Questions and Answers…
Please think of this section as education. Education of your rights and options concerning the funeral is the consumer’s most powerful tool. Most people know too little about funerals and many times those people are susceptible to unscrupulous salespeople. Knowing answers to some of the following questions can be very helpful:
- I get calls all the time from cemeteries trying to sell me graves and funerals. They even tell me I have won free graves or discounts. What should I do?
A: Today there are few businesses that do not use telemarketing; cemeteries are no exception. It is important to remember that education is the best tool against bad decisions. Allowing a salesperson to come into your home to sell you something you know little about is an invitation for a bad investment. If you meet with any salesperson, take their information and then talk to your family and friends and even a competing business just to see if what you were told is true. Only do business with someone you trust.
- Why do funerals cost so much?
A: According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost of a traditional funeral without cemetery expenses and other cash advance items (such as flowers, newspapers, etc.) is $8,343. This figure includes an average casket cost of $2,395 and an outer burial container averaging $1,298. This is a lot of money. The Federal Trade Commission claims that after housing and vehicles, funerals are the largest expense people incur. A funeral home’s overhead and operating expenses include facilities, upkeep, utilities, vehicles, and personnel. We work very hard to keep our operating costs down, so that the cost of the funeral is fair to each family. There are a number of ways to reduce this average listed above by choosing arrangements that do not include so many expenses. Please remember, that a family does NOT get a better funeral if they spend more money. We give the same service no matter if a family chooses our most expensive or least expensive casket.
- Is prearranging my funeral a good idea?
A: Yes. This is one of the best decisions a person can make. I can list reasons such as prearranging makes things easier for those you leave behind; you get to make your own choices; you pay today’s funeral cost; and you will spend less on your own funeral than your children or spouse will if they are selecting for you. Prearranging one’s own funeral would be done by everybody if it were not such a hard thing to do. Let’s face it, who wants to pick their own casket?
There really are two ways to prearrange. The first is to just make the decisions and submit information, I call this Pre-information. The second is to actually finance the arrangements you select. The advantage to financing is that you receive a guarantee from the funeral home that the funeral arrangements you selected and paid for will never cost your family any more than the original investment and the interest it has earned. With financing there are several options, such as single payments, interest free financing, trust accounts and insurance. Each of these can be explained by simply contacting us at any time. Also, please remember that 100% of the money you use to finance the funeral is always yours and it cannot be touched without a death certificate (This is not always the case if the prearrangement was made by a cemetery or other corporation). So if anything ever happened to the funeral home you invested with, you would not lose your investment. More questions? Call.
- I have already prearranged my funeral with another funeral home. Am I locked into using that funeral home?
A: No. One of the advantages about prearranging your funeral that few people realize is that you still have freedom to choose a different funeral home. Many people move away after prearranging or choose to change for personal reasons and the process is very simple. All you have to do is contact the funeral home you would like to change your arrangements to and they will have you sign one or two forms, which completes the process. This process can be done at the time of need if necessary by the next of kin. This is a common procedure and one that we do often. If this is something that interests you, please feel free to contact us and we will do everything from there.
- My spouse wants to be cremated. What should I do?
A: This is becoming a more popular option each year. I often hear people say, “When I die, I’ve told my family to JUST cremate me.” It is important to realize that cremation is not a lesser option. Many people choose cremation for a variety of reasons. Most times when a family chooses cremation, they still have visitation and the cremated remains are later interred in a cemetery. The best answer for me to give to this question is for you to sit down with a licensed funeral director so that they may explain the many options involved with the choice of cremation.
- If I buy my casket from someone else, is there a risk?
A: It is illegal for any funeral home to not accept or to charge more to accept a casket purchased from an outside vendor. However, the Federal Trade Commission does allow a funeral home to offer package pricing of services that may be offered only if the merchandise is purchased from the funeral home. Pretty confusing isn’t it? What all of this says is that you need to be educated before making any purchases. Compare the price of caskets from several vendors before you sign the contract. There are many expenses involved in the whole cost of a funeral; the casket is just one of them. And while the casket was traditionally the main area of profit for the funeral director, that has now changed. With that in mind, the funeral home price of the casket should be the same or may even be less than many other vendors.
- What do I do with Social Security, pension, insurance and other paperwork?
A: This is a very important question. When you select a funeral home, the answer to this question should already be known. We make sure every family understands that part of the service we offer includes helping every family with this paperwork. Not only do we notify insurance companies, employers, and others, we also help the family fill out the claim forms after they have arrived. Many of these forms are very confusing, so it is our job to help. You also may have to make visits to the Social Security office, or to the AAA to help change car titles. The reason you should already know the answer to this question before choosing a funeral home is because this service before, during, and after the funeral is the most important thing to the surviving family.
- My spouse died out of state. What should I do?
A: Unfortunately this happens at times and it may make a horrible situation even worse. In most states, funeral homes operate a little differently. In many states which attract retirees during our winter months, the funeral homes often have two price structures. One price is for a family that requests their services and the other price is for the receiving funeral home. If a family is not having any services in the state where the death occurred, then it is best to contact the funeral home back home and let your funeral director make all of the necessary arrangements. The difference in cost could be quite significant.
- Does it cost more to have a funeral in the church instead of the funeral home?
A: First let me remind you that every funeral home has different pricing. However in our case, we do not charge any additional fees to have the funeral service in church. In fact, it is my opinion that if someone has been a faithful member of their church, it is only appropriate that their service is held somewhere with significant meaning in their life. The funeral home offers an alternative place for a funeral service if a family chooses.
- Are there any ways that I can personalize the funeral?
A: Yes. We offer many ways a family may pay tribute to certain aspects of a loved one’s life. Most of these options are at no additional cost. For example, we offer at no charge a video to be played during visitation that consists of family photos of your loved one. Also at no cost, we offer optional hardware on some caskets that display certain hobbies such as gardening, fishing, golfing, and other emblems representing religious, veteran, or fraternal organizations. There are a number of different options for casket lid panels or engraving on caskets including each branch of military service. Today more than ever, we are seeing an increase in families wishing to personalize the funeral.