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Industry Insights

Here you will find valuable insights from experts in the funeral industry. From monument designers and estate planners to lawyers and funeral directors, FSN Funeral Homes has the information you need.
Recent Industry Insights Articles

Average Cost of Moving a Grave?

September 16th, 2014

FSN Funeral Homes,

What is the average cost to move a grave from one cemetery to a different cemetery?

Thanks,

Chaz

_Granite

Wow, Chaz. That’s quite the question.

Short answer, you would be looking at anywhere from $8,000 – $20,000, possibly more, depending on a variety of factors. Let me go into some detail for you.

Exhumation Costs

  1. Depending on state regulations, you may need to have a funeral director present at the exhumation. $1000 or more.
  2. You may need state permits. Cost varies state-to-state.
  3. If the body is recently buried in a vault or metal coffin $3000 – $5000 for the exhumation itself.
  4. If not in the ideal scenario described above expect to pay more and receive less. The body may already be one with the earth or just bits of a skeleton.
  5. Expect to pay for disposal of the previous casket. It held biological remains, so it is probably considered hazardous.

Re-Interment Costs

  1. Transportation. If it’s close by, the remains could be transported by hearse. That shouldn’t be too expensive. If not, you would most likely transport via container truck and the cost could be considerably higher.
  2. If moving to a new state, regulations apply.
  3. You’ll have to buy a new plot, new headstone and (probably) new casket. The only way to avoid the new casket is if the remains were buried in a vault and the exhumation company was able to extract it in one piece. Then the entire vault could be re-buried at the new location if state regulations allow.
  4. Again, you may need a funeral director present for the burial. Start at $1000.
  5. Lastly, you may want to hold a service for the deceased. There will probably be a cost for that as well.

All told, it is an expensive process, but if having your loved one’s remains close by is important to you, it is more than worth the cost.

Thanks,

Ed

Finding Beauty in Death: Recapturing the Living Spark

July 11th, 2013

When attending a funeral or visitation, it is not unusual to hear comments whispered around the body such as, “She looks really good,” or “He appears so natural.” Often, a funeral home’s reputation is made or lost based on nothing more than how the body is presented. So who performs this all-important service?

Arlington National CemeteryThe Mortician

Most funeral homes do not employ an individual whose only job is funeral cosmetology. The hair and make-up, as well as the clothes and overall presentation of the deceased, is most often put together by the same person who performs the embalming procedure, frequently the mortician or Funeral Director.

That is not to say that these men and women have not been extensively trained. On the contrary, funeral cosmetology is a skill that is often required as part of a mortuary science degree. However, recapturing the spark of life is more akin to art than science.

The Heart of a Poet

Heart of a PoetIt takes a special kind of person to be a mortician. I once asked a friend of mine if it was difficult for him to prepare the bodies of those he knew well or was close to in life. He told me that the opposite was true. He viewed it as an opportunity to honor the memory of the person he once knew. Yes, he would feel grief at their passing, but it afforded him a private moment to say goodbye, a chance to ensure that they received the best care possible and it allowed him one more opportunity to show them the love and respect they so richly deserved.

His response always seemed poetic to me, rife with meaning and beauty. And yet I knew that I would struggle to successfully view the situation in that same light. He does a job I could not do, and does it with an outlook I could not maintain.

So next time you are impressed with the way a loved one is presented, make sure to let the Funeral Director know how much you appreciate his work. They perform their duties with honor and respect, and they deserve no less from us.

Grief Therapy Dog: A New Kind of Funeral Home Employee

July 9th, 2013

Grief is a constant client for the proprietors of a funeral home. As such, each and every staff member is thoroughly trained and kept as prepared as possible to deal with it in all its many forms. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise to learn that many funeral homes employ a grief counselor or have one on retainer, but what you may not know is that more and more funeral directors have seen fit to hire some additional help in the grief counseling arena. For a growing number of funeral homes, grief therapy just isn’t complete without a grief therapy dog!

Grief Therapy Dog?Hug

That’s right, a grief therapy dog. This is a dog that acts as another employee, greeting and comforting clients in their time of need. Some have said that once it’s been on the job a few months, a grief therapy dog becomes intuitive about who wants the attention and who does not. Even going so far as to seek out someone that is most in need of its services!

So why is this effective? Scientists have proven that petting animals will reduce stress, lower blood pressure and a University of Missouri-Columbia researcher concluded in 2004 that it will even create a hormonal response that raises serotonin levels which help fight depression!

Because basic interactions with a dog have such profound benefits, dogs come naturally to the role of grief therapist. Some of these dogs are true professionals and have undergone extensive training while others simply fall into the role. Either way, the benefit to the humans they comfort are the same.

Training

Playtime

The problem, of course, lies in the fact that some people don’t like dogs and therefore aren’t interested in any amount of attention from one. This is where training becomes a factor. Grief therapy dogs are respectful of client’s wishes and are trained only to approach if they are solicited. They do not jump up, get rambunctious or get overly excited. A good grief therapy dog is very reserved, accepting of attention but not demanding it and not only willing but happy about going to work.

And it does know it’s going to work. Most grief therapy dogs double as a house pet to one of the funeral home employees, and they invariably say that when the therapy vest comes out, the dog understands what is expected of it and acts accordingly. As much as any other employee in the office, these dogs are professionals.

Grief therapy dogs are a proven benefit and offer love, attention and care to those clients most in need of comfort. They are not only valued employees, but beloved pets. If you are interested in acquiring a grief therapy dog, you should contact your local AKC certified trainers and see if they would be able to help you. Any trainer should be able to help once they understand the behaviors you are looking for.

Not every dog is cut out to be a grief therapy dog. Just as you’d hire any other position in your office, you look for the right attitude and the right fit. However, once you find the right dog, you’ll never understand how you got along without it.

 

Sympathy Gifts: Another Way to Offer Condolences

July 3rd, 2013

One of the hardest things to do in life is console a friend or loved one who has lost someone important to them. It’s hard to know what to say, how to say it or even if you should say anything at all. In a time of intense grief, heartfelt words can fall on deaf ears or be misconstrued. And sometimes words just aren’t enough to convey your genuine love and support.

God's Hand AngelSympathy Gifts

When a quick hug and a softly whispered, “I’m sorry,” feel too small, you might consider a sympathy gift to accompany them. The giving of gifts in a time of grief is a long-held tradition that spans all cultures and creeds. Always appropriate, the sympathy gift provides your loved one with a carefully selected item that will last beyond the neighborly bucket of fried chicken or tuna casserole. It is a keepsake that the bereaved can cherish for the rest of their lives.

Where Can I Find a Sympathy Gift?

The elegant grace of a sympathy gift can be just the salve your loved one needs to help get them through an especially tough day. If you are in need of a sympathy gift and are unsure of where to find one, you should visit Celebrating Home, an online store that offers a wide variety of inspirational and sympathy items to help your loved one through a difficult time.

The men and women at Celebrating Home have worked hard to provide a large selection of home decor items. They have high quality products and a user-friendly website, as well as a delightful and friendly staff if you need to speak to someone about your purchase. And they don’t just offer sympathy items. Celebrating Home has many home decor options that could be used in your own home or as gifts for any occasion!

What Kind of Sympathy Gift Should I Give?

The key is to be thoughtful when choosing what you will proffer. You know your loved one well, try and think of something that has given them comfort in the past. The gift can be religious in nature, such as an angel figurine or a plaque containing scripture, or it can be something to commemorate the one they lost, a picture frame displaying a portrait of the deceased or perhaps depicting a scene or place to remind them of good times with the one who has passed. You can even give some item of decoration that will remind them of the love and joy of the one they lost. There are no right or wrong answers, as with any gift it is the thought behind it that gives it meaning.

When is it Appropriate?

The Lord is My Shepherd

Sympathy gifts can be given before, during or after the funeral, and they can even be given on the anniversary of the death or any time your friend is in need of comfort. The specific “when” is not as important as the “how.” If at all possible, a sympathy gift should be given in person and accompanied by a card, preferably including a hand-written note. The purpose of the gift is not to replace your personal offers of support but to enhance them. If hand delivery is not possible, a phone call after the gift has been received would be ideal.

The purchasing of a sympathy gift does not have to be difficult. Visit Celebrating Home and find the perfect item for your loved one in their time of need. When you are not sure what else to say, a sympathy gift always has the right words.

 

 

Can I Bury My Grandmother’s Ashes With Her Parents in Fajardo, Puerto Rico?

March 30th, 2013

Ask The Funeral Expert:

My grandmother was born and raised in fajardo and her parents have been buried together in a plot together I would like to bury her with them. She will be cremated but I don’t know which cemetery and the rules to do her final wishes. Maria

FSN Funeral Expert Reply:

Maria,

The first step would be to find the cemetery. I recommend contacting the mayor’s office in Fajardo. Ask them if they can give you the name and contact information for the cemeteries located in Fajardo.

Here is the contact information for the Fajardo Mayor’s office:

Mayor: Hon. Aníbal Meléndez-Rivera
City Hall, 6 Luis Muñóz Rivera St.,
Corner of Dr. López St.,
Fajardo, Puerto Rico 00738-0865
Phone number: (787) 863-4013
Contact: Mrs. Olga I. Galindo

Once you have located the cemetery, the sexton should be able to tell you if they allow ashes (cremains) to be buried on top of existing graves.

If the cemetery allows for double burial, the funeral home providing the cremation services should be able to help you arrange transportation of the ashes to Puerto Rico. If you are taking the ashes to Puerto Rico yourself, you will need to contact the airlines you will use and find out their requirements. Normally, the airlines will treat the cremains the same way they would a carry-on bag. You will also need to contact the TSA to determine what type of cremation container is acceptable to them. Most funerals homes will be able to guide you through the complete process.

Why Life Insurance is Important When Planning A Funeral

March 6th, 2013

At some point, everyone has to sit down and discuss the need for life insurance. Yes, it seems overwhelming, but obtaining life insurance is a necessary step in preparing your family for life without you. This is especially true when dealing with the financial aspect of planning a funeral.

FSN Funeral Home understands that deciding what type of life insurance you need and why it is important can be somewhat confusing. So, we reached out to Gary DeSha from Gary DeSha Insurance who was able to help with questions concerning life insurance. We hope this interview is informative and answers some questions you may have concerning life insurance.

What You Need To Know About Life Insurance and Funeral Planning

FSN Funeral Homes:  When it comes to funeral planning, why is life insurance so important?

Gary DeSha: All of us will likely have to face the death of a close family member at some time in our lives. Perhaps you already have – and the painful memories are still there. In addition to grieving the loss and settling your loved one’s estate, there is also the immediate concern over funeral costs and how to pay for them. It’s a heavy weight to carry for surviving loved ones. Many of us never think about how our family will pay for our funeral.

The cost may surprise you. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost of a funeral in 2006 was $7,323 and that was seven years ago. This cost did not include the cemetery plot, monument, flowers, obituary or other cash expenses, which could push the cost well over $10,000.

Why burden your family with these costs at a time when they already have many other concerns? With whole life insurance, you can help reduce the worry your family will experience when you die. The life insurance policy assures that money will be in place for your family’s needs.

FSN Funeral Homes: So, exactly what are the different types of life insurance that can help cover these costs?

Gary DeSha: There are three types of plans, one that immediately provides a full death benefit and two that provide a limited death benefit in the first two years. Plan type is based on the answers provided on the insurance application. The three plans are as follows:

  • PlanRight with a Level Death Benefit – The death benefit equals 100% of the face amount. A maximum face amount of $35,000 is available, depending on your age at the time of application.
  • PlanRight with a Graded Death Benefit – The death benefit is limited to 30% of the face amount in the first year, 70% in the second year and 100% beginning with the third year. A maximum face amount of $20,000 is available, depending on your age at time of application.
  • PlanRight with a Modified Death Benefit – The death benefit is limited in the first two years to a return of premiums paid, plus 10% of annual interest. In the third year, the benefit equals 100% of the face amount. A maximum face amount of $15,000 is available, depending on your age at the time of application.

The accidental death rider can be added, at an extra cost, on PlanRight certificates with a level death benefit. The rider pays an additional death benefit if an accidental death occurs. For graded and modified plans, 100% of the face amount is paid if accidental death occurs in the first two years. There is no additional premium for this coverage. All PlanRight certificates include a common carrier accidental death rider that pays an additional death benefit (up to twice the face amount) with no additional premium, if the insured dies due to an accidental bodily injury that occurs on a common carrier. However, the insured must be a fare paying passenger.

FSN Funeral Homes: With so many different types of insurance, how does one know which type is right for them to ensure they receive the best coverage?

Gary DeSha: Find a policy with guaranteed premiums. PlanRight premiums are level and guaranteed. Unlike some other expenses in life, PlanRight premiums remain the same for as long as you keep the coverage current. Secondly, make sure your policy’s benefits are guaranteed. With PlanRight, your death benefit is guaranteed as long as premiums are paid. While your coverage is in effect, the policy will never be cancelled because of changes in your health. Thirdly, make sure you can access the cash value. In times of need, PlanRight allows you to borrow or use the cash value of the policy as collateral for a loan. Lastly, there are tax advantages to owning a policy like this. One advantage is your beneficiary will generally not owe any income taxes on the benefit proceeds.

FSN Funeral Homes: Along with there being different types of insurance, people can also determine their coverage. So, how does one even know how much coverage they need that includes funeral arrangements?

Gary DeSha: According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost of a funeral in 2006 was $7,323. As stated above, this cost does not include the cemetery plot, monument, flowers, obituary or other cash expenses. What if your loved one dies out of the country or out of state? The costs incurred in transporting the remains back home for the funeral could run several thousand dollars. You don’t want to plan for the worst, but on the flip side, you don’t want to be caught with unexpected expenses either. So check with your local funeral home to get an idea of the current costs associated with a funeral. Once you have an idea of what the funeral would cost, you can then determine what life insurance amount you will need.

FSN Funeral Homes:  Lastly, when do you recommend that life insurance be purchased?

Gary DeSha: You may purchase life insurance at any age. If you’re single, your parents or siblings will not have to deplete their savings to take care of your final expenses. If you’re married, your family depends on you to provide a comfortable, safe lifestyle. You need help to protect that lifestyle. Contact an agent that offers a wide range of products that can meet your insurance needs. Many policies offer more than a death benefit. Some have optional accident or disability income insurance which will provide regular monthly income if you become totally disabled and unable to work as a result of an accident. Other policies offer accumulating cash value that can be used at retirement. Foresters, for example, offers an optional family health benefit to aid with unexpected hospital costs in the event of a natural disaster.

We may not want to think about life without us, but it is inevitable. Funeral planning and life insurance are the best way to provide for your loved ones’ needs after you are gone. You should be able to take the information Mr. DeSha provided and discuss your needs with both your insurance agent and your funeral home.

The key takeaways here are:

  1. Life insurance is very important when planning a funeral.
  2. Find a policy with guaranteed premiums.
  3. Check with your local funeral home on costs of a funeral. Once you have an estimated cost, you’ll have an idea of the amount of life insurance you need.

Gary DeSha is an independent insurance agent in Alexandria, MN. Over the years, Mr. DeSha has helped many families in Minnesota plan for their financial future. Gary DeSha Insurance is located at 2109 Lake Park Place, Alexandria, MN.

Locally-owned or Corporate Funeral Home?

October 5th, 2012

Often knowing where to begin is the most challenging aspect of funeral planning. When choosing what funeral home to use, there are many factors to consider. The first of which is whether to use a locally-owned funeral home versus a corporate funeral home. Each have their advantages, yet the overall approach and guidance may be different.

To understand the advantages of using a locally/family-owned funeral home, FSN Funeral Homes spoke to Larry Don Graves, owner of Sam Houston Memorial Funeral Homes in Huntsville, TX. Mr. Graves gives us great insight into the benefits of using a locally-owned funeral home.

Larry Graves - Funeral Director of Sam Houston Memorial Funeral HomeFSN Funeral Homes: What is the most significant advantage of using a locally/family-owned funeral home over a corporate funeral home?

Larry Don Graves: ”A family owned funeral home’s major desire is always about the service and care given to the family. We focus on catering to the specific needs and wants of the deceased and their family because we are not just a business and they are not just our customers. They are part of our community and part of our daily lives. In fact, most  mom and pop-owned funeral homes, have a strong sense of community — often giving back to that community in a variety of ways. Corporate-owned funeral homes often do not have this same in-depth connection with the local community.”

FSN Funeral Homes: As a family-owned funeral home what is your approach or relationship with local families?

Continue reading “Locally-owned or Corporate Funeral Home?” »

Types of Funeral Service Providers

September 7th, 2011

Funeral service providers are not all created the same and do not always offer the same services you might be expecting. When planning a funeral, you don’t always have a lot of time to make arrangements – so, learning the ins and outs of funeral planning ahead of time can help for when the time is necessary.

Funeral Home OptionsThere are three categories of funeral providers to choose from.

  • Full Service Providers
  • Specialized Service Providers
  • Limited Service Providers

Full-Service Funeral Providers

Full service providers offer the most options and services when it comes to funeral planning. They can fulfill any service request at any time. The services available are:

  1. Facilities for people to gather in for visitations and ceremonies.
  2. Vehicles such as a hearse and limousines for funeral processions.
  3. A large range of caskets, urns and other funeral service merchandise.

Keep in mind – that when using Full Service funeral home they often don’t offer simplified services with the same attention to detail as they would for a more elaborate full service ceremony.

 Specialized Service Providers

Specialized service providers offer similar service options as the full service funeral homes do but on a more limited basis. The services are:

  1. Facilities for people to gather in for visitations. Typically they are smaller than the full-service providers buildings – and only have one or two rooms for services and ceremonies.
  2. Vehicles may or may not be provided, and hours of operation may be shorter.
  3. Small range of funeral merchandise, including caskets and urns. They are typically in a building similar to doctors office in appearance.

Limited Service Providers

Limited service providers usually arrange direct cremation and burials without ceremonies.

  1. The services they offer are usually limited when it comes to completion of documentation and transferring the deceased to the crematory or cemetery.
  2. Merchandise choice is very limited.

Make sure that the services and merchandise they offer are adequate for your situation. They are often very limited and precise when it comes to providing funeral services, however they are often the least expensive option.

Keep in mind…

  • When ‘shopping’ for a funeral home provider, take care to go over all the details before signing any contracts. You can use the Funeral Home Comparison Checklist to help you when planning a funeral, by comparing prices and services offered at the funeral homes in your area.

Once you have chosen the funeral home to coordinate and provide your services, you will sit down with a funeral director to start planning and arranging the funeral. The whole situation is a bit intimidating if you are not sure of what to expect and how to express your concerns. By educating yourself about funeral and cemetery terminology as well as the means needed for pre-planning a funeral ahead of time, you will feel more comfortable when making the arrangements.

Estate Planning Glossary

July 14th, 2011

The terminology used in Estate Planning can be confusing if you are not familiar with the wording used.  Estate lawyers/attorneys are equipped to help through the process, but it is also a good idea to be well-informed before hand.

Glossary of Estate and Probate Terminology

A

Administration: The time when the personal representative collects the deceased assets, pays debt and distributes the estate as arranged in will.

Administrator: The personal representative (if there is a will). The person assigned by the court to distribute the deceased assets if there is no will. Also known as the executor/executrix.

Affidavit: Sworn/written statement constructed under oath with witnesses.

Annual Exclusion: The amount of gifts allowed annually to be given to family members free of federal taxes.

Asset Protection: The act of protecting your estate during your life and after death from any legal or tax problems.

Attorney In Fact: The person assigned as agent under power of  attorney.

B

Beneficiary: The person(s) who receives the benefit property/estate or trust.

Bequest: To leave a gift or property as noted in a will.

Continue reading “Estate Planning Glossary” »

Sinister Scam Targets Grieving Families

June 17th, 2011

Scam AlertJust got word from the Texas Funeral Directors Association of a new scam going around targeting grieving families. This is perhaps the most sinister scam we’ve seen since telephone and e-mail scams began over 5 years ago.

A family is contacted by an individual claiming to work for the funeral home, and rudely informs them that they have a balance due on their loved one’s funeral. They are asked to pay immediately by credit or debit card. Our guess is that they get the funeral home information from the obituary and the phone number from the telephone or internet phone directories because the funeral home would not release this information.

Please be aware and do not to be taken in by this scam. The family who reported this had paid in full, but someone who did have a balance might actually pay. Not only do they get taken, but the funeral home gets a bad reputation.

This has started in West Texas, but we know that once a scam takes hold, it can quickly travel across the nation.

What To Do If You Receive One Of These Calls

Do not give them your credit or debit card until you verify that this is not a scam. It is within your rights to say no to anyone asking your to immediately pay a bill over the phone.

  1. Explain that you will need to call them back with the information they want.
  2. Ask for the name of the funeral home, the name of the person calling and a phone number in which you can called them back.
  3. Hang up and verify that the phone number belongs to the funeral home by looking the funeral home number up in the phone book or online. If the number is different than the one the caller gave you, this is a good sign that it is a scam.
  4. Call the funeral home and ask for the billing department. Verify that the information the caller gave you was in fact correct.
  5. If you find out that the call was a scam immediately file a report with your State Attorney General Office. Be sure to give them the phone number that the scammer gave you.
  6. Make sure the funeral home knows that a scammer is calling their clients.

How Funeral Homes can protect themselves from this scam.

  1. Give clients clear and written information concerning terms of payment for services.
  2. Give clients a business card with billing contact information.
  3. Pass along any information you have about scams like these to your state and national funeral directors associations, FSN Funeral Homes as well as other local funeral homes.