FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
In planning the funeral of one’s self or that of a loved one, there are many important decisions that need to be made in a short amount of time. It is easy to become overwhelmed or confused by unfamiliar definitions and regulations along with all of the necessary details that need to be addressed. Below are some of the explanations of the more commonly asked questions that should help you to better understand and address the process of making these final arrangements. Obviously, these outlined questions are just some items to consider, among many more that you and/or your family may have. Should any other needs or concerns arise – please do not hesitate to call upon us to assist you. firstname.lastname@example.org
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Arrangement conference: the meeting between you and your funeral director to plan either at-need or pre-need funeral arrangements.
Basic arrangements fee: the costs made by the funeral home for making all the arrangements for final disposition of the deceased. This fee levied, covers the availability of a funeral director, staff and equipment to respond to a death or inquiry. The fee also includes the arrangement conference and securing necessary authorizations such as filing the death certificate and procuring the necessary permits and/or authorizations needed. You cannot decline these costs. Please note: If you select direct burial or direct cremation, the basic arrangements fee cannot be added to those services again since it is already figured into the costs for those services.
Burial: The most commonly chosen means of final disposition. Some of the costs associated with burial include, but are not limited to: such services as the grave opening and closing and/or perpetual care (maintenance) of the grave site, and the cost of a grave space(s) if you have not already purchased them.
Cash Advance items: items of service or merchandise for which the funeral home pays directly to a third party, such as fees for the cemetery or crematory, death certificates and clergy honorarium(s). The funeral home cannot profit from these items by law. Some funeral homes may require you to pay for these items before the funeral service on your own. You may be able to pay some of these costs directly, if you choose. (Don't forget to ALWAYS get receipts for any money you spend, whether it’s to the funeral home or to third parties.)
Casket Price list: a printed or typewritten list which the funeral home must present to you by law for your review before you discuss or are shown a casket. This list will provide a brief description of each casket regularly offered by the funeral home. It must state the retail price of each casket offered.
Cemetery deed: the document from the cemetery which establishes your right to bury the deceased in the plot. You never actually own the land. Put it in a safe place – as it may be difficult to replace.
Columbarium: a type of vault with spaces, usually in a mausoleum or other such structure for storing urns or vessels containing ashes or cremated remains.
Cremation: a process by which an intense heat source reduces the body to ashes or cremated remains.
Consumer: the person making the funeral arrangements.
Direct Burial: the disposition of human remains by burial without a formal viewing, visitation, or ceremony (embalming costs and/or refrigeration costs are generally not a part of this type service, but either refrigeration of the deceased or embalming may be required due to other governing laws). If this is the case, those costs would generally be added or another type service would apply.
Direct cremation: the disposition of human remains by cremation without a formal viewing, visitation, or ceremony.
Entombment: burial in an above-ground crypt in a mausoleum.
General Price List: a form which lists the prices (or range of prices) for all of the services and merchandise regularly offered by the funeral home. This form must be offered for you to keep, at the beginning of the arrangement conference. You may request a copy from a funeral home when a personal visit is made. You do not need to complete funeral arrangements to receive this form.
Itemized Statement of Funeral Goods and Services: a detailed outline of the specific goods and services that you have chosen, the price of each item, and a total cost. Also included will be an estimate or actual costs of the cash advancement fees to be paid on your behalf to third parties. This Itemized Statement will serve as your formal written contract.
Outer burial container: a container most often times made of either concrete or metal in which the casket is placed before burial. Vaults and grave liners are some examples. Some cemeteries require outer interment receptacles to prevent collapse or sinking of the grave. If you do not want to buy one, a cemetery may often times be selected that does not require outer burial containers.
Outer Burial Container Price List: a printed or typewritten list which the funeral home must present to you by law for your review before you discuss or are shown an outer burial container. This list will provide a brief description of each outer burial container regularly offered by the funeral home. It must contain the retail price of each outer container offered.
Refrigeration fee: a fee charged by some homes for cooling the deceased when embalming is not selected or required by law. If such a fee is charged, it must be stated up front, on both the General Price List and the Itemized Statement of Funeral Goods and Services.
Topical disinfection: external cleansing of the deceased.
Transfer of remains fee: a cost(s) associated with the transportation of the deceased from the place where death occurred (or from the airport or morgue) to the funeral home.
No. However, many cemeteries do require the use of a "suitable container". The need for an outer burial container is a cemetery regulation. Even though burial vaults or grave liners are not required by law, some cemeteries require them to prevent collapse or sinking of the grave. If you do not want to purchase an outer burial container, you may sometimes be able to choose a cemetery for burial that does not require one.
No. In fact, a funeral director must obtain specific written approval to embalm from the legal next of kin of the deceased. A funeral home may, however, require embalming if certain services, such as a viewing with an open casket, are chosen. Embalming fees must be clearly stated on both the firm's General Price List and on the Itemized Statement of Funeral Goods and Services.
The costs of a funeral vary greatly. Depending upon the funeral home selected and on the type of service and merchandise requested. For example, if the service you select involves viewing the deceased, the laws may require embalming and preparation of the deceased. Also, there is a tremendous range in the costs of caskets, depending on style, type of wood or metal and lining materials among other factors. The least expensive type of funeral service most generally is either direct burial or direct cremation.
You can call several funeral homes and compare costs. (Funeral homes are required by the Federal Trade Commission to give price information over the telephone so as you, the consumer, may compare costs). If you've called upon several funeral homes and the price is still too high, you may have to reconsider your selections. You owe it to you and your loved ones to inquire – as funeral costs can and do vary greatly.
Not at Hartle’s. Casket rentals are not prohibited and some funeral homes offer this option. At Hartle’s, we do not offer rental caskets. The main reason we do not is because the lid panel portion of the rental casket is not replaceable as is the main area of the casket following each use. Therefore, if the lid panel would become soiled, either with cosmetics and/or bodily fluids of any type, tremendous legal liability would likely ensue. Our “cremation type” caskets are made specifically for the purpose of viewing with cremation to follow. Our units are priced comparable to any rental casket offered, and yes, in some cases are priced even lower. With a purchased cremation type casket, upon written permission of the legal next of kin, that unit may be donated from the crematory to a bonafide charitable institution for the specific use by a family in true need to bury a loved one. Thus, by making this charitable contribution, many families are able to deduct under Federal IRS rules the cost paid for that unit from the deceased’s final or estate income taxes as a charitable gift – please feel free to discuss this option further with me, or with your trusted tax consultant or legal representative.
No. It would be considered unprofessional conduct, with strong legal consequences, for the funeral director to state or imply that any merchandise offered for sale is unsatisfactory in any way.
Yes. Illegal actions may include but certainly are not limited to:
Probably. You will need to provide certified copies to insurance companies, banks, among others. The funeral home may obtain them for you. The funeral home cannot charge you more than the actual fee. Death certificates are filed by the funeral director with the registrar of Vital Records in the locality where the death occurred.
Yes. Prepayment can lift much if not all of the financial burden from your survivors. It also allows you to select the type of funeral arrangements you want. Pre-need funeral plans are regulated by the State of Pennsylvania. Although it is ALWAYS prudent to provide your funeral director with the biographical information, obituary and military documents that are relevant; it may not always be prudent to pre-pay for your funeral preplanning. Each of us are different people, and likewise, are of different financial means. Your monies invested may be prudently left invested where you have them – rather than setting up an additional “funeral account” for your final wishes. In some cases you are basically paying more than what you need. Ask me to explain more directly to you. I invite your calls at anytime.
No. The funeral director must obtain your written approval before making any substitutions or changes.
You have the legal right to change funeral homes at any time that you desire. Irrevocably trusted funeral pre-arrangements must be readily transferable at all times. Thus, even though those monies cannot be withdrawn without a copy of the final funeral statement and a certified copy of the death certificate of the deceased, the funds remain transferable ALWAYS at your family's directive. I welcome your call or visit at anytime to discuss your wishes further.