spend millions of dollars on funeral services in Illinois each year, as
the death care business is a very big industry. However, despite this huge
spend, the average consumer knows very little about the goods and services
offered in the funeral trade or the laws regulating their sale. A
funeral is often referred to as a “distressed purchase” as it is often
made when you are feeling most vulnerable but it is always good practice
to shop around for funeral services just like any other consumer purchase.
If you know of a funeral home,
or have a recommendation, that is a good place to start. However,
whether a particular funeral provider is right for your needs may depend
more on location and your specific funeral requirements. It is essential
to clearly define what your needs are before contacting a funeral provider,
that way you can remain in control and ensure you get the services YOU
want, and not what you may just be led into in your distressed state.
It can help to have a friend with you whilst you make inquiries, or even
to make the calls, and a written list of what services you require.
How do you choose which
funeral home or cremation provider is right for your needs?
Choosing a funeral provider
that best suits your needs is probably the most important decision you
need to make as soon as you start thinking about arranging a funeral.
Unfortunately, this too often occurs when a death is imminent, or has already
occurred, making the decision time-critical. This means that many
families in Illinois choose a funeral establishment without having had
much time to consult or research.
The Federal Trade Commission's
(FTC) Funeral Practices Trade Regulation Rule, as well as a number of Illinois
state regulations, regulates the funeral profession in Illinois. These
laws are designed to prevent fraud by making members of the general public
better-informed consumers of funeral goods and services. The federal rule
is complicated, but there are some important points to know. Funeral directors
in Illinois must make their prices available over the phone and a general
price list available as you start any discussions about a funeral service.
At the conclusion of discussions, a funeral director must provide an itemized
statement reflecting the goods and services you have selected.
How do I find a funeral
home or cremation provider in Illinois?
There are several directories,
national and local, that can help you locate funeral homes and cremation
providers in Illinois. US Funerals Online was established in 2002,
and is both a directory and funeral resource. Our directory lists
ALL funeral homes and cremation providers by city in zip code order, making
it exceptionally simple for you to locate your nearest provider and also
see all the funeral businesses available to you.
Do you want a burial or
This is one of the first things
you need to decide. Burial is still more popular than cremation in Illinois,
with about 70% choosing a burial. However, the cremation rate is
increasing fast, especially as the cost of a burial in Illinois can be
so expensive these days. A burial requires expenditure on such things
as a casket, burial liner, grave vault, burial plot and grave marker.
And these items alone can add up to thousands of dollars.
Illinois state law allows
for you to bury your loved ones on family estate if you own the land.
What is the cost of a
funeral or cremation in Illinois?
This is the question that is
at the forefront of most peoples’ minds today. How much does a funeral
cost? The answer is it can vary considerably, depending on what type
of services you select and where you live. The National Association
of Funeral Directors (NFDA) put the average cost of a funeral today at
$7,300. If you opt for simplicity, and reduce the incremental services,
you can conduct a funeral for much less. If you opt for a traditional
full-service funeral, it can cost you much more than this. A direct
cremation is by far the cheapest funeral option. This is a minimal
type of disposition service, where the deceased is collected, transferred
to the crematory and cremated in a basic alternative container. The
cremated remains are returned to the family in a temporary plastic urn.
Additional services can be added to the basic package for an extra charge,
such as a ‘goodbye’ viewing, a casket and an upgraded urn. A basic
direct cremation in the Chicago area can be conducted for around $975.
Is embalming required
No, embalming is not required
by Illinois state law and a funeral home should never tell you it is.
A funeral director may recommend embalming if a funeral is not to be conducted
immediately, or a viewing or open-casket service is requested, but he must
first obtain permission before embalming.
This can save you hundreds,
if not thousands, of dollars. Do just ensure you are dealing with
a reputable casket seller.
What are my options for
purchasing a casket or alternative container?
According to Illinois state
law a casket is not required when a cremation is performed. A suitable
combustible container is all that is required. You have the right
by law to purchase a casket from elsewhere than the funeral home, in other
words, a third-party casket retailer. Traditionally funeral homes
made a huge mark-up on casket sales, sometimes marking them up as much
as 500%. The ‘funeral rule’ specifically prevents funeral homes cornering
this market. You have the right to buy a casket online, or from a
local casket seller, and have it delivered to the funeral home.
What are burial and cemetery
plot requirements in Illinois?
There is no law that states
that a grave liner is required in Illinois to house a casket within a cemetery
plot. Individual cemeteries have their own regulations that stipulate
what is required, and many will insist on a grave liner to protect the
plot (and surrounding plots) from subsidence. You should check carefully
on the cemetery regulations. You may also find that cemeteries will
have rules about what kind of grave marker can be erected and what period
of time you must wait following the burial. More importantly, carefully
check the clauses for the maintenance of the plot and grave marker.
It is important to make sure you are covered for any maintenance to your
headstone once erected.
Can I preplan a funeral
or cremation in Illinois, and how does state law govern preneed plans?
Yes, you can preplan your funeral
in Illinois. In many ways we would recommend this as it helps minimize
the difficult decision-making for family when a death occurs. In
Illinois, funerals can be pre-arranged by either a preneed contract through
a trust fund, a funeral insurance plan with an insurance policy, or an
annuity. All agents selling a preneed contract must be licensed.
There are different regulations depending upon which funding option is
selected, as to what refund on cancellation is payable.
These days one benefit of
preplanning a funeral through an agent is that the funds are not taken
into account if a person requires assistance from public funds if they
become ill and their life savings are spent on healthcare. The funds
invested in a funeral plan are safe, and at least funeral care is taken
It is also simple to consult
with a funeral home, establish your service requirements and costs, document
your wishes and deposit the amount required into a payable-on-death (POD)
account at the bank. This is also known as a Totten trust account.
You nominate a beneficiary who can draw out the funds immediately upon
your death, and the funds do not have to go into probate.
What are the laws for
scattering ashes in Illinois?
Put simply there is no federal,
state or municipal law that prevents the scattering of cremated remains.
However, due diligence must be observed if you chose to scatter your loved
ones ashes. State law refers to ashes being interred in a niche,
grave or columbarium, being kept in a container (cremation urn), which
you can keep at home. You can scatter on public land, but it is wise
to check if you choose state park lands, whether a permit is required.
You can scatter ashes on private land as long as you have permission of
Many residents of Illinois,
especially from Chicago, choose to scatter ashes over Lake Michigan in
an inland water burial dispersement ceremony. There seems to be no
specific laws preventing this and the only reference is to the Clean Water
Act by the Environmental Protection Agency. As cremated remains are not
considered a pollutant, there seems to be no specific legislation against
them being dispersed in the lake, so long as the ashes are dispersed into
the water, or a biodegradable urn/scattering tube is used. Make sure
any petals or flowers or wreaths that are used are also fully degradable
with no plastic or metal ties
Illinois is within Region
5 of the EPA and their main contact number is 312-353-2000.
allowance may be paid direct
to the funeral home to cover a very basic funeral. DFS Memorials
works with local, family-owned funeral homes in Illinois who guarantee
to offer the best priced cremation locally. Contact them to find
out who your nearest provider is.
What help is available
with funeral expenses in Illinois?
The recent economic downturn
has left many in hardship, and this can be so crippling if families are
then faced with a death and funeral expenses. There is the social
security payment of $255 that is payable to individuals if they qualify.
Other than that each county usually has some budget to help with funeral
expenses for the most needy, and you would need to contact your nearest
Human Services. In these cases a small
Are whole body donations
permitted in Illinois?
Yes, you can donate your body
to science in Illinois if that is your choice. There is an organization
named The Anatomical Gift Association of Illinois. It represents
all of the major universities and medical institutions in Illinois, and
is a not-for-profit corporation, you can contact them at:
1540 South Ashland Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60608
What do you do if your
loved one dies away from Illinois?
Sadly this happens more and
more often these days, as we become more of a transient population.
If your loved one has died oversees, or even in another state, and you
wish to have then transported home for a burial, you will need a mortuary
shipping professional. You can contact our funeral shipping expert
on 877-347-8086, or fill in the form on our Funeral
Where do I get a copy
of a death certificate from in Illinois?
Copies of a death certificate
can be obtained from the Illinois Department of Public Health Vital Records.
A certified copy of a death certificate costs $19.00, with each additional
copy charged at $4.00. You can order copies online, by mail, by fax
or in person. You can find out more here: http://www.idph.state.il.us/vitalrecords/deathorder.htm
What should you do if
you have a complaint about funeral services or products you have purchased?
If you have a complaint about
the services or products you have purchased from a funeral home or cremation
provider, you should try and resolve this with them in the first instance.
If you fail to do this, contact:
Controller's Office, State
Director of Cemetery Care
State of Illinois Center
100 Randolph Street West
Chicago, IL 60601
Or the Illinois Funeral Directors
Association at P.O. Box 7127, Springfield, IL 62791.
You can also contact the
Chicago Memorial Association at P.O. Box 2923, Chicago, IL 60690
(773) 327-4604. They are a not-for-profit organization dedicated
to assisting Illinoisans with funeral arrangements and are an affiliate
of the Funeral Consumers Alliance.
||Expert Author: Sara
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.
Homes in Chicago
Homes in Illinois
Last Revised: 10/30/2013