|This guide to
arranging a funeral or cremation in Tennessee has been put together by
US Funerals Online to help you make the first steps when faced with the
task of funeral planning. Whether you are planning ahead, or have
an immediate need to make funeral arrangements, it can be daunting knowing
where to start. We have outlined here some of the basic things you
need to consider, and how Tennessee state governance and regulations affect
you as a consumer when purchasing funeral services and products.
The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) ‘funeral rule’ helps to protect your
rights as a consumer, but state laws do vary so much, and in many cases
override this rule. In this guide we have attempted to highlight
how these rules affect your choices in Tennessee.
How do you choose which
funeral home or cremation provider is right for your needs?
This is one of the first, and
most important aspects, of getting started with funeral planning.
You need to choose a funeral home, or a cremation provider, who can best
serve what your funeral requirements are. You need to ask yourself
a few questions to determine exactly what you are looking for, because
this will help determine what kind of funeral provider will best match
your needs. Different funeral homes can have different specialisms,
be it traditional burial, cremation services, green funerals, funeral alternatives
or affordable packages. So formulating a clear outline of your funeral
requirements will help you to focus on the services rendered by different
funeral companies and how they best fit your requirements. Another
aspect of choosing a funeral home is to decide on whether you want to employ
the services of a local, family-owned funeral establishment, or a corporate
funeral company. All funeral homes in Tennessee MUST be licensed
by the State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers.
How do I find a funeral
home or cremation provider in Tennessee?
There are numerous directories
that list funeral homes in Tennessee. US Funerals Online is a free
directory and funeral resource. Our directory is organized into state,
city and zip code order, making it exceptionally easy for you to find,
view and compare funeral homes and cremation providers in your area.
ALL funeral businesses are listed for free and included, unlike some directories
that only include funeral homes that have paid for inclusion.
can determine choice.
A cremation can work out much cheaper than a burial. And, of course,
the Church now accepts cremation. A traditional service can still
be performed when a cremation is chosen, and the deceased is cremated after
a service has taken place. Whether you decide on burial or cremation,
this should be a personal choice, or respecting the wishes of the deceased.
Do you want a burial or
Burial is by far still the preferred
choice for many in Tennessee, with the cremation rate still only at around
16%. Deciding upon which funeral home you wish to use, can be governed
in part by what type of disposition you require. Some funeral providers
in Tennessee may only offer cremation, such as cremation societies, and
some funeral homes are more able to support ‘home funeral’ options if you
wish to take more personal involvement with the care of the deceased.
Whilst burial is still the preferred choice for many Tennesseans, cremation
is gaining popularity, especially where cost considerations
What is the cost of a
funeral or cremation in Tennessee?
This is the question that brings
so many to US Funerals Online today. As price-savvy consumers, we
expect to be able to check and compare prices before we purchase goods
or services. A funeral purchase can often be one of the single highest-value
purchases you will make, and for that reason you really should ensure you
have checked that you are getting value for money. The reality is
that funeral prices can, and do, vary tremendously even in the same area.
Unlike many other ‘trade’ services, the funeral industry as a whole does
not always openly disclose their pricing. A funeral home is required
by law (FTC) to present you with a General Price List (GPL) when you make
any inquiries about funeral costs and their GPC should disclose their pricing
for all services and merchandise. However, many choose NOT to put
any prices on websites or other literature, making it difficult to easily
As a rough guide we would
gauge the basic cost of an immediate burial (that is a burial without any
services), or direct cremation at between $890 and $4,500. The immediate
burial cost does not include a casket, or any cemetery charges.
DFS Memorials - low cost
cremation providers for Tennessee
Chattanooga (855) 218-5473 - Direct
Knoxville (855) 218-5473 - Direct Cremations
Memphis (901) 207-8564 - Direct Cremations
Nashville (855) 218-5473 - Direct Cremations
Is embalming required
No, embalming is NOT required
by law in Tennessee and a funeral director should not tell you so.
However, a funeral home may have a policy that embalming is required if
the funeral is to be delayed and the deceased is to be stored at their
establishment. If you request a viewing or an open-casket service,
then the funeral director may recommend embalming. It is not required
by law, and if you do not wish your loved one to be embalmed you should
arrange for a timely burial or cremation.
What are my options for
purchasing a casket or alternative container?
Tennessee law for a burial or
cremation does not require a casket. A rigid combustible container
IS required for cremation. If you so choose, you may build your own
casket or you may purchase a casket from a third-party retailer.
Your funeral home must accept your casket, and cannot add a surcharge for
handling it. You can often save significantly if you shop around
What are burial and cemetery
plot requirements in Tennessee?
Tennessee state law does NOT
require a burial vault, however, many cemeteries have regulations that
stipulate a requirement for a burial vault. This is because they
wish to protect the gravesite from subsidence, and especially where machinery
is used to maintain the grounds. You will also find that cemeteries
have regulations about what type of monument you can erect, and a period
of time after burial, before a grave marker can be erected. In addition
to the price of a cemetery plot, the cemetery will charge an opening and
closing fee. If you consult with a funeral home or cemetery about
a burial, they must provide you with a Casket and Outer Burial Container
Price List before you make any selection.
Family burial plots are still
permitted in Tennessee, and protected if included in the property deeds.
Any private burial plots should be located at least 150 feet away from
a water supply and 25 feet from any power lines.
Can I preplan a funeral
or cremation? How does Tennessee state law govern preneed plans?
Yes, you can preplan a funeral
or a cremation in Tennessee. In many cases this can be good practice
to plan ahead and save surviving family the emotional and financial burden
of the decision-making. Preplanned funeral arrangements are often
called “preneed contracts”, and any agent selling a preneed contract must
have a certificate of registration. In Tennessee the funds are held
in trust accounts. Do make sure that you check the details of any
contract carefully for such things as what refund you would get on cancellation,
and if you can transfer the fund if you move area. You should check
that you have a “price guaranteed” contract, which ensures any substitutions
in your contract should be of equal quality. Whilst we believe preplanning
is a great idea, it cannot be ignored that the actual costs of funerals
could likely come down in cost as the industry is experiencing change and
a shift towards cremation. Also note that if you default on cemetery
plot merchandise for a period exceeding 12 months, the cemetery can keep
your money as liquidated damages.
Another way of preplanning
can be to document your wishes, investigate what the costs would be, and
lay away the funds to cover this in a payable-on-death (POD) account.
With this kind of account (also known as a Totten Trust) a beneficiary
is named who can withdraw the funds upon your death. This can make
funeral planning easier for surviving family and the required funds are
secure for when the need arises. Be sure to revisit and revise your
plans and the costs from time-to-time.
Investing funds in an irrevocable
preneed account can protect these funds should you later fall subject to
Medicaid eligibility. There is a $6000 limit to the amount you can
have in a preneed funeral plan.
site of scattering, and you
should only use biodegradable materials for any ceremony. You may
also scatter over inland water. Tennessee is in Region 4 of the Environmental
Protection Agency who governs the Clean Water Act and the region contact
number is (404) 562-9900. So long as you only use biodegradable materials,
there is no reason why you cannot disperse the ashes of your loved one
into the inland waters of Tennessee.
What are the laws for
scattering ashes in Tennessee?
According to the provisions
in state law, cremated remains can be kept at home, buried in a cemetery
or memorial garden, mausoleum or niche. Remains can also be buried
or scattered on private land (with the permission of the landowner).
Cremated remains are organic and sterile and therefore pose no issue to
the environment. If you wish to scatter remains in a rural public
land, there are no laws preventing this. As far as scattering in
state parks goes, the general guidance is that you can go ahead so long
as it does not interfere with any state park activities. The state
parks will not allow any form of marker or shrine to be placed at the
What help is available
with funeral expenses in Tennessee?
Unfortunately, more and more
people are struggling to meet the costs of funeral expenses these days.
There is limited assistance available and you have some options to explore.
If you are on welfare or low income and considered ‘needy’, the indigent
burial or cremation program may help pay for your funeral expenses.
You must earn under the federal poverty income guidelines to qualify.
You make an application through your local Social Services. There is also
a list of funeral and cremation establishments that work with the burial
assistance program online at Tennessee Statewide 2-1-1 Resource Network.
A veteran, or veteran’s spouse
may be entitled to burial benefits through the VA, and you can read more
about this on our Veteran’s Funerals page The VA cemeteries in Knoxville,
Madison and Memphis only have space remaining for cremated remains.
There are also 4 state-run veteran’s cemeteries where there is a $700 charge
for burial of a non-veteran spouse. You may also find that there
are a number of church and charity organizations at county level that will
provide assistance and support you with meeting burial expenses.
program and guarantee to return
cremated remains to the family in 3 – 4 weeks at no cost to the family.
Are whole body donations
permitted in Tennessee?
Yes, you may donate your body
to science as an end-of-life option in Tennessee. This option can
present a minimal cost means of disposition. However, do be aware
that not all donors are accepted at the time of death, there are weight
limitations on donations, and you may not get the cremated remains returned
for some time. The University of Tennessee has an anatomical bequest
program. US Funerals Online is affiliated with Biogift who operate
a nationwide donation
What do you do if your
loved one dies away from Tennessee?
If a loved one should pass away
whilst out-of-state or overseas, you will need the services of a funeral
home versant with funeral shipping. The deceased can be air or land
freighted back to Tennessee for burial. There are certain processes
and paperwork that needs to be completed at both ends. Alternatively,
the deceased can be cremated at the place of death and the cremated remains
shipped back to Tennessee. Shipping a body can work out expensive,
so be sure to fully check out the costs before making a decision.
You can find out more about funeral shipping and contact a mortuary
shipping adviser from our ‘death away from home’ section.
Where do I get a copy
of a death certificate from in Tennessee?
You can obtain a certified copy
of a death certificate from the Tennessee Office of Vital Records (OVR).
You can order a copy online or by post, or you can call in person to:
1st Floor, Central Services
Building, 421 5th Avenue, North Nashville, TN 37243. Most county
health departments can also issue certificates for deaths that occurred
within their jurisdiction. The first copy of a death certificate
is $7.00 and additional copies are $15.00.
What should you do if
you have a complaint about funeral services or products you have purchased?
If you have a complaint or grievance
about services or merchandise you have purchased from a licensed funeral
establishment or cemetery in Tennessee, you should try and resolve it with
the funeral director in the first instance. If you cannot resolve
the complaint this way, you can make a written grievance to :
Board of Funeral Directors
and Embalmers & Burial Services Section
Davy Crockett Tower
500 James Robertson Pkwy.
Nashville, TN 37243
There are also 2 funeral
consumer alliance groups in Tennessee that may be able to suuprot you with
any queries concerning funeral purchases:
Funeral Consumers Alliance
of East Tennessee (FCAET), P.O. Box 10507, Knoxville, TN 37939
Funeral Consumers Alliance
of Mid-South, P.O. Box 770388, Memphis, TN 38177
||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.
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