Our Family Caring For Yours
Frequently Asked Questions About Burial and Cremation
Frequently Asked Questions About Burial and Cremation
There are always many questions that you are faced with when planning a funeral. The questions below are most frequently asked about Burial and Cremation. Scroll through, if your question doesn’t come up below please call us at (585) 720-6000. We will be happy to provide an answer.
First is the purchase price of the “right to use” the burial plot (unlike a real estate purchase, where you buy the land and all the structures on it; here you are only purchasing what is called the “interment rights” to the land). In addition, there are fees for the “opening” and “closing” of the gravesite; and any fees required to obtain the necessary permits and to maintain cemetery files and records. In addition, there’s the fee for the use of any special equipment (such as a casket-lowering device); as well as the costs for any other services or items purchased. There’s also the headstone or grave marker installation fee, and a one-time “perpetual care” (sometimes called “endowment care”) fee paid to ensure your loved one’s burial site is well-maintained.
This is a question we hear a lot. Many funeral homes suggest (and may even go so far as to require) embalming if you’re planning a viewing or visitation. That’s because they want the experience to be as good as it can be for those in attendance, and proper embalming can ensure the deceased looks as good as possible. But as a general rule, embalming is not necessary or legally required if the body is cared for in a relatively short amount of time. Please contact us for specific state or local requirements.
The Federal Trade Commission states that average casket costs around $2,000. If you are concerned about casket costs, speak with your funeral director who can advise you on the most appropriate casket for your situation and your budget.
Today, modern cemetery grounds are well-groomed, with vast expanses of green grass. A burial vault protects this pristine view, ensuring there is no sign of burial plots “settling”. Certainly the vault also protects the casket; but the primary role of a burial vault is to protect the beauty of the cemetery environment.
If your loved one has not made previous arrangements for their burial, leaving you to pick the location of their interment, the first thing you’ll need to do involves the selection of the cemetery and burial location within the grounds. You’ll also choose the most suitable casket and burial vault, and provide us with the clothing you’d like your loved one to wear (and any ‘special items’ you’d like us to place in the casket) . Once payment is made, the date and time of interment is agreed upon. At that time, the cemetery grounds keepers will take care of the “opening” and “closing” of the grave and the proper placement of the casket in the burial vault.
The cemetery will put a temporary identification marker on your loved one’s grave, but it is only intended as a placeholder until a permanent headstone or grave marker is set in place. Without one, your loved one’s burial site will, when this temporary marker becomes illegible or is somehow removed, appear “unmarked”.
We, and the cemetery where your loved one will be interred, have strong working relationships with trusted monument companies. When you are ready to order a granite headstone or bronze grave marker, we will come together to orchestrate its selection, manufacture and placement. Speak with your funeral director to get the details.
When we make arrangements for the direct burial of an individual, we are expediting their interment. There will be no funeral, memorial service or celebration-of-life; instead, we provide the physical care of the deceased (perhaps embalming their body, but certainly dressing and casketing) and then escort the casket to the cemetery for immediate burial.
It’s very hard to know without having the opportunity to speak with you. Direct burial works well when there are few mourners or if your loved one’s wishes were for a simple interment. It’s done quickly and professionally, without ceremony of any kind. With that said, what do you think? Does direct burial feel like the right course of action for you? Speak with a funeral professional to further explore the idea.
Your funeral director will complete and file the death certificate, obtain signatures on any required permits or authorizations, helps you select a cemetery in which to inter your loved one, as well as a casket and burial vault. He or she will oversee the physical care of the deceased: they will be dressed in clothes you’ve provided (or purchased from us), casketed, and then escorted to the cemetery for immediate burial. This same individual will witness the burial and provide you with copies of all pertinent papers for safekeeping.
Rather than having a service in a church or funeral home chapel, and then adjourning to the cemetery for the burial; some families choose to gather solely at the cemetery. There, they are led through a ceremony prepared by a clergy person or celebrant and witness the in-ground committal of their loved one’s casket. If the idea of a graveside service appeals to you, speak with your funeral director about your options.
Some of the things you’ll discuss with your funeral director involve purchases made from outside vendors, and you will be asked to pay for those items at the time of the arrangement conference. One of the most common is the fee charged by a newspaper to print your loved one’s obituary. Another cash advance charge could be for clergy or musician’s fees, floral arrangements, reception necessities, such as food/beverage or facility rental. Your funeral director will provide you with a detailed invoice for all cash advance items.
The exact answer to this question largely depends upon the services, products and cemetery you’ve selected; but a good rule of thumb is to expect to pay at the time the service contract is signed (at the time of the arrangement conference, or soon afterwards). Speak with your funeral director to learn more.
We’re tempted to answer this with another question: who would you like to write it? Perhaps you’d like to ask a friend or family member to do so; maybe you’re thinking it’s something you would like to do. Or perhaps you’d rather turn the duty over to your funeral director. He or she is experienced in obituary writing, and would be delighted to relieve you of the task; so don’t hesitate to ask them to craft a suitable obituary.
We don’t like to use the word “should” when we speak to families about this issue. So the question becomes one of assessing your heart’s desire: what do you really want? Then there’s the question of your deceased loved one’s wishes; exactly what would he or she think or feel? Most commonly we advise families to offer their community as many caring options as possible; some will send flowers, some will send donations; and some will even do both.
Unlike burial, cremation is irreversible. This requires us to be “extra diligent” in obtaining cremation authorization from the legally identified next-of-kin, as well as those from any necessary agencies (such as the medical examiner). During these 48-72 hours (depending on state mandated requirements); the deceased will be held in a secure, refrigerated environment.
When you enter into a discussion with us about the cost of your loved one’s cremation, whether on the phone or in-person, we are legally obligated to share our General Price List, or GPL, with you. That list details the actual cost of our cremation services, which is a combination of our basic professional services fee, the fee charged by the crematory for the use of their facilities, and any additional charges related to the transportation and safekeeping of the deceased prior to the cremation. It is impossible for us to quote an accurate cost for cremation here; we urge you to speak candidly about cremation costs with your funeral professional.
The answer to this question is dependent on the specific crematory responsible for the care of your loved one, but generally speaking, the answer to this question is “yes”. The degree to which you can participate may differ from crematory to crematory (depending on their facilities); please speak with your funeral director if this is an issue for you, or another family member.
The FTC’s Funeral Rule guides funeral directors in the ethical and fair presentation of funeral service options. The purchase of a cremation urn (or a casket, for that matter) from a second or third party sources is one of the rights it guarantees. Your funeral director cannot prevent you from, nor can they charge you an extra fee for, the purchase of a third-party cremation urn. And they cannot demand you are present for its delivery to the funeral home.
Again, as we’ve said elsewhere, the word “should” need not be part of our conversation. There are many things you can do with their ashes–including simply taking them home with you for safekeeping. There may come a time when you know exactly what you’d like to do with them, but it may not be right now. Be patient; the right way to care for them will surface in time. After all, there are a lot of options: scattering them on land or sea is one of the most common; but you can also use the cremated remains in keepsake jewelry or to create meaningful pieces of art. As we said, there is no have-to-do; there’s only a want-to-do (and you are in complete control of it). If you’re curious about your options, just give us a call. We’ll share what we know.
The short answer is “no”, but there are exceptions. Let’s say you want to have a viewing or visitation. If that’s the case, it may be prudent to embalm your loved one, so they look their best for the event; so much so that the funeral home may require that you purchase the service. However, with that said, under the FTC’s Funeral Rule, we cannot: provide embalming services without your permission, and may not lead you to believe embalming is required by law. In addition, we must provide you with written disclosures related to the embalming of your loved one.
Naturally, this question is best answered when we talk specifics: why type of cremator will be used? How large an individual was your loved one? Usually it takes 2 – 2 1/2 hours for the process. A cool-down period follows, and then the cremated remains are processed for a uniform appearance. Certainly, if the issue is important to you, we urge you to speak to your funeral director.
Most cremators use natural or L.P. gas, or in some cases diesel oil; a fact which troubles some who want to see cremation as an “environmentally-friendly” alternative to burial. If you’re concerned about the impact of cremation on the environment, speak with your funeral director. There are alternatives, such as burial in a “green” or environmentally-pristine cemetery.
You’d be surprised how often we hear this question! Some people might choose to be undressed so as to ‘go out’ the same way they ‘came in’ to the world; but most of the time, the deceased is dressed in the clothing they’ve selected prior to their death, or chosen by family members after their passing.
It depends upon what you mean as “special”, but we do our best to accommodate the wishes of surviving family members. Most commonly, families will ask to place notes, children’s drawings, or other personal messages of love; but we’ve certainly had some unusual requests (such as the inclusion of a cherished pet’s collar or treasured keepsake). We encourage you to speak with your funeral director to learn the regulations of the specific crematory responsible for your loved one’s cremation.
Certainly not; cremation merely describes the type of physical end-of-life care you intend to provide your loved one. A commemoration service is for the living; the individuals emotionally impacted by the death deserve the same level of compassionate attention. And one of the benefits of cremation comes from the larger “window-of-opportunity” in which to plan a meaningful celebration-of-life it provides the surviving family members. Your funeral professional can guide you in making all the necessary service arrangements.
Think of the Taj Mahal in India and you’ll know exactly what a mausoleum is: it’s free-standing building (in this case not in India but on the grounds of a local cemetery), which is intended as both a monument as well as the burial location for casketed individuals. A columbarium is the same in purpose, but not in design; instead of crypt spaces large enough for a full-size casket; it features smaller niche spaces, large enough for one (or maybe two) cremation urns.
We would never presume to tell you which service is best for your loved one. But your funeral director will be pleased to guide and advise; explain the differences between service formats (traditional funeral, memorial service and celebration-of-life), and share stories of meaningful services they’ve been a part of–all with the intention of empowering you to make the decision for yourselves.
When you enter into a discussion with us about the cost of your loved one’s cremation, whether on the phone or in-person, we are legally obligated to share our General Price List, or GPL, with you. That list details the actual cost of our cremation services, which is a combination of our basic professional services fee, the fee charged by the crematory for the use of their facilities, and any additional charges related to the transportation and safekeeping of the deceased prior to the cremation.
It’s difficult for us to answer this question without knowing the specifics of your proposed cremation arrangements. Yet with that said we can tell you there will most likely be extra charges for anything that involves a second-party purchase (such as the publication of your loved one’s obituary in a local newspaper). If you select a decorative cremation urn and would like to personalize it with an engraved nameplate; there could be a small fee.
When you arrive to make the necessary cremation service arrangements on behalf of a loved one, we will furnish you with a copy of our General Price List; a section of which discloses the exact price (or a good-faith estimate) of the most commonly-requested “cash advance items”. Cornell University Law School’s Legal Information Institute (www.law.cornell.edu) defines a “cash advance item” as “any item of service or merchandise…obtained from a third party and paid for by the funeral provider on the purchaser’s behalf. Cash advance items may include, but are not limited to: cemetery or crematory services; pallbearers; public transportation; clergy honoraria; flowers; musicians or singers; nurses; obituary notices; gratuities and death certificates.”
The answer to this is simple: we have to pay for these second-party services or merchandise at the time we make the purchase on your behalf. This requires us to ask for payment for all cash advance items at the time the cremation service contract is agreed to, and signed by the responsible family member. For more specific information about our payment policies, please call us to speak with a member of our staff of cremation service professionals.
Yes, you can. The burial can be in-ground, or your loved one’s cremation urn can be placed in a columbarium niche. Speak with your funeral director to learn more about your specific cremation burial options.
You’ll need to provide the documents/information required to complete your loved one’s death certificate and obituary. If you are planning to have a service, you may also wish to bring in a collection of family photographs to be used in making a tribute video or in the decoration of the service location. Other items may be needed at some point, depending on the arrangements made. Your funeral director will provide you with an exact list of the things he or should would like you to bring along to the arrangement conference.
Of course you can; in fact any member of your family (or even a close friend) can “step up” to take care of this task. There are many valuable resources available in the Guidance section of this website, including tips on writing an obituary. And you can always turn to us for assistance.
Flowers have provided welcome solace and added beauty to services for generations. Yet, today you commonly see the phrase “in lieu of flowers” in print or online obituaries; so it’s natural to ask what you should do in such cases. The phrase isn’t a directive (“do not send flowers”); it’s more of a suggested alternative (“if you don’t think flowers are appropriate, you can make a donation to a charitable organization”). We believe everyone should follow their heart’s lead when it comes to expressing sympathy, and always try not to limit their options in any way. However, if you strongly feel flowers are unwelcome, then be direct: “please do not send flowers”.