Frequently Asked Questions

Depending on where the death occurs will depend on how long the process will take. Under normal circumstance of natural death in the continental US, shipment usually occurs within 3 -10 days If a death occurs abroad, this process may take a few weeks, or even longer, depending on in which country the death occurred. However, the funeral home will do everything possible to expedite the process.

Your personal requirements and preferences might make the cost higher than average or lower. The total cost of a funeral is determined by three main considerations: selecting your services, considering everything that makes your service unique, and the advantages of preplanning. However the average cost of a funeral according to a recent survey is $7,323 for an adult funeral. This includes a professional service charge, transfer of remains, embalming, other preparation, use of viewing facilities, use of facilities for ceremony, hearse, casket, vault and basic memorial package Cemetery, monument and other cash advance charges are in addition.

Upon death, dependents and survivors may be eligible for certain benefits such as Death Payments, Survivor’s Benefits and Medicare. Qualifications depend on age, marital status, number of dependents involved and if employment was under Social Security. Your Social Security account should be verified periodically to be sure contributions are properly posted. All benefits must be applied for; payment is not automatic. Since qualifications vary, we recommend discussing your particular situation with us personally.

There are many misconceptions regarding Veterans’ death benefits. Honorably discharged veterans may qualify for cemetery plot and burial allowances, headstone, and burial flag, as well as a pension for survivors. These benefits may affect decisions about funeral arrangements. Because qualifications and benefits vary, we recommend a personal review of your situation.

The cost of a grave marker varies depending on the size, materials used and the amount of detail involved. If the remains are to be cremated, is embalming required? Embalming is not required if you select a cremation service without a public viewing/visitation; And it may depend on the interval between death and cremation and/or the need to hold remains for a prolonged period of time.

Though not required by law in all states, many cemeteries do require an outside container such as a burial vault. Check with the funeral director for details in your area. Is cremation an option for Catholics?

The Vatican now permits funerals in the United States to have Masses with cremated remains present in a “worthy vessel” placed on a table and must be covered with a pall. Words said in a blessing or dismissal are changed from “body” to “earthly remains.”

Embalming is required if there is going to be a public viewing. However, even in cases where no viewing is planned, most states require embalming when death was caused by a reportable contagious disease or when transferring of the deceased occurs from one state to another. Also, in a few states, if the final disposition is not determined within 48 hours after the death, then the funeral director may determine to embalm the body using their discretion.

Though not a requirement, you may wish to invest in a funeral trust account or final expense insurance policy when making funeral arrangements. While most of us have life insurance or funds reserved for retirement, these are intended for the living, not to meet the cost of a funeral. In most situations, funds invested today will be sufficient to cover the total cost of the funeral at time of need. The interest earned by the account or policy will help to offset the effects of inflation. Government regulations safeguard your investment so that funds will always be available for your family’s use. Our funeral home will guarantee costs for professional services and merchandise on a pre-paid funeral trust, however cash advances cannot be guaranteed. We suggest an allowance be made for these advances. If allowances exceed the costs, then funds are returned; if they fall short then additional funds may be due.

It is defined as the preservation, disinfection, and restoration of the body. In many cases, embalming restores the deceased’s appearance to one reflective of how they appeared in life.

Funeral directors as licensed by the Commonwealth of Pa., serve as administrators and care givers. They make all the arrangements for the care of the deceased, see that the choices of the family regarding the funeral and final disposition of the remains are followed through, and complete all of the necessary paperwork. As care givers, they are available to the family and friends as listeners, advisors, and supporters. With their experience serving others, they have the knowledge necessary to answer questions about most phases that families experience. They can give basic information about insurance, estate and issues of grief; and can recommend other professional help if needed.

All arrangements for services including financial decisions.

If a family member dies while outside the United States, the U.S. Embassy will come to your assistance. An Embassy official in the country where the death occurred will be contacted, and he or she will contact the State Department in Washington, D.C., to notify next of kin

You can be assured your funds are protected by state and federal regulations regardless of the operation at the funeral home. However, the funeral home should have a long-standing reputation and be committed to continuing to serve the many families who have placed their trust in them.

When a person dies while serving in the Armed Forces, the U.S. Government will prepare and casket the body, pay transfer costs to return the body to the place of burial, and provide many other benefits, including an escort, a uniform and flag, plus an allowance to help with funeral and burial services. The funeral home can coordinate directly with the government, and also advise you about any allowance due you. Members of the armed forces and their spouse are entitled to burial in a cemetery owned and operated by the federal government.

If you are traveling or visiting another city when death occurs, your survivors should contact the hometown funeral home immediately. Your funeral director will make the necessary arrangements with a funeral home in that location to assist with transfer.

The function of a burial vault is to serve as a foundation for the grave and protect the casketed body from the earth’s elements. As time goes on, the ground settles over a grave. A burial vault will serve two purposes, to protect the integrity of the casket and to prevent the ground from settling and sinking. A vault also protects the ground from settling due to the great weight and impact of heavy cemetery maintenance equipment passing over the grave. The burial vault is one of the strongest, most lasting means of protection and long term security.

A committal service commends the body of the deceased to the gravesite, crypt or columbarium niche and a prayer may be said at the grave at the conclusion of the funeral.

A graveside service is a service held at the site of burial. In most cases, the casket or urn is present. Friends and family gather for the service, a eulogy may be delivered and the service is concluded with a committal.

A memorial service is a service where there are no casketed remains, but in some cases an urn may be present. Memorial services are usually held in the funeral home or a church, but can also be arranged at a location meaningful to the family.

Scattering of cremated remains can represent a permanent oneness with an important place. Scattering in a river, lake or at sea, over mountains, farms, even golf courses is not uncommon provided a permit can be secured. Scattering is regulated by state law. Some funeral homes can coordinate the scattering and advise you of any local ordinances prohibiting scattering. Many cemeteries offer “scattering gardens” with the added benefit of memorialization. A scattering urn is especially designed to hold the cremated remains until the scattering ceremony and as a memento or keepsake afterwards. Be sure to consult your clergy as some religions will permit cremation but not allow scattering.

There is no cost to pre-plan a funeral.

Large corporations answer to shareholders. In a family-owned company, there is no pressure from the corporate headquarters to increase profits. Generally family-owned firms have lived in the community for years. On the other hand, the staff and management assigned to a funeral home by a national company may be from another area. And that can create a lack of awareness and sometimes disappointment when expectations are not met.

Most often the cremated remains are present during the service in an urn. Urns come in many styles and reflect varied artistic forms. With so many to choose from, families can find something; reflective of their lifestyle, faith or beliefs. Because the urn is an attractive art form, it is not uncommon for a family member or friend to retain the cremated remains as a cherished possession. But for many, a permanent placement at another location is more appropriate. Urn selection is often based on the needs and beliefs of the family and their plans for final disposition.

The money paid when pre-planning a funeral is held in one of two places. In many cases a trust is set up at a bank, either in the individuals name or in some states, in the name of the funeral home, with the individual designated as a sub-account. The second option is for the family to purchase an insurance policy specific to the exact cost of the funeral expenses. This policy is typically a “Limited pay, increasing death benefit, whole life,” policy. There are specific benefits to each of these funding vehicle options. Your funeral director can provide you with more details. In either case, a death certificate must be presented in order for the funds to be released to the funeral home.

*These options vary by state.

When death occurs away from home, the funeral home serves as both your advisor and agent, working with other professionals long-distance, and coordinating the many services required.

An individual’s choice of burial over cremation is often based on family traditions and/or family beliefs. Often times, this choice is directly related to one’s religion and economic circumstance.

When asked, the most often given reason by consumers for pre-paying funeral expenses is the peace of mind in knowing family members will not be inconvenienced with funeral costs at an already difficult time. It is impossible to project the cost of a funeral in the future, and sometimes the actual cost at the time of death may exceed the amount set aside. When this occurs, the funeral home will offer surviving family members the option of paying the difference, or selecting low priced merchandise such as a casket, vault, flowers, etc.

Now more than ever, it is important to plan ahead. Our way of life is more complicated. Family members often live in different states, dealing with government agencies can be frustrating, and the impact of inflation is felt by every household. Family members making funeral arrangements immediately following a death often are confused and upset. Many times, they do not have the information needed to claim benefits. Each year millions of dollars in government and insurance benefits go unclaimed. Planning ahead prevents emotional overspending and protects your family’s interests.