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Funeral Planning Questions and Answers

Posted by komputroniks on February 28, 2016 at 11:35 AM Comments comments (0)

Why should I write down instructions about my funeral plans? My family knows what I want!

 

You may be surprised at what your family knows, or more likely doesn't know, about your funeral wishes. Furthermore, it can be a very emotional decision to make if you leave it to your family, which can cause tremendous problems between family members with different views. Save your family the grief of having to make these decisions for you, and put your wishes in writing.

 

A second major reason for setting your wishes down in writing is cost. Planning ahead of time to secure funeral services is often far less expensive than arrangements made after a person's death.

 

What happens if I don't leave written instructions for my funeral?

 

If you don't write down your funeral wishes, state law will determine who gets to make the decision for you. This alone can cause a lot of unnecessary grief, but here is the typical order that most states will follow:

 

Spouse

Children

Parents

Next of kin


Public administrator designated by a court

To many, this may seem like the right order, so why bother to write it down? Consider what happens if you have more than one child, your spouse predeceases you, and the children don't agree. The dispute will likely go to court and cause serious discord within the family. Never rely on the state designating the right people; set your wishes down in writing and take the burden off of your family.

 

Shouldn't I put my funeral wishes in my will?

 

No. Your will often won't be read or accessible until several weeks, sometimes months, after your death. Wills should never be used to express desires and decisions that need to be dealt with soon after your death. Wills are more properly used for things like property distribution that can wait and aren't time sensitive.

 

If not my will, where should I leave my written funeral instructions?

 

The most common place people leave their funeral instructions is with the executor of their estate and/or their attorney, with a copy sent to loved ones. It is crucial that even if you leave the official copies with an executor or attorney that you inform your loved ones to reduce the chances of a dispute arising if a loved one is sure you wanted something different. If your plans change over time, be sure to update those same people immediately.


Another option that many people choose is Funeral Societies. The services offered by each society differ, but these societies offer valuable information on reputable funeral homes, explanation of legal rules and advice on how to make final arrangements. Generally, the society will let you predetermine what services you want at a set price, and the Society can also help you archive your funeral wishes. This allows you to be certain about how much your funeral will cost well in advance and plan accordingly.

 

What should I write in my funeral plan?

 

Most people's funeral plans are guided by their ethnic, religious and cultural affiliations, but here are some ideas to consider when writing down your funeral plan:

 

Whether you wish to be cremated, buried and/or embalmed

The facility where you wish to be buried or cremated

The type of container you wish to be buried or cremated in

How your remains will be transported to the facility you select

Whether you wish to have any ceremony accompany your funeral

The details of any such ceremony

Whether you wish any pallbearers and who they will be

Whether you wish any sort of marker, such as a tombstone

What services are available from a mortuary?

 

Mortuaries and funeral homes typically handle almost all the details involving the disposal of a person's remains, such as:

 

Retrieving and transporting the body from the place of death to the facility

Storing the body

Preparing the body for the funeral

Making any necessary funeral arrangements

Conducting the funeral ceremony


 


Funeral Costs Statistics according to the NFDA

Posted by komputroniks on October 17, 2014 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (0)

One of the leading sources for good, factual funeral information is the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), which is the world’s leading funeral service association at almost 20,000 members nationwide.

 

Although most individuals going through the funeral planning process aren’t likely to need the NFDA to help them make decisions, the organization does have an impact on what choices you have. By overseeing the body of funeral home directors and providing a basic core of ethics that they must follow, consumers are the ones who benefit.

 

The NFDA recently released a 2010 report on funeral costs. According to their findings, the national median cost of a funeral is $6,560, taking into account costs associated with different locations as well as with the quality of materials purchased for the funeral. This figure includes:

 

Funeral home basic service fees

Send Funeral Flowers today

 

• Body transportation

• Body preparation (embalming and other services)

• Casket

• Viewing service

• Funeral ceremony

• Hearse transportation

• Printed materials

 

What this figure does not include:

 

• Burial vault or grave liner

• Cemetery plot

• Monument or headstone

• Flowers

• Obituary

 

The study goes on to discuss how these costs compare to funeral plans ten, twenty, and even thirty years ago. For example, the changes in funeral costs between 2000 and 2009 was a 21 percent increase. In previous decades, the changes ranged from 25 percent to an overwhelming 47 percent increase.

 

So What do These Numbers Mean?

 

To the average consumer, the report and its statistics don’t mean much, except that you can expect funeral costs to continue rising. Much of this is due to natural inflation, but there are also considerations of the non-renewable resources that go into planning a funeral. Caskets made of metal,

large burial vaults, and burial plots are all going to continue getting more expensive, since (like gasoline) there is only so much of these items available on Earth.

 

These statistics can also help you to start pre-planning your own funeral today. By locking in rates on a grave site or other funeral costs, you can avoid inflation while ensuring that all your wishes are being met. You can also start researching alternate burial options to determine what fits best in your life and your budget. Cremation, green funerals, and even body donations can all defray costs while still letting you personalize your final moments.

 

For more information on the National Funeral Directors Association, you can visit them on the web at http://www.nfda.org/. The website offers great resources for consumer rights when it comes to funeral planning, and you can find more facts and statistics about the industry.

Pre-Plan your Funeral online

Posted by komputroniks on February 28, 2014 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (4)

Pre-Plan a Funeral Online

If the idea of calling funeral homes and meeting with estate planners to make advance funeral arrangements isn’t one you cherish, you may be able to find online options to save you time and money. Although unheard of just a few years ago, online funeral planning is now a viable option that allows you to plan and even pay for your funeral from the comfort of your own home.

 How Online Funeral Planning Works

 There are two ways you can pre-plan a funeral online. The first option requires nothing more from you than to make decisions regarding your wishes. For example, you can:

Print out a funeral planning worksheet, which you can then fill out regarding your specific wishes.

Find a funeral planning app or other online option that allows you to make decisions and email your answers to family members.

Coordinate funeral pre-plan options with a specific funeral home, which will use the information provided to contact you at a later date.

 If you’re hesitant to put any money down and are merely exploring your options, these are a great way to being the funeral planning process.

 However, if you’d like to make more concrete plans (up to and including purchasing an entire burial or cremation package), you have alternate options. You can:

  • Contact a FREE Service like Legacy Safeguard which allows you Plan yout funeral online with your final wishes.You can speak with one of our Insurance Agents    in your area that offers funeral insurance, burial insurance, or other financial planning options.

            Our Main nuber is 844-655-0955

  • Buy a casket, urn, or other funeral item and have it shipped to your home for future use.

 In these instances, it’s very important that you only make financial arrangements or purchase funeral plans from a company that is reputable and that you’ve looked into first. Because there are funeral scams out there (and because the anonymity of the internet makes it an easy platform for taking advantage of people), you should only hand over personal information or money to a company you know is trusted.

 

When Online Funeral Planning Isn’t Enough

 

While pre-planning a funeral online is a great way to get your financial arrangements in order, it isn’t a comprehensive solution. There is no alternative for sitting down with your family and outlining your wishes, or in visiting a funeral home and seeing for yourself what all your options regarding advance funeral planning are.

 

Use the internet as a way to gather information, to research your options, and even to find area providers. Make purchases once you’re sure it’s a valid company. And print out your plans so that there is a written record somewhere your family can access it. The age of the internet makes funeral planning easier than ever before, as long as you’re willing to use it!

 

 

Why We Need to Talk About Death and Dying

Posted by komputroniks on May 21, 2013 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (1)

Both individually and collectively, we are paying an enormous emotional and financial price for being silenced by our society's taboo against talking about death and dying. Other societies educate their members about the reality of death and the processes of dying and grieving. We do not. We are left to figure it out for ourselves, relying on doctors and funeral directors to tell us what to do once we are face to face with death. We don't know what to say, what to do, how to cope or to grieve. Most of us simply let "the experts" lead us around by the nose -- too stunned to take charge of the situation ourselves.

 

Consider the following observations and facts about the costs we bear for this:

 

(1) Eighty percent of Americans do not put their personal affairs in order before they die.

 

(2) In 2009, Medicare paid 55 billion just for doctor and hospital bills for the last two months of patients' lives. That's more than the budget for the Department of Homeland Security or the Department of Education. And, it's been estimated that 20-30 percent of these medical expenses may have had no meaningful impact. Most of the bills are paid for by the Federal Government with few or no questions asked. ("The Cost of Dying," 60 Minutes, 8/8/10

 

(2) Many doctors view their inability to "cure" a patient as a professional failure and are therefore reluctant to suggest palliative care even when they know there is little to no hope of recovery. Largely as a result, the average stay in Hospice care is just two weeks.

 

(3) Most hospital patients, relying on doctors to advise them of their healthcare options, fail to take into consideration the vested interests of the doctors and hospitals. As a result, many terminal patients are given false hope by a frenzy of tests and procedures that do little more than protect the doctors and hospitals against potential lawsuits and provide financial benefit to the doctors, hospitals, insurance and drug companies while denying the patient the opportunity to transition into his or her process of dying.

 

(4) A vast majority of Americans say they want to die at home, but 75 percent die in a hospital or nursing home...18-20 percent of Americans spend their last days in an ICU. (("The Cost of Dying," 60 Minutes, 8/8/10)

 

(5) Most of us have no idea how to discuss the reality of death with our loved ones and are thereby denied the opportunity to share our thoughts, feelings and fears with each other. As a result, many terminally-ill patients put a smile on their faces and silently suffer in emotional isolation.

 

(6) The average funeral in the U.S., including a cemetery plot and grave, costs between $10,000 and $12,000. Only about 5 percent of Americans preplan their end of life rituals. The rest leave it to their loved ones to figure out while grieving their loss. Bereft family members rely on funeral directors to tell them what to do. Left to second guess what would have been meaningful to the deceased, loved ones typically overspend for fear of not doing enough. Most of us are not even aware of the many less costly and, in many cases, more emotionally gratifying alternatives that are available for saying our final goodbyes.

 

(7) Legal fees for a simple will are several hundred dollars. The legal fees associated with finalizing an estate where there is no will or a poorly written will run thousands.

 

(8) While we silently suffer with each other, the medical, accounting and legal estate planning industries are booming at our expense.

 

For those who agree with me that we need to make some fundamental changes, I'd like to suggest that we begin by breaking through the taboo against talking about death in this country. A good place to start is to explore our own thoughts, feelings and experiences. Taking ownership of our own point of view empowers us to more fully participate in making meaningful decisions on our own behalf and that of those we love. The alternative is to continue to live in denial, fear, silence and paralysis.

 

I invite you to consider the following questions. You might want to find a quiet place and write your responses:

 

1. Which of the following best defines how and what you think/believe happens when we die? (More than one might apply).

 

We simply stop being - going out like a fire. Our physical body dies and that is all we are.

We are spiritual beings having human experiences and at death our body dies, but our spirit or soul lives on.

We only live this one life.

Our souls reincarnate, taking on different physical identities to work off karmic

imbalances accrued from this life and previous lives.

We go to heaven, hell or purgatory.

Other. Please elaborate.

 

2. Did anyone educate you about death? If so, who was it and what did you learn?

 

3. Have you experienced the death of a loved one? If so, what was that like for you? How did it change you?

 

4. do you think and how do you feel about your own death?

 

By breaking the silence within ourselves on this topic, we set the foundation for making decisions that are in alignment with our deepest beliefs and values about life and death. It is in claiming these values and beliefs that we are best able to meet our death on our own terms - with greater self-determination about such things as our end of life healthcare, the disposition of our belongings and the kind of end of life ritual that would be appropriate for us. It also supports us in coping with the death of our loved ones.

 

10 Important facts about Veteran Burial Benefits

Posted by komputroniks on April 15, 2013 at 1:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Have you ever spoken to a Veteran regarding Burial and Funeral,and he says: " I got everything covered.I am a veteran" . Maybe this is the case with you or someone you know. The reason why is that many veterans may not fully understand the benefits to which they’re entitled. As Funeral Planning Specialists,We feel we have  the responsibility of helping veterans receive the benefits they deserve. For that reason, we’ve compiled this list of 10 Important Facts About Your VA Burial Benefits as a guide


 

 Fact 1 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits do not cover all the funeral or cremation arrangements of honorably discharged veterans.

There are certain monetary, recognition and service benefits that may be available. However, reimbursement for funeral or cremation service expenses is limited, and usually only applies to veterans who:Retire from the Armed Services, or Were disabled due to a service-related injury, orDied in a VA hospital or while in a nursing home under VA contractStandard guidelines are provided as an overview, but only the VA can rule on your exact benefits

 Fact 2 You will need documentation to verify military service.

  A “Report of Separation from the Armed Forces of the United States,” also known as “discharge papers,” is normally required to verify military service. In most cases, this report is the DD 214.

   Fact 3 A veteran’s family must request a United States flag.

 A flag is provided at no cost to drape the casket or accompany the urn of a deceased veteran. Generally, the flag is given to the next of kin. Only one flag may be provided per veteran. Upon the request of the family, an “Application for United States Flag for Burial Purposes” (VA Form 21-200 must be submitted along with a copy of the veteran’s discharge papers. Flags may be obtained from VA regional offices and most U.S. Post Offices..

 Fact 4 Military Funeral Honors ceremonies must be scheduled in advance.

 The law requires that every eligible veteran receive a military funeral honors ceremony, which includes the folding and presentation of the United States flag and the playing of “taps,” upon the family’s request.This Department of Defense program calls for the funeral director to request military funeral honors on behalf of the veteran’s family.

 Fact 5 Veterans’ caskets are not free.

  As a standard policy, neither the VA nor the various branches of service provide a free casket for a deceased veteran, unless death occurs while on active duty.It is a good idea to be a member of a funeral Society in your area so you can get help with caskets at discounted prices, if possible.

 Fact 6 A “Presidential Memorial Certificate” must be requested.

  Initiated in March 1962 by President John F. Kennedy, a “Presidential Memorial Certificate” is an engraved paper certificate, signed by the current President, to honor the memory of honorably discharged, deceased veterans.Eligible recipients, or someone acting on their behalf, may apply in person at any VA regional office or by U.S. mail.

 Fact 7 If you choose not to be buried in a VA national cemetery, monetary burial benefits are limited.

  Veterans buried in a private cemetery may be eligible to receive a partial reimbursement for their burial costs. For non-service related deaths, a burial expense allowance (up to $300) and a plot allowance (up to $300) may be given. In order to receive a VA burial allowance you must meet the following conditions:

Payment for the veteran’s burial was made without any reimbursement from a government agency or other source, and Were disabled due to a service-related injury, orIn addition, at least one of the following conditions must be met:

The veteran died because of service-related disability, orThe veteran was receiving VA pension or compensation, orThe veteran died in a VA hospital or nursing home under VA contract.In order to determine the final reimbursement amount, an “Application for Burial Benefits” (VA Form 21-530) must be submitted within two years from the date of the veteran’s permanent burial.

 Fact 8 There are eligibility requirements for burial in a VA national cemetery.

 Any member of the Armed Forces of the United States who dies while on active duty or any veteran who was discharged under conditions other than dishonorable is entitled to burial in a VA national cemetery. Under certain conditions, the unremarried surviving spouse and minor children of an eligible person are also entitled to this benefit.

 Burial in a VA national cemetery includes:

An assigned gravesite (if space if available) Opening and closing of the graveA grave liner for casketed remainsA government headstone or markerPerpetual care at no cost to the familyCremated remains are buried or inurned in VA national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains.It is important to note that you may not reserve space in a VA national cemetery ahead of time, since VA national cemeteries only allow arrangements to be made at the time of a death. Therefore, if you do not choose burial in a private cemetery, there is no guarantee that spouses or other family members will be buried side by side, or even nearby. Additionally, you should note that burials in VA national cemeteries usually are not conducted on weekends and, depending on the VA cemetery, there may be a waiting period before burial can occur.Additionally, you should note that burials in VA national cemeteries usually are not conducted on weekends, and depending on the VA cemetery, there may be a waiting period before burial can occur.

 Fact 9 Headstones or markers for a burial space in a private cemetery must be requested.

  The VA, upon request and at no charge to the applicant, will furnish a government headstone or marker for the grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world. Upright headstones are available in granite and marble, and flat markers are available in granite, marble and bronze. The style must be consistent with existing monuments or markers at the place of burial. Niche markers for cremated remains are also available.An “Application for Standard Government Headstone or Marker for Installation in a Private or State Veteran’s Cemetery” (VA Form 40-1330) must be submitted.

  Fact 10 The issuance or replacement of military service medals, awards and decorations must be requested in writing.

 Military service medals, awards and decorations are available from the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC). Family members may request medals and awards for living veterans only if they have obtained their signed authorization. For deceased veterans, requests will be accepted from the next-of-kin.Requests should be submitted in writing to the appropriate military service branch division of the NPRC. Standard form (SF 180), available through the VA, is recommended to submit your request. Generally, there is no charge for medal or award replacements. For more information, or for the mailing address of the military branch office to submit your request to, call 1-86-NARA-NARA (1-866-272-6272) or visit the NPRC website at www.archives.gov.

 

How to read a Funeral Home General Price List

Posted by komputroniks on April 1, 2013 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (0)

The funeral home's General Price List (GPL) is one of the most important tools you have for controlling and understanding funeral costs. The GPL lists (or should list) all the goods and services the funeral home offers, along with the price of each. Like a menu in a restaurant, the GPL allows you to select only those items you want, and it tells how much each will cost.


   The Federal Trade Commission's Funeral Rule compels funeral homes to give customers a GPL at the beginning of any discussion of arrangements. The funeral director must give you a copy to keep, and it's a good idea to ask the director to leave the room so you can contemplate the GPL in private. Better yet, take it home and discuss it with your family, if time permits, so you can make an informed decision.

  A Brief History of the GPL

  In what Jessica Mitford called "the bad old days" before The Federal Trade Commission's Funeral Rule went into effect in 1984, funeral prices were shrouded in secrecy. Funeral directors seldom discussed their prices openly, and consumers had little choice but to buy everything that was offered - the cost of the casket determined the cost of the funeral. Embalming, viewing, a funeral ceremony, a graveside service, hearse and limousines were frequently "bundled" into the price of each casket. If the customer decided to forego any of these services, the bill wouldn't necessarily shrink.

The Funeral Rule, developed in response to consumer pressure after ten years of research and hearings by the FTC, took away some of the disadvantages consumers face when they purchase funeral goods and services. FTC regulations mandate that funeral homes "unbundle" their prices and allow customers to buy only those things they choose (except for the non-declinable "basic services fee" discussed below). While funeral homes are allowed to offer packages of services at a discount over the itemized total, they must also offer services priced individually.

 Required items on the GPL

 GPLs must print certain disclosures, which must follow the wording approved by the FTC. The disclosures must state that:

Consumers may select only the goods and services desired Embalming is not required by law except in certain special cases A "basic services fee" will be added to any items purchased "Alternative containers," such as those made of cardboard, are available for direct cremation A Casket Price List is available An Outer Burial Container (vault) Price List is available The Funeral Rule requires that GPLs list the prices of 16 items - if they are services the funeral home offers - including the basic services fee, embalming charge, cost of picking up the body, the price of a viewing, the price of a funeral or memorial service, the cost of funeral vehicles, and other commonly offered goods and services.

  How to Interpret the GPL

These choices can seem daunting to people who are making funeral arrangements at any time, but this is especially true if they have just experienced a death in the family. Worse, many funeral homes now devote the first several pages of their price lists to funeral packages, leaving the itemized list for the last page. This practice can discourage consumers from "shopping," because it wears them out long before they reach the itemized list.

One gentleman from Washington, D.C., called the FCA office and said he bought a $14,000 funeral for his father from a corporately owned mortuary. "I assumed that was a low-end funeral," he said, "because it was the least expensive one they had."

The GPL this man was reading buried the itemized services behind 11 pages of package deals - he didn't even know he had the option to decline some services.

Buying a "package deal" may offer savings over the price of each separate item, but it's a bargain only if you would have chosen all the items anyway.

The simplest options - direct cremation and immediate burial - include pickup of the body, the basic services fee, the filing of death certificates, and transportation to the crematory or cemetery. For cremation, remember to ask if the price includes the crematory fee - some funeral homes don't include that fee in their price and the family is surprised when it appears on the final statement. For immediate burial, costs for interment (usually charged by the cemetery) and a graveside service are extra. The cost of the casket for immediate burial is also extra unless the funeral home offers an immediate burial option that includes a particular casket.

Anyone who wants more elaborate services will have to start with the basic services fee. This is the only fee on a funeral home's price list that the customer cannot decline to pay. It was originally intended to cover services that were common to most arrangements - filing death certificates and obtaining copies for the family; coordinating plans with the cemetery and crematory; and filing for Social Security, veterans, and insurance benefits. This fee may also include overhead costs and charges for the arrangements conference, securing permits, preparing notices, and coordinating arrangements with third parties (such as the cemetery).

Many funeral homes have abused this fee by inflating it to several thousand dollars. Because the customer can't say no to the fee, it can be raised at any time by the funeral director to increase profits. Most other goods and services are sold by funeral homes at prices that already include profitable markups. The national average for the basic services fee is around $1,200, but it may be less than $400 at some funeral homes.

Aside from the basic services fee, you can choose freely. For example, you might want to schedule a funeral ceremony, but skip the viewing and embalming. If you want a service that is not listed on the GPL, be sure to ask. Many funeral directors are glad to accommodate your wishes. For example, you might choose to have a private family viewing without embalming. Many funeral homes don't charge for this. Or there may be a lesser charge if a brief family viewing is held on the same day and immediately before the funeral. A note on embalming - Embalming is one of the most misunderstood aspects of funerals. While the FTC prohibits funeral homes from misrepresenting laws in order to coerce customers to choose embalming, the FTC requires the following embalming disclosure on all GPLs: "Except in certain special cases, embalming is not required by law. Embalming may be necessary if you select certain funeral arrangements, such as a funeral with viewing ..." The phrase "may be necessary" allows funeral homes to require embalming for public viewing. Most funeral directors do require it for public viewing because they believe many people would be offended or shocked if confronted with an unembalmed body on public display.

 Violations to Watch for

 The national office of Funeral Consumers Alliance has received and "graded" thousands of GPLs over the years. Unfortunately, compliance is still spotty two decades after the Funeral Rule was enacted. Based on FCA's experience, at least 50 percent don't comply with the FTC rules. Some of the violations are minor; others are egregious. GPLs that are seriously out of compliance could indicate that you're dealing with an unethical or inept funeral home.

Here are some of the most common violations:

Charging a higher price for immediate burial if you buy the casket outside the funeral home (a "casket handling fee") is prohibited by the FTC "Disinfecting/basic care of unembalmed remains" is your choice, not the funeral director's. A charge for "sheltering of remains" should be optional. The FTC staff issued an opinion that funeral homes cannot charge separately for this service in the first three days, but this opinion is not a part of the regulations. Bundling the cost of "supervising a funeral service" into the non-declinable basic services fee is not permitted. Because not all customers want a funeral ceremony, the mortuary cannot make it a mandatory charge.

 

Consumer Guide to Cemetery Purchases

Posted by komputroniks on March 22, 2013 at 5:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Many people ask us about the costs to expect with a funeral, but they often forget that cemetery expenses are in addition to and separate from services you pay a funeral home or crematory to perform. Buying burial rights at a cemetery can be a complicated and costly process, and cemeteries aren’t sufficiently regulated in most states. While the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule entitles you to printed price lists, truthful disclosures, and the right to buy only what you want from the mortuary, this rule doesn’t cover cemeteries. A few states offer cemetery customers those protections at the state level, but most don’t. It’s important to know exactly what you’re buying, and how to negotiate for it, before you’re in the grave.

The Basics

Right of Interment—What most people would call “the grave.” When you “buy a grave,” you haven’t actually bought a piece of property like the land your house sits on. You’ve bought the right to be buried in a particular space (whether that’s a full-body grave, a small space for ashes, or a slot in a mausoleum).

Opening/Closing— The charges to dig the grave and fill it back in once the casket or urn is placed. If you entomb the casket or urn in a mausoleum space, this charge also applies. Opening/closing charges are usually not included in the cost of the right of interment. That means if you “bought a grave,” even many years ago, you or your survivors will likely have to pay an additional opening/closing fee.

Vault— Also known as an “outer burial container” or “grave-liner” these are boxes for your box. Made of concrete, steel or lightweight fiberglass-type materials, they are placed in the grave with the casket inside. While there are no laws in any state that require them, many cemeteries do. They’re designed to prevent the ground from sinking as the casket deteriorates over time, making it easier to mow the grass with heavy equipment. The funeral director or cemetery staff will usually order the vault and arrange for the vault company to install it for the burial. The installation cost may be included in the retail price of the vault, but sometimes it’s separate, and $200 is not uncommon. No casket, vault or container of any kind will prevent the body from decomposing; even those that are marketed as “sealed” or “air-tight” and none of them will keep out air, water, or dirt indefinitely. If someone is trying to sell you a vault to “protect” the casket, they’re manipulating your emotions with unrealistic promises. The only thing such costly boxes will do is lighten your wallet.

Mausoleums— Above-ground buildings where the casket is placed in a drawer-like space with a plaque bearing the name of the deceased. Some people choose mausoleum entombment because they don’t like the idea of being in the ground and because they often provide a comfortable place to visit no matter the weather. Some are marketed as a “clean and dry” alternative to ground burial, but the quality of how mausoleums are built and maintained varies significantly. The body will still decompose in a mausoleum space, and there have been a number of unfortunate incidents of fluids and odors leaking out of the crypts. Be sure to check the mausoleum for cleanliness ahead of time and do not do business with a mausoleum that requires a “sealed” casket. Those caskets (they have a rubber gasket around the lid) are what cause gas build-up and leaking.

Columbariums— Miniature versions of mausoleums designed for urns containing cremated remains. While they are usually less expensive than full-sized spaces, they can still be quite costly.

Perpetual Care— Most states require cemeteries to deposit a percentage of every sale into a maintenance fund to ensure upkeep of the grounds and the graves over the years. This percentage usually ranges from 5 to 15-percent. Many cemeteries have managed their funds carefully over the years. But many have not, and even conservatively run cemeteries have found the maintenance funds haven’t grown sufficiently to keep up with inflation, especially as fewer families buy conventional graves. While you can’t avoid paying the perpetual care fee, understand that it’s no guarantee the cemetery will be properly maintained forever. Funeral Consumers Alliance is seeing a rise in the number of cemeteries going broke and defunct from either mismanagement, theft of the maintenance funds, or low returns because of a poor investment market.

Before You Buy

Unlike with funeral homes, federal regulations don’t require cemeteries to give you a printed, itemized price list before you buy and there are no federal regulations that give cemetery customers the right to buy only the services and merchandise they want. Funeral homes, for example, may not require you to buy their casket, and they can’t impose a “handling fee” if you bring in a casket from an outside vendor. But these rules don’t apply to cemeteries.

Because cemetery regulation is so lax, consumers frequently complain that cemeteries tell them the family must buy the headstone only from the cemetery. Or, that the cemetery will impose a ludicrous “inspection fee” for any markers purchased from an outside vendor. One man told us a Mississippi cemetery tried to charge him $2.50 per square inch to inspect the marker he bought from a local business. At $7,000, he would have paid the cemetery three times what the marker cost just for the staff to (allegedly) inspect it. We believe this kind of behavior is a clear violation of federal anti-trust and monopoly laws, but few states are paying attention.

In addition, only a few states require cemeteries to give you a copy of the rules pertaining to allowable markers and visiting hours before the sale. Because of these problems, you need to be proactive as a consumer:

Get a printed, itemized price list for all services and merchandise before you buy. Get a copy of the cemetery’s rules and regulations ahead of time.

Pay particular attention to the type and size of monuments that are allowed. Remember, cemeteries have the right to set such rules, and it’s no good to spend money on a monument the cemetery won’t allow to be set.

Be aware of the cemetery’s rules on grave decorations ahead of time. Most cemeteries will bar glass items and excessive decorations such as numerous pinwheels, picket fencing, etc. It is legitimate for a cemetery to set such standards for aesthetics and safety, but be sure you know what they are before you buy. Make sure you understand the finance contract you are singing. Many cemeteries cancel your contract if you donot pay paymentts for 3 to 6 months and you loose all the money you paid!

Beore yu buy from the cemetery ,explore your options on line and find cemetery brokers and private parties who sell burial plots at a lower price. Our website also provides a section where our visitors and members advertise their burial plots for sale.click here to visit this section

Do not do business with any cemetery that will not provide this information ahead of time. If their business attitude before the sale makes you uncomfortable, imagine how you’d feel down the line with a friend or relative buried there in perpetuity, knowing you had no choice but to deal with this business.

Think long and hard before you buy a cemetery plot ahead of time. It may be enticing to “act now before prices go up,” but buying interment rights ahead of time can be a costly mistake.

It is difficult to predict with certainty that you’ll still be living in the cemetery’s area many years down the road, and transporting a casket a long distance can be extremely costly for your survivors. It can be quite difficult to sell a grave you no longer need and with the cremation rate rising, it’s only getting harder to sell full-sized graves on the secondary market. However, purchasing ahead of time may make sense if you have a family tradition, strong feelings about using a specific cemetery, or if you are choosing one that is likely to run out of space.


How Much Will It Cost? Prices for cemetery services vary so widely around the country, it’s impossible to give an average figure. In many rural areas, small, nonprofit cemeteries will sell you a full-sized grave for $3000 or so, and perhaps charge $200 to $500 to open the grave. Cemeteries in urban areas—particularly those owned by for-profit companies—often charge $5,000 to $10,000 for a full-sized grave or mausoleum space, and the opening and closing. Even burial of a small urn can be very costly; one family complained that a corporate-owned cemetery charged them $800 just to turn a few screws and remove the small plate that opened the columbarium space for the urn.

In very broad terms, it’s not unusual to expect to pay at least $2,000 for the cemetery costs of a full-casket burial over and above the cost of the funeral. But your mileage will vary; as with all death-related costs, shop around among as many cemeteries as you can ahead of time.

Miscellaneous In many areas, full body burial is allowed on your own property; check the zoning rules in your county. It is legal in every state to bury or sprinkle cremated remains on private property with permission of the landowner. Beware of bogus veteran’s sales tactics offering a free grave to the vet but charging an inflated rate to the spouse. Remember that vets and their spouses are entitled to free burials in a federal VA cemetery and free or nearly free burial in a state VA cemetery.


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