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Posted on: March 12th, 2014 by nyfuneralc

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Tips

Posted on: March 12th, 2014 by nyfuneralc

Tips

Planning

Posted on: March 12th, 2014 by nyfuneralc

Planning

Choices

Posted on: March 12th, 2014 by nyfuneralc

choices

What to Look for in a Funeral Service Provider

Posted on: March 10th, 2014 by nyfuneralc

If there were any time where it may be too tough to stay levelheaded and calm, it would be during the planning of the funeral for someone you love. Through the pain and loss, you have to make what may seem to be the most mundane of arrangements – what color should be the flowers be – but the reality is that you now face a difficult task. But, what is a painful time doesn’t have to be made more stressful by the responsibility of planning the events around your loved one’s final resting place.

There are several things you should keep in mind as you are trying to determine what to look for in a funeral service provider. We all know that people die every day, but when it happens to us, especially in an unexpected event, it feels anything but common. Though emotions and tension may be running high, we need to remember to take precautions to protect ourselves from issues like fraud, overcharging and substandard service when it comes to funeral services.

To give you some perspective on what you may be up against, recent data from the National Funeral Directors Association says the average funeral $6,600, according to Fox News. Experts note that cemetery services, including the gravesite and vault or liner, may cost up to $3,000.

Brainstorm Before You Go

The death of a loved one, especially if it’s a sudden one, doesn’t always leave room for rational thought. All of a sudden, an onslaught of details are your responsibility. It may be tough, but before you even begin to look for the funeral service providers, have a loose idea of what you want. Do you think you will be planning a funeral or a memorial service? Have you considered whether you are going with burial or cremation? Do you have someone to assist you with writing or creating an obituary?

Having an idea of what you need before you visit the funeral home gives you a foundation to work from and acts as a guide for the questions that you can prepare to ask the potential providers.

Choose the Type of Funeral You Want – And Have an Idea of the Costs

The Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information website gives three types of services that you will need to decide on. It will probably save some time to be aware of which type of funeral is which before you select your funeral service provider.

When you have a traditional funeral, you usually will have a viewing, visitation or wake followed by a funeral service with a formal program. It is this type of service where you will have to transport the body to either a cemetery or crematory to handle burial, entombment or cremation. This funeral is typically the most expensive.

But you when a body is buried shortly after death, is called a direct burial, and there is no viewing, visitation or wake involved. If you wish, you can hold a memorial service later at the gravesite. While there is still an additional cost for a graveside memorial, it still costs less than a full, or traditional, funeral. In the instance of direct burial, however, you are still responsible for the funeral home’s transportation of the body, buying a casket or burial container and a cemetery plot or crypt, according to Consumer Information.

Direct cremation is when the body is cremated shortly after death, with no embalming, viewing or visitation, the FTC says. Costs will include the funeral home’s basic services, transport of the body and a crematory fee. Should you choose, you can keep the remains; additional fees may be incurred if you select a cemetery plot or crypt to bury or entomb the remains.

Compare Multiple Funeral Service Providers

Choosing a funeral service provider is not like buying a pair of shoes or a new car. But keep in mind that it is an expense and you don’t want to purchase something that will cost more than it should have due to a grief-stricken haze. If you don’t have time to visit more than one funeral home, at least call two or three in your area, asking them basic questions based on the loose outline of what you want for your loved one.

Experts say that many people often choose a funeral home based on recommendations from friends and family, the facility is in their area or the provider is simply the one with the biggest ad in the phone book. But it is worth it to ask more questions, research more providers and to just be a bit more selective when you are making your decision.

Make Sure Your Rights Aren’t Being Violated

Did you know that Congress passed legislation to protect consumers planning funerals? According to Funeral-Help.com, the law first passed in 1984 and was then revised in 1994. It is known as the Funeral Rule Legislation. By law, here is what is required of funeral service providers:

• They have to provide a general price list covering the fees of all services offered available to you, whether you ask in person or by phone.
• They have to show you a price list for caskets, outer containers and urns, though they are not required to let you keep a copy. (It’s probably a good sign if they do let you take one, though.)
• They can’t make claims about “sealing,” “gasketed,” or “protective” urns or outer containers that are not true. Apparently, such claims that imply the remains will forever be protected are a huge scam of less-than-honest funeral service providers.
• Funeral homes can’t state that certain caskets are required for cremation.
• You can purchase a casket from anywhere you choose, not just from the funeral home, and the funeral home can’t change the prices or charge any extra fees.

This year, lobbyists are calling for more changes to the law that apply not only to what is legal for what funeral homes offer, but also online retailers, cemeteries, crematories, retail stores and any other seller of funeral services and merchandise.

If a funeral service provider doesn’t adhere to this rules – or worse, doesn’t seem to be aware that there are rules – it is a good indication that they are not legitimate and do not deserve your trust or your business.

Make Sure the Funeral Service Provider Fits Your Own Criteria

In this digital age, there are many different options to plan the service of your loved one. What’s important to you about how they are laid to rest? What was important to them?

Do you care if the provider is a locally owned business or part of a national chain? Are you comfortable ordering through a website or would you prefer to meet the funeral director in person? This may be a good time to have a discussion with family members or friends that may also have a vested interest in planning the memorial services.

Do keep in mind that legislation protecting you and ensuring that you have access to certain information only applies to funeral homes at this time. You may feel safer knowing that you are protected by law when you decide to use a more traditional approach to planning the service of your loved one.

Take Note of Your Surroundings

If you have started to actually visit funeral service providers or sellers of merchandise, take a look around. If it is a retailer, the products should be clean, orderly and neatly arranged. If it is a funeral home, staff should be courteous, attentive and available. Even online retailers should have some form of customer service to make you want to choose their business.

Ultimately, when you are selecting a funeral service provider, whether a funeral home, online retailer or other third party, choose someone you are comfortable with. This is perhaps the most important part of selecting a funeral service provider. You must choose someone whom you trust to take care of your loved one’s remains. You need to trust that they will take care of the details, that they will stay true to their word and that they are offering you fair prices for their services.

You may want to know just how you may determine if you a comfortable with the potential service provider. Consider this: how do they respond to your questions? Do they have any samples in various price ranges or are they only showing you the most expensive options (remember your rights!)? Are they empathetic, professional and understanding when they speak to you? Trust your instincts when you meet the provider’s representative to make sure that you can actually imagine them taking care of your loved one’s arrangements without worry.

Choosing a funeral service provider is only one of the first steps in dealing with the grief that comes along with losing a loved one. Ensuring that you take care to make the best decision possible may be a comfort as you move forward with the healing process.

Sources:
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0303-choosing-funeral-provider
http://www.funeral-help.com/choosing.html
https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0302-types-funerals
http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/04/11/10-facts-funeral-directors-may-not-tell/

Complaints

Posted on: March 10th, 2014 by nyfuneralc

complaints-img1At one time or another, all of us have found ourselves in a situation where we felt that we were not treated fairly, honestly or politely. We felt that those who were providing us a service or merchandise were not treating us as we were entitled to be treated.

It is always upsetting to find ourselves in this type of situation. It is even more difficult when it happens at a time when we are dealing with the loss of a loved one. We are under great emotional stress. Concerned that we may overreact, we decide not to react at all.

How do I effectively communicate to the funeral home that I am dissatisfied with the funeral service I have received?

Be calm and polite.

First, be calm and polite. Determine exactly what you are upset about and how you want it corrected. Communicate this clearly to the staff member at the funeral home who is handling or has handled your arrangements.

Give the staff member the opportunity to make the correction for you.

By being calm, polite and communicating clearly what you wish to have corrected, you give the staff member who handled your arrangements the opportunity to make the changes you are requesting.

Seek permission to consult the manager or the owner.

If the staff member you are dealing with tells you that he or she cannot make the change, simply say, “This is very important to me. Is it all right with you if I speak to the manager or the owner about this?”

Ask your staff member to introduce you to the owner or manager.

By asking the staff member’s permission, you are continuing to seek his or her help. You are not going around him or her. You are not being angry or belligerent. You are simply asking your staff member to introduce you to a person who has more authority.

In situations where you want a corrective action now, the best way to proceed is by being calm, polite but firm and making your wishes known to the person in charge.

By assuming that a simple miscommunication has taken place, you do not make the funeral director feel defensive. You are giving the funeral director the opportunity to serve you as you wish to be served.

Funeral directors are very service oriented professionals.

Funeral directors know how important every detail and request is to the family they are serving. They are trained to give special attention to even the smallest details. Let your funeral director know graciously if you are not satisfied so that the funeral home staff will have the opportunity to adjust anything that is not the way you requested it.

Always give the funeral service professional the opportunity to make necessary changes.

Your funeral director wants to give you the service you and your family request. As with any matter concerning many details, there is the possibility for miscommunication.

Communicate with your funeral director.

Let your funeral director know when he or she and the staff have done an outstanding job of serving you in your time of loss. Likewise let your funeral director know when he or she and the staff have not performed as you had a right to expect. The funeral director will value both types of communications.

What if my funeral director will not listen to me?

If you have tried to communicate with your funeral director in a calm, polite manner, and feel that he or she is not listening to you, then you should seek the mediation skills of the Funeral Ethics Association.
What is the Funeral Ethics Association?

The Funeral Ethics Association is dedicated to promoting the highest ethical standards in the practice of funeral service. Many funeral directors belong to the Funeral Ethics Association and subscribe to the Code of Ethics which the Funeral Ethics Association has established.

The Funeral Ethics Association strives to promote, to educate and to advance ethical standards in funeral service.

The Funeral Ethics Association serves as a mediator – your ombudsman – in cases where consumers wish to present situations where they feel they have not been properly served.

Consumers may send their questions or matters of concern to the Funeral Ethics Association. The Association will review them, make the funeral director aware of the situation and seek a solution which is mutually agreeable to both the consumer and the funeral director.

Tips to Choose a Cremation Service

Posted on: March 10th, 2014 by nyfuneralc No Comments

Moving through the feelings of shock, loss and grief to plan your loved one’s final arrangements may seem like a formidable task but it’s possible with help and support. If you can, make sure you have someone in your corner to rely on during this tough time.

If you’re in the midst of planning a funeral service, you may have decided that cremation is a better option that a traditional burial. Some benefits of cremation include that the costs can be significantly cheaper, you have the choice to take up less space in a cemetery and if keeping the remains of your loved close to you is important, you are able to keep them at your home.

If you have decided to have a funeral service involving cremation, there are resources available to help you select a provider that best fits your needs. Though it may feel like cost shouldn’t be a factor, experts say it is definitely best to consider the most reasonably-priced options to lay your loved one to rest. With cost in mind, you’ll want to make sure that you are asking the right questions when you select someone to handle the arrangements.

First, let’s start off with what a cremation service entails. You can have a direct cremation, where the remains are cremated shortly after death and arrangements are either made for burial or entombment at a later date, the family keeps the remains in an urn or other approved container or the family takes the ashes to scatter them at a favorite or significant location of the deceased. If you select cremation but you still want to have a funeral or memorial service, you can make arrangements to cremate the body after the service as well or have the remains taken care of before you schedule the service.

Below are some tips to choose the best facility to perform the cremation and handle the services, should you choose to have one.

Think About Which Service You Want

The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) says that funeral service professionals are battling many preconceived notions about the options available for cremation. Many people may believe that if you cremate the remains, you have to do it right away and don’t allow friends and family the option to see the body or have a service. The reality is, however, that you can still have a traditional service celebrating the life of your loved one even if you opt out of a burial.

It helps to already know what you want as you look for a cremation provider so that you can consider costs early. National Funeral Council.Org gives a comprehensive list of the options available to you related to cremation, which includes:

  • Just Cremation (also called simple or direct cremation) – No viewing or services prior to or after cremation. This service is the simplest of all of the cremation options. Consider whether you will have a lot of friends and family who would want to say goodbye. If the family and friends pool is relatively small, you may want to go with a direct cremation. Remember that having a memorial service doesn’t have to be a formal affair; you can always host something small at someone’s home later.
  • Cremation and Memorial Service – Memorial service may or may not be held at the cremation provider’s facility. Should you decide to go with a memorial service, you do have the option of hosting the event at the funeral home. Keep in mind that hosting the memorial service will incur more costs with the funeral home or whatever facility you decide to use.
  • Viewing with Cremation to Follow – A viewing or wake (private or public) with cremation to follow. You will have to think about costs and arrangements for transporting the remains from the viewing or wake to the crematory or funeral home.
  • Viewing, Cremation, Memorial – A viewing or wake (private or public) with cremation and a memorial service to follow. This option includes many of the elements of a traditional funeral. There is a viewing of the remains, the remains are transported to the crematory or funeral home and then there is a memorial service that may consist of clergy officiating, song selections and other tributes.
  • Viewing, Funeral Service, Cremation – A viewing or wake (private or public), a funeral service with the body present and cremation to follow. Burial or scattering the cremated remains may follow the next day. This option is essentially a traditional full-service funeral, only you handle the remains after the viewing and funeral services are over.

For many people, having a place to visit their loved one is important. If that is true for you, choosing a place to scatter the ashes or burying them is something you may want to consider.

Remember that in New York State, only a licensed funeral director can make arrangements for the care, moving and preparation of the remains for cremation, followed by the necessary preparations to move the body to the crematory. The funeral director also files the death certificate and obtains the cremation permit, says the Division of Cemeteries website.

Consider Whether a Crematory or Funeral Home is Best

Let’s start with some basic definitions. A crematory is simply the facility that has the equipment to cremate a person’s remains. Sometimes the crematory is only able to perform the cremation, but in other cases, the facility also has rooms available for small viewings or memorial services. A funeral home, which is probably most familiar to you, is a facility that is operated by a licensed funeral director and can facilitate the details most commonly associated with a full-service funeral, including caskets, flowers, transportation to the burial site, etc. Sometimes a funeral home doesn’t have a crematory on site, so you may end up working with both types of facilities as you plan your service.

All crematories in New York are regulated by the state, according to the Division of Cemeteries. Of the 47 active crematories, 44 are operated by nonprofit organization, two are operated by municipalities and one is run by a religious organization.

Whether you go with a crematory or funeral home will depend on the type of service you choose. If you’re going with a traditional funeral, a funeral home can probably best handle all of the details surrounding the arrangements. If you are doing a direct cremation and will be holding the memorial service at a later date, you can work with a licensed funeral director to handle the relationship between you and the crematory.

Check the Prices

We can’t stress enough that cost should very much be a factor in how you choose your cremation service. Prices can vary widely so definitely call around or do some research online to help you learn what price range is comfortable for you. Federal laws stipulate that funeral homes must have a price list available to you when you request it, whether by phone or in person.

The cost of embalming is definitely one of the most costly parts of planning any funeral service. In New York, embalming is not required by state law, but the facility you choose may require it if you are planning a memorial or funeral service where your loved one will be on display for viewing.

New York law also doesn’t require that you purchase a casket, which can be another pricey part of funeral planning. However, you must purchase or rent a container that shields the remains from public view while they are being transported. New York regulations state the remains must be “delivered to the crematory in a leak-proof, rigid combustible container that completely encloses the human remains,” the Division of Cemeteries explains. With those standards in mind, be sure to ask about containers to transport the remains besides coffins.

Check the Reviews, On and Offline

Online reviews and Internet searches is the 21st century word-of-mouth. There is no reason not to know about whether the facility of your choosing is up to code on industry standards, has had any brushes with the law or has any sort of trouble. The media can be a wonderful source for investigations or issues so pay attention to any news stories about the facility you’re considering.

If anything seems doesn’t seem right or legal, move on to the next facility. It’s definitely worth your peace of mind to pursue a competent, trustworthy service that will be able to fulfill its duties.

The Bottom Line

Keep in mind that choosing cremation doesn’t mean that your loved one’s final arrangements can’t have a personal touch that reflects his or her personality. The truth is that you can make the service before or after the cremation as unique as your loved one was. When you are planning the service — no matter what you choose — you can personalize with special tributes, photographs, music or displays. You have the options to still make the celebration a lasting way to say goodbye.

Sources:
http://nationalfuneralcouncil.org/how-to-select-a-crematory-funeral-home-or-cremation-society/
http://www.health.ny.gov/professionals/patients/patient_rights/funeral.htm
http://www.dos.ny.gov/cmty/faq-cremation.html

How To Preplan Your Funeral

Posted on: March 10th, 2014 by nyfuneralc

If you’re thinking about planning a funeral and the person who will be laid to rest is yourself, congratulations. That may sound a bit strange, but you should know you are in the minority. You’re ahead of 75 percent of the population that has to plan funerals completely unprepared, probably full of emotions and possibly with the extra cash to spend on arrangements that become quite expensive.

Experts recommend pre-planning and you may want to think about pre-paying, too, although pre-paying comes with its own set of benefits and risks. But keep in mind that you can pre-plan without pre-paying. Experts agree that pre-planning is the best way to let your loved ones know what you want done and offer them peace of mind by removing the stress of having to make arrangements while they are grieving. Some even call pre-planning your funeral “a final act of love,” though it may be unpleasant to plan for, or even think about, our own deaths.

How to Pre-Plan

So you first thought may be: Planning my own funeral? That’s bizarre. No one wants to consider their own mortality, right? But stop and think about it: who knows what you would want better than you? Here are a few of the steps you should take to begin.

  1. Start the conversation. Contact funeral homes in your area and talk to a funeral director about the first steps. You probably will have to think about such options as do you want a full, traditional funeral? Do you consider cremation a viable option? Does your family already have a vault or a crypt?
  2. Write your plans down. Do you have a favorite song that you feel will stand the test of the time, that you would want played or sung for you no matter what? Include it in your plan. Have a favorite flower? Write it down. Would you rather spare people the expense of sitting in a somber funeral home and you want your service outside, weather permitting? Make sure you make a note of that. If there is anything that would be important to you, be sure that you include it. Don’t assume that you would have time to communicate those last details.
  3. Visit the final resting place. If you choose to have a burial, you may want to take a look at the plot. You may want to request that the plot is in the shade of a huge weeping willow or next to a peaceful pond. You may request that your headstone have some great quote or script. Then again, you could just want to be cremated and have your ashes scattered across the highway because you loved to drive. The point is that you make a choice about what you want — and make it an informed choice.
  4. Be reasonable. Depending on whether you are actually going to begin to pay on your funeral, you have to decide if it is fair to request the priciest casket, a horse and carriage, the dove released for every year of your life and the gold-gilded wreaths. Remember that the responsibility of executing your wishes — no matter how simple or extravagant – is with the ones who are left behind. It would be a great gift if you could think about a way to make it a little easier on them, as they will already be dealing with a terrible loss.
  5. Make copies of your wishes. Identify those closest to you whom you trust to carry out your final wishes. Give a copy to your attorney as well, the Federal Trade Commission advises.
  6. Consider revisions of your plans every few years. You can revise and update plans as your thoughts you change or you learn more about burial/entombment/interment processes that you didn’t know. For example, green funerals are becoming more popular. Options that are pretty out-of-the-box as compared to today’s standards — think about your remains being made into a reef to sit at the bottom of the sea or perhaps being blasted into outer space — could become more common and turn into something that catches your attention as time goes on.

If You Pre-Pay

Many people use the term “prepay” and “preplan” interchangeably, but the reality is that you can plan your funeral service without paying a cent. However, there are some benefits to paying on the service. The biggest benefit is probably that you could potentially lock in today’s prices on goods and services, which could be good news for your loved ones. Your family and friends will not only potentially not have to worry about planning your service; they also may not have to pay for the entire thing and any costs they do incur would be frozen at 2014 prices, instead of dealing with the inflation of rates 80 years from now.

Just as if you were pricing the options of someone else’s final service, you will want to reach out to multiple funeral homes to compare prices. A funeral home’s General Price List, which they are required by law to give you, can help you determine which facility you may want to go with.

Did you know that there is a Bill of Rights from that National Funeral Directors Association that details the guarantees that you are afforded as a consumer? Those rights state that a lawful and ethical funeral home will:

  1. Provide you a full and complete list of services offered and their rates prior to you selecting services.
  2. Provide a full written statement of your choices, at rate/price you chose, after you make your selection.
  3. Provide a preneed contract depicting your rights and obligations in plain language.
  4. Provide a guarantee to substitute goods/services of equal or greater value should your selections become unavailable at the time of need.
  5. Explain in the your contract where the geographical areas of the funeral home’s service are and how you would go about moving a preneed contract to another funeral home if necessary (for example, if you relocated or if death occurred outside the service area of the funeral home)
  6. Explain in your contract where and how much of the money you pay will be deposited until the funeral.
  7. Explain in the contract the person responsible for paying any taxes on income or interest created by preneed funds that have been invested.
  8. Tell you whether prices of goods and services are locked in, or guaranteed, by the funeral home — or what the funeral home will guarantee. If additional amounts are due at the funeral, the contract should stipulate who is responsible for paying them.
  9. Explain in the contract how and the circumstances required for you to cancel the contract and how much of your money will be refunded.

Always keep your family and your attorney informed of any contract you sign or agreement that you enter into, especially if they are the ones who will actually be liable for executing your plans. The Federal Trade Commission also warns if your family doesn’t know that you have prepaid the costs, they could end up paying for the same arrangements — which is a pretty good point to note.

Drawbacks to Prepaying

There are some risks associated with prepaying for your funeral. The most obvious is that the funeral home where you may the arrangements may no longer be in business or they may change ownership, the Federal Trade Commission warns. This is why your preneed contract is so important.

Prices also may go up so that the funeral you thought you were paying on actually becomes more of a hardship for your loved ones. Again, this is where the need for the contract comes in. Make sure that it is spelled out, in plain language, what the funeral home is guaranteeing you for your money. Note that while you can prepay for certain expenses like the death certificate, cemetery, costs, etc., many funeral homes don’t want to include them because they have no control over these costs. So consider that you could be prepaying for a funeral where your loved ones are still responsible for those extra costs. But the Department of Health does mention that you may negotiate separately with the cemetery, crematory or monument dealer.

It’s always a good idea to know your state laws if you decide to prepay as well. New York Department of Health notes that the state “gives New Yorkers some of the strongest protection in the country,” but does not provide absolute protection.

As with any financial transaction, there are benefits and drawbacks to the way you decide to handle pre-paying for your own funeral. But know that at least thinking about what you want for your final arrangements, even informally, can give your loved ones the peace of mind that they know — without a doubt — that you would be pleased with your final goodbye.

Sources:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nancy-cronk/funeral-preplanning-your-final-act-of-love_b_3894519.html
http://nfda.org/index.php/planning-a-funeral/preplanning/30
http://nfda.org/planning-a-funeral/preplanning.html
http://news.discovery.com/space/private-spaceflight/space-burial-company-to-send-human-ashes-into-orbit-131105.htm
http://eternalreefs.com/

Guide to Planning a Funeral

Posted on: March 10th, 2014 by nyfuneralc

It’s a pretty simple concept that if you want any event to go well, you plan in advance. Well, sometimes it is just not possible to plan in advance. Statistics from the National Funeral Directors Association show that only 25 percent of U.S. funerals are pre-planned, meaning that the vast majority of people who are putting together a funeral service are vastly unprepared. When you unexpectedly lose a loved one, planning a funeral becomes a responsibility that needs to happen fairly quickly.

But that doesn’t mean that some planning isn’t possible. There are plenty of resources for you to plan a thoughtful service recognizing the life and properly mourning the loss of your beloved.

ImSorrytoHear.com has a fantastic comprehensive list of actions to take after a loved one dies. We’ve incorporated some of that list below for you to consider.

For General Preparation

  • Notify authorities of the death if it has occurred outside a hospital, hospice, or nursing home
  • Assemble personal information for the death certificate and obituary
  • Notify family and friends – You have to decide what’s the best way to let people know that your loved one haspassed on. Sometimes calling may be appropriate for those closest. In thisage, sometimes social media surpasses us, so you may have to instruct people not to post of your loved one’s passing on outlets such as Facebook and Twitter without your permission.
  • Locate and read the last Will and Testament
  • Take care of financial needs as suggested as the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs.
    • Locate the family’s important papers, including wills, life insurance policies and stock certificates.
    • Call employee benefits office with deceased’s personal information
    • Notify Medicare.
    • You can get death certificates, and request multiple copies of it, by calling the NYC Department of Health (212) 788-4250, though your funeral director can also assist you with this.
    • Notify Social Security by calling (800) 772-1213.
    • Investigate whether you can get emergency cash before insurance claims are paid.
    • If your loved one served in the U.S. military, call the Veterans Administration at (800) 827-1000.
    • Avoid spending large sums of money while you’re in an emotional state. Consider taking a friend along with you during your funeral planning.
    • Contact a financial counselor.
  • Choose a charity for donation in lieu of flowers (if requested).
  • Gather photos and memorabilia for display.
  • Gather cemetery information such as deed to the plot and receipt of purchase.

Funeral Preparation

  • Decide what kind of service you will have. The services can include variations of the services below.
    • Traditional funeral with burial
    • Traditional funeral with cremation
    • Direct burial (no viewing or funeral service)
    • Direct cremation (no viewing or funeral service)
    • Memorial service with burial
    • Memorial service with cremation
  • Determine who will pay the costs of the service.
  • Select a funeral director.
    • In New York, state law says you must have a funeral director to handle all of the arrangements of preparing and transporting your loved one’s remains for cremation or burial and filing the death certificate. No matter what your religion or culture is, be prepared to seek out the assistance of a funeral director.
  • Select your funeral home.
    • Be sure to shop around and check various prices for the services you have selected. By federal law, the funeral home must provide you with a general price list.
    • Have an idea of the clothing and jewelry you want yourloved one to wear, which can include special pins for membership and various associations or other accessories that may have been special to them.
  • Select clergy.
  • Select speakers for the eulogy.
  • Select pallbearers (typically 4-6).
  • Consider catering food/options for after the funeral procession.

There are several details of funeral planning that can make packages very costly. Here are some of the costs associated with purchasing caskets on ImSorrytoHear.com:

Metal Caskets

Metal caskets can range from $1,200 to more than $10,000. Experts say the breakdown includes standard/carbon steel caskets that range from $1,200 to $2,500. A stainless steel casket will range from $3,000 to $10,000-plus. A copper casket will also range from $3,000 to $10,000-plus and a bronze casket is the most expensive, clocking from $3,000 to $10,000-plus.

Wood Caskets

Experts say wood caskets can often be hand-crafted and can vary in selection, and pricing will vary depending on where the wood came from and the quality of the wood. Common hardwoods include poplar, cottonwood and pine and can range from $900 to $2,700. Standard hardwoods include oak, maple and cherry and can cost from $2,200 to $4,500. Premium hardwoods include walnut and mahogany, which can run from $5,000 to $10,000.

Burial Vault/Liner

A burial vault or liner is not required by law but they are often required by cemeteries. To help offset the cost of an average vault, which runs about $1,195, purchase a liner instead which runs from $400 to $800.

Personalizing Your Funeral Service

Once you have gotten through the basic checklist, you should be on track to make the service more unique and personal to honor your loved one. There are several ways that you can either follow tradition or create a different kind of experience.

  • Music – Was there a particular kind of music that your loved one liked to listen to? Consider playing some of their favorite tunes or having musicians come to the service to sing or play live.
  • Photographs/slideshows – Pictures really can be worth a thousand words. If your friend/family loved to travel and have fun and have the photos to prove it, why not shows those memories in a short movie? Make sure the funeral home has a projector and the audio/video equipment to accommodate the display.
  • Presentations from family/friends. – Funerals can often be used as a celebration of a person’s life by those who loved them the most. There may be people who would like to say a poem, read a religious scripture or sing a song as a tribute. Other tributes can include displaying a work of art or giving some sort of award posthumously.
  • Resolutions/Presentations from organizations – If a person was active in the community or their church, a representative from those organizations may want to read a resolution honoring the person. The representative may also want to present the family with a certificate or written copy of the resolution. Certain membership organizations, professional clubs, sororities, fraternal organizations also have ceremonies they reserve for their deceased members. You may want to contact them to see if there are any presentations that they would like to include on the program.

Memorial Service/Funeral Etiquette

There are many different kinds of funeral services based on different cultures, religions and faith. If you are having a service for someone where a person of another faith, culture of religion may be invited, consider that the person may abstain from certain rites and traditions and do not take it as an offense. If a person of a different faith or culture is for some reason unable to attend a funeral due to his or her beliefs, be sure to let the person know if you are having a viewing where they can come, pay their respects and sign the guestbook.

You may be in a bit of a fog during the planning, but you still have to get through the service. There isn’t necessarily a “right” way to act at a funeral, especially if you are grieving. But if you feel like you’re not prepared to greet or interact with people at the service, or the funeral itself, Everplans.com gives several helpful tips:

 

  • Don’t worry too much about what to wear (people will be there to support you, not to worry about what you are wearing) but make sure that your clothing is clean, appropriate and comfortable.
  • The first two rows of seats or pews are typically reserved for immediate family so that is where you should sit.
  • Be prepared to greet people who come to the funeral as they come in and respond to condolences, handshakes and hugs. You don’t have to have a long conversation, but thanking them for coming is appropriate.
  • If someone says something insensitive or otherwise acts inappropriately, Everplans suggests that you tell the person you would rather not discuss the issue, thank them and walk away.
  • Write thank you notes to everyone who signed the guestbook at the service. You may be able to coordinate this through the funeral home.

Planning funerals can be a bit overwhelming and there is no doubt that it can be an emotionally draining time. However, staying calm and taking advantage of resources as you plan can make all the difference — resulting in a beautiful service that is as memorable as the person’s life you are celebrating.

Sources:
https://www.everplans.com/articles/7-helpful-funeral-etiquette-tips-for-the-bereaved
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/judith-johnson/death-and-dying_b_4802781.html
http://www.nyc.gov/html/dca/downloads/pdf/Funerals.pdf
http://www.forbes.com/sites/carolynmcclanahan/2013/07/15/how-to-shop-for-a-funeral/

How To Plan A Funeral On A Budget

Posted on: March 10th, 2014 by nyfuneralc

Statistics show that about 75 percent are unprepared to plan a funeral when a loved one suddenly dies. The term unprepared can cover a multitude of feelings that come along with facing death: shock, grief, hopelessness, anger, helplessness — pretty much the proverbial gamut of emotions. But what this also means is that many people aren’t financially prepared to suddenly be responsible for thousands of dollars to pay for a funeral.

If you are fortunate, your loved one had some sort of life insurance that will help offset the inevitable expenses to lay them to rest. But for those who didn’t have life insurance or maybe don’t have a lot of it, it’s better to try to work through the emotions to seek a cost-effective way to celebrate the life of your beloved.

The average cost of a funeral is about $6,000. First, let’s address the areas are not optional when planning a funeral service or (even simply just arrangements to lay a person to rest even without a full funeral):

  • Engaging a Licensed Funeral Director

    In New York, a Licensed Funeral Director must handle all of the arrangements of preparing the remains for burial or cremation, filing the death certificate, transporting the body for cremation or burial, securing a cremation permit and acting as a liaison between you and the cemetery, crematory or crypt. Essentially, the funeral director is your representative in selecting and planning a memorable service so it should be someone you are comfortable with. To begin looking for a licensed director, start with the National Funeral Directors Association directory, where you can search for professional and funeral homes near you.
    Average cost: $1,500

  • Filing a Death Certificate

    You can file the death certificate through the funeral home and they cannot charge you additional fees. They will file the certificate with the registrar of Vital Records in the town where death occurred; so don’t be confused if the filing doesn’t happen where your loved one actually lived. You should be prepared to obtain more than one copy for various agencies that may need a copy for their own records.
    Average cost: The fee for a death certificate is $15 in New York City and $10 (or less) in the rest of New York State, according to the State Department of Health.

  • Purchasing and Transporting a Burial Container

    Though you may opt out of the more pricey, full-service traditional funeral, state law in New York says that you have to have some sort of leak-proof, combustible container to transport the remains to a crematory for direct cremation or a cemetery for direct burial (we’ll talk more about your funeral service options in a bit). The bottom line is the law indicates that you must have approved encasing when you are having the remains moved and that — plus transportation itself — will incur a cost.
    Average cost: Prices can run from a basic container at $900 to the average casket at $2,300.

  • Embalming/Topical Disinfectant

    Contrary to popular belief, embalming is not required by state law; however, a funeral home may require it, depending on the services chosen. If embalming is not required because you have decided not to have a viewing with an open casket, for example, you may be required to purchase only topical disinfectant instead.
    Average cost: Embalming can run about $500 while just topical disinfectant may be as low as $195.

  • Burial/Cremation/Other Means of Disposition

    Whether you decide on a burial, cremation or even green burials, there will be some sort of cost incurred to take care of your loved one’s remains. But how you choose to handle that process could make the difference between spending $3,000 and $10,000-plus.

Where You Can Save Money

The key to saving money when planning for a funeral is knowing where you can actually cut costs without sacrificing the quality of the service or respect that you have for your loved one. Looking for ways to have a cost-effective service doesn’t take away from the care and consideration that you have to make the service a memorable one.

Often, people are so consumed with grief that they don’t question the costs for funerals or believe that many elements are required when either they aren’t essential at all or there is a cheaper alternative available. Take a look at alternative costs that will help you save in the long run.

  • Check Multiple Funeral Homes

    Just like when you’re purchasing any other big-ticket item, you don’t go with the first offer you see. Planning a funeral obviously is a more sensitive time, but the rules still apply. Experts say that many people overpay for funerals simply because they didn’t seek other options.Prices for the exact same service can vary greatly depending on where you go. Have a figure in mind before you start your research. If you absolutely decide that you will not spend more than $1,000 for a coffin, then stick with that price and find either a funeral home or other retailer that will satisfy that requirement.

  • Direct Burial/Direct Cremation vs. Traditional Funeral

    Burying or cremating the remains shortly after death can save the costs of storage, embalming and other expenses that come with keeping the remains longer and preparing them for services such as viewing/wake and an open casket during a funeral. It also saves on having to transport the remains from the venue of the funeral to the cemetery for burial or interment and buying a headstone, which can cost you another $1,500.
    According to officials, the average cost for cremation is $3,200, less than half the average cost of a traditional funeral.

  • Using Free Venue or Home for Memorial Service

    If you choose to hold a memorial service, you have options other than renting out a funeral home or church for a funeral where you have to satisfy certain costly requirements to have the remains on display, i.e. if you have an open casket viewing. Those costs will include provisions for the remains to be embalmed, dressed and transported, buried and/or interred.

    Consider less formal places that held a special meaning for your loved one, maybe a park, a community center or someone’s home. You may be able to save about $500, the average cost of using a funeral home.

  • Shop Around for Urns/Caskets

    The price of a casket can be a huge expense. If you have decided on cremation, you are not required by law to purchase a casket. All you have to do is request a container that satisfies state law, which can be as simple as a cardboard container provided by the crematory. Should you decide to keep the ashes versus scattering the remains, you can find relatively inexpensive urns. If you are having a funeral service and a cremation, consider renting a casket. Finally, if you are having a full burial, you don’t have to buy the most expensive coffin on the list (and demand to see the full list). Simple wood coffins can be as inexpensive as $900 — much less than $10,000 maple coffins.

  • Using a Cemetery That Does Not Require a Burial Vault/Grave Liner

    Another area where what seems like small things can add up is purchasing a vault or grave liner. This is not required by law, but many cemeteries require them. You can either search for a cemetery that does not require it or, if you have to choose between the two, go with a grave liner, which costs less. Most aregoing to cost between $700 and $1000, while burial vaults cost between $900 and $7,000, but can even be as high as $13,000.

  • Consider a “Green” Funeral

    Another concept that is gaining in popularity is a “green” funeral, which reportedly costs a lot less than the average $6,000 funeral. Green funerals, which eliminate embalming, cremation, or burying is better for the environment because remains don’t decompose in the ground threatening water sources and crematories don’t fill the air with hot, toxic gas.

You can find many options to go green but this idea may take a bit more research because there isn’t as much access to these choices as there is to more traditional methods. However, there are some intriguing ideas out there. From natural burials — which occur in one of the handful of cemeteries nationwide that will accept remains simply shrouded as opposed to embalmed — to eco-friendly caskets, experts predict more green funerals to increase.

Always remember that the most important thing about any funeral service is honoring the memory of the person who is no longer with us. When was the last time you heard, “Oh, wow, look at that casket!” at a funeral? You haven’t because the focus is on support that people in mourning are offering each other. You have options to plan a memorable service without paying for it for years to come.

Sources:
https://webportal.nfda.org/Membership/MemberDirectorySearch.aspx
http://www.health.ny.gov/professionals/patients/patient_rights/funeral.htm
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/13/green-burials-reduce-environmental-impact_n_1144440.html
http://funeral-tips.com/funeral-costs-how-much-does-an-average-funeral-cost/
http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2013/04/11/10-facts-funeral-directors-may-not-tell/

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