did this on their own., Can we lock in that price for me for my Mom and can one of your Funeral homes handle this. They said direct includes shipping the ashes to me?

You need to check first. The funeral home that your Mom was taken to may charge you for collecting and storing her body, even if she is transferred to another facility. With a direct cremation the ashes can be shipped to you. This is generally an incremental option and can cost anywhere between $20 and $50.
If there is a significant saving between what Regency want to charge you and our $595 cremation, you may decide to transfer the services.  How much do Regency want to charge you for a direct cremation?
Just looked them up - seems they charge $1,495 for a direct cremation. That is quite a difference!!

Yes mam it is a lot different and I asked for the best? And he gave me that. my cousin had told me she had seen on tv your price as well.  This is so stressful as it is what can i do to secure you guys

I understand. It is such a stressful time and so many decisions to be made with such short notice.

yes, it is like the home just sent her over there right away

If you would like our provider to handle services for you, I would suggest you speak with them, and see what can be done to move her.

ok please put me in touch so maybe they can help me

Yes, I completely understand. Many nursing homes etc have 'arrangements; with a funeral home so they just send all their clients there

they did not even give us a minutes time  ok i will call them, what is the name of the place

Richard is the funeral director. He can perhaps best advise you how to go about transferring your Mom.
Yes it is very wrong that nursing/assisted living facilities are so quick to send a body out to a funeral home.
He has the local knowledge and can probably best advise how he can handle this to move your Mom and what it will cost.

i am on the phone with Richard the owner...  perfect he is awesome and helping me thank you so much God Bless you!!!!!

You are welcome. 

Embalming Laws

Visitor 62274271  Feb 9th 2014
my mother is hospice and doesn't have much longer when she passes I am not having a open casket or viewing at funeral home I will have a service at the cemetery inside at the mausoleum will she have to be embalmed since there is no open viewing

There are no state laws that stipulate a body must be embalmed but some funeral homes and cemeteries may have regulations that state a body must be embalmed for an open casket viewing, if the body is being stored at the funeral home over a certain length of time, or if a body is being buried in an above ground mausoleum. 

Spanish-speaking Funeral Homes

Visitor 21806740  Feb 11th 2014
I need a funeral home that can help with Spanish speaking client's

Some funeral homes do offer a bilingual or Spanish-speaking member of staff.  Often they promote this on their funeral home website by stating “en habla espanol”.  If you want to provide me with an email address, I will see if I can find a Spanish-speaking funeral home in Michigan for you and email you the details.

Thanks so much.

Cemetery Plot Selling

Visitor 53967457  March 19th 2014
I live in Michigan about ten years ago when I lived in Metairie, LA I bought two small burial plots for cremated remains. I buried a friend in one of them and there is one left.  Are there companies that would buy the remaining burial plot? 

Yes, there may be. You need to consult with a cemetery re-sale agent. You can either find someone locally in Metairie. Or choose a reputable online cemetery exchange site.

How do I find a cemetery re sale agent? How do I pursue this? 

I would search online for "selling a cemetery plot online". There are a few companies, but we do not endorse any!

Visitor 16410446 Feb 28th 2014
I have a deed from my grandmother dated 1899and would like to find out how to sell it

Hello. You need to consult with a funeral property agent.  Either locally via a cemetery or an online cemetery broker

So it doesn't have to be in the location of the cemetery

It depends and I only have limited knowledge. First thing you need to check is the details of the actual deeds and any limitations on re-selling.  Sometimes you can re-sell a plot back to the cemetery.
Or if there are no restrictions - you can post it for sale to someone who wishes to purchase a plot in said cemetery.

Can you recommend a cemetery broker?

We do not endorse any company. I cannot vouch for the integrity of cemetery brokers.
If you do a search for 'cemetery plot brokers' you may find a few agents.
You may also wish to inquire at the cemetery where the plot is - they may be able to refer an agent
 

Expert Author: Sara J. Marsden

Sara is the Editor in Chief for US Funerals Online and has been researching and writing about the death care industry in the US for the last 5 years.

Published: 03/25/2014

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