What to Consider when Arranging
a Funeral or Cremation in West Virginia.
Making arrangements for a funeral
or cremation is not always an easy task. There are countless decisions
to be made, and this can seem overwhelming, especially if little preplanning
was undertaken. This guide has been designed to assist you through
the process of arranging a funeral in West Virginia, with particular reference
to state funeral laws that affect funeral-planning in WV.
family or friends, and this
is a very good way to get information. However, if you are not in
a position to benefit from a sound referral, or you are seeking something
specific, you may have to resort to contacting funeral homes yourself.
Usually people look for a reputable funeral business in their own area,
but it is always advisable to check with more than one funeral home and
compare services and prices for a funeral or cremation.
Choosing a funeral home in West
One of the first things you
will need to do, especially if a death has just occurred, is select a funeral
home. There are in the region of 300 funeral homes and mortuaries
in West Virginia so you need to consider what criteria can help you select
the right funeral home for your needs. Deciding whether you need
a burial or cremation, what budget you have, and what kind of memorial
services (if any) you require, can all help you define a better idea of
what funeral services provider can best serve your needs.
Many people seek recommendations
or referrals from
What does an average funeral
cost in West Virginia?
The average cost of a funeral
in the U.S. is $7,045 (according to the NFDA - National Association of
Funeral Directors 2012), but this does not include any cemetery fees.
The cost for a traditional burial is largely dependent on the type of casket
you select and the final cost of your cemetery plot and grave marker.
Basic funeral director’s services for an economical traditional burial
can be found for around $4,995 in West Virginia.
All funeral homes in the
West Virginia area must have a general price list (GPL) that outlines their
service charges and funeral merchandise prices. They must provide
a copy of their GPL when they quote you a price according to the Federal
Trade Commission’s ‘The Funeral Rule’.
A direct cremation can be arranged
in West Virginia for $1,125 complete. This is the least expensive
cremation option for families. A direct cremation means that there
are no services, the cremation goes ahead once all the documentation has
been completed and then the cremated remains are returned to the family
in a temporary container. Incremental options, such as a private
family viewing or an upgraded cremation urn, can be added to a basic direct
cremation package for an additional fee.
How much does a cremation cost
in West Virginia?
A typical cremation funeral
service will cost in the region of $3,900 (depending upon the ancillary
services/products you select). This is the type of cremation service
that replaces a full traditional funeral; however, it is possible to arrange
a cremation for considerably less than this.
Arranging a direct cremation
in West Virginia
How do I decide between a burial
or a cremation?
The decision between choosing
a burial or cremation is very much a personal choice. The deceased
may have left explicit wishes or surviving family may have to make a decision.
Faith and/or funds for the funeral service can play a significant role
in whether a burial or cremation is chosen. Having a pre-existing
cemetery plot can be an important aspect as burial plots can be quite expensive
to purchase these days. Cremation is certainly on the increase in
the United States, and is becoming a popular funeral alternative for many
now. Green burials are also another option that can be considered.
If you are unsure whether
to choose between burial or cremation, talk to family and friends, and
discuss the decision with your funeral director. Just be aware that
a funeral director is running a business.
Laws governing cremation in
There are laws that govern the
process of cremation to ensure it is conducted safely and in line with
proper, respectful procedures. A body can only be cremated if the
legal next of kin has signed a ‘Cremation Authorization Form’. This
form can be signed and self-authorized if you are preplanning a cremation.
There is a mandatory legal waiting period in many states but in West Virginia
a cremation can proceed once the cremation permit has been obtained from
the Chief Medical Examiner.
The cremated remains should
be returned to the family within 35 days of the crematory receiving the
remains (unless specified differently in a funeral contract).
Does the deceased have to be
There is no legal requirement,
or WV state law, stipulating that you have to have the deceased embalmed.
However, some funeral homes may adopt policies that insist upon embalming
if a public viewing or service is being held with the deceased in repose.
If you proceed with a timely funeral, there is really no need for embalming
(and it can just be another fee to add to your funeral costs!)
Conducting a Memorial Service
Many families are choosing to
conduct their own memorial services these days, especially with the increase
in direct cremation and the quick and efficient means of dealing with the
immediate disposition of the body. A family can not only save money
by arranging and conducting their own memorial service, but it can also
prove to be a much more personalized service. A memorial service
typically proceeds without the deceased’s body present, although sometimes
the cremation urn can be present. Life celebration style memorial
services are gaining popularity today and can be hosted at all kind of
venues rather than at a funeral home or chapel.
What can you do with the cremated
remains in West Virginia?
There is no state law that determines
where you can keep or scatter cremated remains in West Virginia.
Generally ashes are stored in a cremation urn, which can be kept at home
or interred in an existing grave plot or a niche. If you choose to
scatter the cremated remains, you can disperse them in a designated scattering
garden or on private or public land. You will need the permission
of the land-owner to scatter on private land, and you should check if there
are any zoning restrictions for any public area you wish to scatter on.
Cremated remains are non-toxic,
organic matter and therefore pose no threat to the environment. Just
ensure you adopt safe dispersal techniques as outlined in our Ash
Purchasing a casket or grave
marker in West Virginia
You can save on your overall
funeral costs by purchasing funeral merchandise from elsewhere than your
funeral home. You can purchase a casket or a grave marker from a
third-party seller and your funeral home must accept it, and cannot charge
you a handling fee (FTC rule). We have comprehensive guides to buying
a casket or grave marker, so I would recommend you visit these sections
for more detailed information.
Can I pre-plan a funeral in
Yes, you certainly can, and
this is becoming a preferred choice for many families in West Virginia
now. Pre-planning your funeral alleviates family of both the difficult
decisions and the financial burden of funeral expenses. You can make
pre-need funeral arrangements direct with a funeral home or purchase burial
What you DO need to consider
is that funeral prices could indeed be coming down. Funeral companies
promote preplanning on the basis that it “locks into today’s prices”, but
with the cremation trend increasing, and more funeral homes competing for
the ‘affordable’ funeral market – the reality is that the funeral costs
are not as ‘fixed’ as they once were.
Another funeral planning
alternative is to document your wishes and put aside the appropriate funds
in a POD Payable on Death account or a Totten Trust. This enables
family to access the funds at the time of need and make the funeral arrangements,
but you keep in control of your monies and any accrued interest.
Read more in our article ‘What
is my best and safest option for putting aside money for a funeral’.
Can I donate my body to science
in West Virginia?
Yes, donating your body to science
can be a great way to facilitate your end-of-life needs and, apart from
being a gift to society, can also mean that you do not have any funeral
expenses. Most of the national organizations that deal with full
body donation handle everything from the moment you notify them of the
death, including collecting the body, the donation, the free cremation
and the return of the cremated remains to the family a few weeks later.
Many more people in West Virginia are choosing body donation now, and once
they have had the cremated remains returned to them at no-cost, they then
arrange their own memorial service for the family. Check out our
How can I transport a loved
one either back to, or from, West Virginia after death?
If a loved one needs to be transported
back to a state or country of origin following their death in West Virginia,
you will need the services of a funeral director who can arrange funeral
shipping for you. This generally needs a funeral professional who
can coordinate arrangements at the place of death and wherever the body
is being shipped to.
If transporting a loved one
between states in the United States you have the option of flying the body,
or transporting the body by land. Certain regulations do apply on
moving a body, and it is likely that embalming will be required as well
as specific containers to hold the casket. Shipping a body can be
quite expensive, so the other alternative you have is to have the body
cremated at the place of death, and then transport back the cremated remains.
Visit our section on Funeral
Shipping to read more.
How to get a death certificate
in West Virginia
In West Virginia a death certificate
must be filed within 5 days of the death and before the final disposition
of the body takes place. (West Virginia Code § 16-5-19.) The
funeral director will generally arrange this for you. If you need
additional certified copies of the death certificate these can be obtained
from the West Virginia Health Statistics Center. Each certified copy
costs $12.00, and can be obtained in person, by mail, online or by phone.
Who should I contact if I have
a complaint about a funeral home in West Virginia?
Hopefully you will find the
services of your funeral home more than adequate, as most funeral professionals
are very dedicated in their vocation. Unfortunately though, it does
sometimes happen that you may have a complaint or grievance with a funeral
home and you do not manage to resolve it directly with the funeral director.
In this case you should make your complaint in writing to the West Virginia’s
Board of Funeral Service Examiners who regulates and licenses funeral businesses:
179 Summers Street, Suite 305, Charleston, West Virginia, 25301 Phone:
I hope this guide has helped
to answer some of your immediate questions. Please check out our
section for our full catalogue of resources to help you through the process
of arranging a funeral. Feel free to contact us if we can be of any
assistance with any further questions you may have.
||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 West Virginia
Cost Funeral & Cremation Provider in West Virginia