Common Questions about Funeral Service
Many people have questions that they may or may not feel comfortable asking their funeral director. We hope this will be of some help to you and if you think of something else you would like us to add to this list of questions, please contact us by email or telephone.



What do we do if a death in our family occurs away from home?
Our funeral home staff will arrange with another funeral home or mortuary, where the death occurred, to have preparation and transportation made back to our funeral home. We can also help you if you are planning to have a service prior to having the family member returned to your home area. back to top

 

Why is a funeral important?
For thousands of years, funerals have allowed survivors to express their feelings about the death of someone they love. The rituals provide comfort when things seem chaotic and out of control. The funeral is for expressing intense grief. For many, a visitation followed by a funeral or memorial service is the first step in the grieving process. It is a time when friends, family and other guests can come together to grieve openly and to support one another in a community environment. It is also a time to say good-bye. Viewing the deceased can bring a sense of closure to the bereaved who may be in shock and denial. back to top

 

What does a funeral director do?

  • Pick up the deceased and transport the body to the funeral home (anytime day or night)
  • Notify proper authorities, family and/or relatives
  • Arrange and prepare death certificates
  • Provide certified copies of death certificates for insurance and benefit processing
  • Work with the insurance agent, social security or Veteran''s Administration to ensure that necessary paperwork is filed for receipt of benefits
  • Prepare and submit obituary to the newspapers of your choice
  • Bathe and embalm the deceased body, if necessary
  • Prepare the body for viewing including dressing and cosmetizing
  • Assist the family with funeral arrangements and purchase of casket, urn, burial vault and cemetery plot
  • Schedule the opening and closing of the grave with cemetery personnel, if a burial is to be performed
  • Coordinate with clergy if a funeral or memorial service is to be held
  • Arrange a police escort and transportation to the funeral and/or cemetery for the family
  • Order funeral sprays and other flower arrangements as the family wishes
  • Provide Aftercare, or grief assistance, to the bereaved
  • back to top

 


What is embalming?
It is a process that sanitizes and preserves a dead body. It delays the decomposition process and allows time for viewing and services by the family prior to burial or cremation. It restores a life-like appearance to the body and can enhance the appearance of a body that has undergone a traumatic death or illness. This process can take anywhere from one to three hours to perform. The time spent embalming depends upon the severity of damage to the body, whether it be from traumatic injuries and or by not being able to perform it immediately after notification of the death. back to top

 

Is embalming required when a person dies?
No, however most states insist on embalming under certain circumstances such as when the death is caused by a contagious disease or if final disposition isn''t made within a certain time frame. Embalming preserves the body, often allowing more time for arrangements. It is required if there will be a visitation. If the deceased is to be directly buried or cremated, embalming is not necessary. back to top

 

Why should I buy my casket or cremation container from your funeral home instead of a casket or cremation discount store?
The casket and cremation discount stores do not have a history of longevity in the business. Several people have purchased units from these stores and before they know it, these stores are out of business within a year or so after the purchase. Because of their short lived existance, many people who have purchased products have ended up with no product to have for their respective service. Casket and cremation retail stores also have limited suppliers for merchandise, therefore on some units, they do not carry any liability agreement on units that may have already been purchased by the family. We purchase our fine quality products from reputable casket and cremation companies who have been in the business for many years. Their products all come with a liability warranty attached on each unit. With cost being very important to the consumer, most all funeral homes are able to sell merchandise at a lesser price than a retail store, as they have other income to offset their overhead. back to top

 

If I choose to be cremated, can I have a funeral?
Yes, cremation can take place either before or after a funeral depending on what type of service you choose. You can have a viewing, funeral/memorial service or burial. back to top

 

Why are funerals so expensive?
When compared to other major life cycle events, like births and weddings, funerals are not expensive. A wedding costs at least three times as much; but because it is a happy event, wedding costs are rarely criticized. A funeral home is a 24-hour, labor-intensive business, with extensive facilities (viewing rooms, chapels, limousines, hearses, etc.), these expenses must be factored into the cost of a funeral. Moreover, the cost of a funeral includes not only merchandise, like caskets, but the services of a funeral director in making arrangements; filing appropriate forms; dealing with doctors, ministers, florists, newspapers and others; and seeing to all the necessary details. Contrary to popular belief, funeral homes are largely family-owned with a modest profit margin.

 

 

What recourse does a consumer have for poor service or overcharging?
Funeral service is regulated by the FTC and state licensing boards. In most cases, the consumer should discuss problems with the funeral director first. If the dispute cannot be solved by talking with the funeral director, the consumer may wish to contact the Funeral Service Consumer Assistance Program. FSCAP provides information, mediates disputes, provides arbitration, and maintains a consumer guarantee fund for reimbursement of services rendered. (To contact FSCAP, call 708-827-6337 or 800-662-7666).

 

 

Do funeral directors take advantage of the bereaved?
Funeral directors are caring individuals who help people deal with a very stressful time. They serve the same families 80% of the time, and many have spent most of their lives in the same community. If they took advantage of bereaved families, they could not stay in business. The fact that the average funeral home has been in business over 59 years shows that most funeral directors respect the wishes of the bereaved families.

 

 

Is it right to make a profit from death?
Funeral directors look upon their profession as a service, but it is also a business. Like any business, funeral homes must make a profit to exist. As long as the profit is reasonable and the services rendered are necessary, complete, and satisfactory to the family, profit is legitimate.

 

 

Don't funeral directors mark caskets up tremendously, at least 400%?
No. Talking about the mark up on caskets is really not the point. Most items--clothing, furniture, jewelry--are marked up as much or more than caskets. The real question is whether the funeral director is making an excessive profit, And that answer is "No." Profits run around 12.5% before taxes -- not excessive by any standard.

 

 

Who pays for funerals for the indigent?
Other than the family, there are veteran, union, and other organizational benefits to pay for funerals, including, in certain instances, a lump sum death payment from Social Security. In most states, some form of public aid allowances are available from either the state, county, or city or a combination. Most funeral directors are aware of the various benefits and know how to obtain them for the indigent. However, funeral directors often absorb costs above and beyond what is provided by agencies to insure the deceased a respectable burial. back to top

Life Insurance
We can assist you by notifying companies with whom the deceased was insured, obtaining claim forms and helping to complete them for you. We will need the original insurance policies, name of beneficiary, policy numbers and a certified copy of the death certificate to process the claims. Life insurance benefits may be available from: Whole Life or Term insurance; Group Insurance (Obtained through employment or other organizations); Fraternal and Civic organizations; Credit Card Insurance (acquired in conjunction with mortgages, deeds of trust, major purchases, personal loans); Car Insurance; Homeowners policy (in certain instances) and Government Life Insurance.

Medicare Benefits
All outstanding medical bills receive for a qualified Medicare recipient should be filled. Your local Social Security office can assist you in filing Medicare documents.

Pension and Employee Group Plans
If the deceased participated in a pension plan (such as GE), profit-sharing or stock purchase plan, credit union or donation type plan. We will need to contact his or her employer. Again, we will assist you with this by making telephone calls, any faxing that may be necessary and writing letters on your behalf. Some of the plans include survivor benefits and possible lump-sum death benefits, as well as retirement income.

Health Insurance Plans
If you were covered under the decedent’s group health plan, you will need to inquire whether or not you can remain on that plan or whether you will need to get your own coverage. All medical bills should be submitted as soon as possible for payment. In addition, you should check to see if there is a refund on any premium due to you.

Motor Vehicles
New York State has procedures concerning the transfer of titled vehicles, including cars, motor homes, mobile homes, trailers, boats and motorcycles. Contact the Motor Vehicles Department and they will be able to help you. Generally, you will need the title, registration and insurance card.

Banking
You should be aware that in most cases, once a bank learns of a death through notices or personal contact, all safe deposit boxes of the deceased are sealed and remains sealed until an examiner is present. Unless you are a surviving spouse, all accounts including checking, savings, money market, certificate of deposit, etc., which are in the deceased name ONLY, will need to be accessed by the executor of the estate. In New York State, a surviving spouse can access an account up to a particular dollar limit regardless as to whether the account was held jointly with the surviving spouse can access an account up to a particular dollar limit regardless as to whether the account was held jointly with the surviving spouse or held in the name of the deceased only. Jointly held accounts can be accessed as usual. Confer with the appropriate bank officers regarding outstand loans or other transactions of the decedent. Notify all credit card account companies of the death and cancel all individually held cards of the decedent. You should also apply for all credit care life insurance benefits when applicable.

Taxes
A husband and wife can generally file a joint federal income tax return even if one dies during the year. All the income from jointly owned assets should be included on the return. Income from separately owned assets may or may not be included depending on the circumstances. If an estate account is set up for separately owned property the estate will file its own return.

Generally speaking, except for income earned after the date of death, money and property received from the estate is not taxable to the recipient. If taxable income is paid to someone from an estate, the estate will issue a "Schedule K-1" form telling the recipient of the fact and the amount which must be included on the recipient’s tax return. You attorney or accountant is the best source of information about tax issues.

Thank You Cards
It is appropriate to send thank you cards within a week or two after the service in appreciation for the flowers, food, masses, donations to charity or other acts of kindness. Sympathy cards or calls made at your home or at the funeral home do not usually require a formal response. Pallbearers should be thanked for their special service. We will provide you with personalized thank you cards of your choice.
back to top