The Funeral Business
How come it’s so wrong for a funeral home to demand to be paid compared to any other business? What’s the difference? We supply a service you ask for. In return we expect to be paid. It’s that simple. But somehow, it’s become wrong for us to ask for payment. I’m really not sure why ANYONE would assume that they wouldn’t HAVE to pay! It isn’t like no one knows that eventually they or a loved one is going to pass away and, well, need to be buried/cremated. I get the whole ‘no one likes to talk about death’ bullshit…but really.
There was an article on-line from Reader’s Digest, and I am sorry but I do not have the link to it. I am sure you can just type into your search engine the article title, which is, 13 things your funeral director will not tell you. I was just bewildered at the article and the writer for writing such bullshit! Take a look at the article if you want. I am going to say this…. When you prepay your funeral, your money goes into a trust. The funeral home does NOT keep that money. It is also guaranteed and if you change your mind later on and decide that you do not want to use the funeral home you preplanned with, you may go elsewhere or your family may choose to take you elsewhere. There are “those” funeral homes (that have been on the news) that took people’s money…yes, there are those funeral homes out there that are not honest and have done this illegally! Those funeral homes that do this, WILL eventually get caught! no doubt about it! But the majority of funeral homes will NOT do this! When you pre-pay you are also locked into todays prices. ONLY if you add to that pre-pan at time of death will you incur extra charges. If the funeral home goes out of business you should call the funeral directors association in that State or contact another funeral home of your choice and let them know what the situation is. When you pre-pay you should receive paperwork that the funeral home fills out. The funeral home keeps a copy, the family gets a copy and the trust gets a copy. Once the funeral home mails in the copy to the trust, the trust in turn will mail the family a letter stating that they have received the funds. That letter has the amount paid to the pre-plan and an account number. KEEP ALL THOSE PAPERS!
Also in the article it mentions that embalming is not necessary. Simply not true. Each individual State has their own laws when it comes to embalming. My State’s law states that a body must be embalmed within 48 hours from the time that death occurs if there is to be a public visitation. Meaning if ANYONE wants to view the body, then it must be embalmed before it is viewed if it is not possible to be viewed within 48 hours. A body that is going to be cremated, no visitation, will not be embalmed. We simply pick the body up from the place of death and transport it directly to the crematory. We are not trying to scam anyone into paying more than they want or can. If someone comes in and says that they are only able to afford a certain amount, than we will do everything we can to keep the costs to a minimum. Yes, cremation is typically less expensive, however, if you want cremation, but you also want a visitation and a service then it is going to run almost as much as a burial. We do not try to sell you a casket that is thousands of dollars. First off, if you tell us that you do not have alot of money, why on earth would we try to sell you more than you can afford…we want to get paid and if we try to talk you into spending more than you have, well, chances are we aren’t going to get paid….makes sense, right… As far as caskets go, if you prefer to purchase your casket elsewhere, we have no problem with that, the only issue we have is that it is delivered to the funeral home on time and that if there is any damage to the casket, the funeral home is not responsible. We will not replace the casket or pay for any damages. I have had a few families order caskets elsewhere, one was scratched, but not bad at all, you couldn’t even really tell, and the others were fine. If the deceased was a veteran, yes, there are veteran’s benefits. For a marker, there is no charge. Opening and closing fees are waived, IF burial takes place in a Government cemetery. There are also other benefits available, and most funeral homes will gladly obtain the necessary paperwork for the families and even fill the paperwork out and explain to the family what they need to do. I fill out all the veteran paperwork and have the next of kin sign where necessary and let them know what needs to accompany the paperwork. Usually a certified copy of the death certificate, copy of the funeral bill, and the veterans discharge (DD-214) papers. We will even mail all the paperwork for the family, BUT, they (the Government) requires that the bill be paid in full! So, no use trying to get any other benefits if the funeral bill is not paid. This is not a funeral home rule, this is the veteran’s benefits rules.
As far as removing any gold teeth. First off, most “gold teeth” are simply not gold teeth…they are gold fillings!! Unless you have a solid gold tooth in your mouth, then the gold in the fillings are really not worth much value. Second, we will NOT remove any teeth or fillings. Period. We are NOT Dentists. If you feel it necessary to have any gold, fillings or not, removed from your loved one, then you must obtain a Dentist to come into the funeral home and have them removed. I have had this happen not too long ago. The husband could have cared less, but the children all wanted the “gold” removed from their mother mouth. I explained we would not do it and if he preferred he could contact his Dentist and he was more than welcome to come, but first they have to contact him asap, so we do not start any other process, such as sewing/glueing the mouth closed. He said that he was very good friends with their Dentist and have been going to him for years and years….well, even the Dentist told him he would not do it. Also, told him that the “gold” in his wifes mouth, are only fillings and not worth much…so, they did not have the gold taken out.
Also in the article, it mentions the fact that instead of being called a Mortician, we go by Funeral Director because it has a “nicer ring” to it….well…uhhhh, yeeeeeeah! Why wouldn’t you/we? I really don’t even see the wrong doing here? Mortician does sound creepy as opposed to Funeral Director.
It also mentions that we may ask for a photo of your loved one and that we mean a recent photo not an older photo. Not sure why this is a big deal either…We ask for a photo so we know how that person styled their hair, facial hair, makeup…but we explain this to our families anyway so they know to bring a photo that is recent enough. Altho there has been the time or two when a family has brought in an older photo and we have to explain that we need something more recent.
I believe they mention a vault as well. No, you do not need an expensive vault and we never claim that you do. Again, maybe there are those funeral homes that try to push the more expensive items, but MOST of your funeral homes will NOT! The least expensive vault is a concrete rough box. And it is just that. A concrete box, the lid sits on top. If you want something that seals, then you have to upgrade to another vault and those are more expensive. Plain and simple. Most cemeteries require a vault. So, we are not trying to sell you something you don’t need.
Just to add my two cents… As far as trying to save money, if you do not want to use a Hearse, if the funeral home offers a service vehicle, such as a van, you can do that and it is less expensive. Death certificates, we do not charge for the death certificates. We only charge what the city/county clerk charges. We don’t add-on extra. Each clerk and county has different pricing. One city/county may charge $15 for the first death cert. and $5 for each additional whereas the next city or county may charge $20 for the first and $7 for each additional. Also, as far as the death certificates go, we pay that as a cash advance. We front that money before you even pay us, most of the time. Death certificates must be done in a timely manner, so we cannot wait to do those. So be sure of how many you need. Other cash advanced items would be any death notices/obituaries. Our local papers do not have a set price. They charge by the line. So we have no idea of how much it will cost until after we submit the notice. Again, we do not charge extra for this either. We only charge what the paper charges. Cremation fees and Medical Examiner’s cremation permit are also items that are cash advance items. And again we do not charge extra, only what the crematory charges and the M.E. Medical Examiners also have different fees depending on the county. One may charge $30 and another may charge $75 and another may not charge at all. It just depends.
As far as a funeral homes General Price List goes…we are required to give you a price list if you come in and ask for one. We have no problems giving you a price list. Take as many as you like. We are not, however required to fax you one and we aren’t even required to give you pricing over the phone (this may vary by State, but I am not sure), but we will give your pricing over the phone because you called us and we of course want your business.
We also offer Limited Services. These are services we offer to those who cannot afford much at all. In my experience I have come to realize that most families do not even want to hear about them, but we offer them and we have a separate price list just for those options and again, we are more than happy to give you one. We also offer lower end caskets and if a family wants to see one, than they may do so. We do not hide them or keep them in the basement. There are times when we do not have one on the floor but that goes for any of the caskets we display.
So, again, it is on-line, Reader’s Digest, 13 Things a Funeral Director will not tell you.