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. $1,000 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 $3,000 – $5,000 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 $1,000.
  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

Questions about Funeral Pricing

August 27th, 2014

FSN Funeral Homes,

Funeral PlanningWorking with my parents pre-planning.  How do I know what FH’s are independently owned vs big corporation?  What should I expect to pay for Funeral Home access, Casket, procession to grave site?

Chuck

_

Chuck,

Unfortunately, there aren’t any definitive or universal answers for you on any of these questions, but I’ll go through them one at a time and give you the best answer I can for each.

  1. Independently owned or big corporation – From the outside, it’s very difficult to know with any certainty. You can check the business website and its ‘About Us’ section for information, but the best way to know is probably just to ask. I would like to add that it’s equally possible to get good service from a corporation and bad service from an independent as vice versa. It’s really about the individual funeral home’s reputation, not who owns it.
  2. Pricing for Funeral Home access, casket or procession to grave site – Again, there is no hard and fast answer here. Your best bet will be to go to the websites of funeral homes in your area and shop around. Treat it like you would any other service you want to buy. Due to the “Funeral Rule” enforced by the Federal Trade Comission, funeral directors must give you an itemized list detailing the pricing for each of their services up front. Contact a few of your local funeral homes and get that list.

I would caution that the cheapest services are not always equal. Check user reviews if they’re available, and if they’re not, ask around the community to find out if other people have been pleased with the services they and their loved one received.

Arlington National CemeteryHere are some tips I can give you:

  1. Make sure you are only paying for the services you want – Package deals are great, except when they include services you don’t want. Why? Because whether you want it or not, you’re probably still paying for it. When pre-planning you have time to shop and think. Cherry-pick the services you want and work to get the best prices you can. Then, get it in writing. 
  2. Caskets are marked up – While there are no definitive price ranges on caskets, you can be sure that they are marked up. Funeral homes are a business and they are working to make a profit. They have to so they can stay in business. Legally, they cannot refuse or charge extra for using a casket you purchased somewhere else. Casket shopping can be done online and across the country. Still, if you find the casket you want at a price you prefer somewhere else, you might bring that price to the funeral home you are going to use and see if they are willing to match.
  3. Funeral Consumers Alliance – There is a volunteer organization that helps with exactly what you are trying to do. Some of the more active ones have actually already done a lot of the legwork on price comparisons. Here is a link to their list of states. Pick yours and see if they have any additional information that can help.

Pre-planning a funeral is important because it allows you to make these decisions and nail down the pricing when you aren’t overcome by grief. Don’t be afraid to take your time and get the best information you can!

Thanks,

Ed

Tomb Stones and Relocating Ashes

June 23rd, 2014

FSNFH Ask the Expert Question:

Hi I recently came from my late husband grave and got pretty upset because 1: I couldn’t find it! : 2 when I left the gravesite family took over! 3:the burial site has no name or nothing to say his name just a flower! How much is a tombstone?

Funeral Expert Reply:

Lydia,
Headstones come in a variety of price ranges depending on where you live and where the cemetery is located. If you can send me the name of the cemetery and the city in which it is located, I can help you find a local monument company who can provide you with a price list and options.

Shipping Bodies From One State For Burial In Another State

January 14th, 2014

FSNFH Ask the Expert Question: shipping bodies

I now live in Port Huron but my wife is buried in the National Cemeraty in Bushnell Fl. I would like to know if there is a funeral home that ships bodies so when I die I will be with her. Paul

Funeral Expert Reply:

Mr. Zenz,

You situation is not uncommon. Bodies are transport often from one city to another and from one state to another. In fact, there are companies that specialize in this kind of transportation. However, these companies usually work with the funeral homes and not the individuals. So you will need to determine where you need a funeral home. If you plan on services such as a visitation in Port Huron, the funeral home there can help coordinate the arrangements with the funeral home and cemetery in Bushnell. If you are not planning any services in Port Huron, the funeral home in Bushnell can help coordinate the transportation and burial from Michigan to Florida.

If need help finding a particular funeral home in either area, please let me know. Or you can visit the Port Huron MI Funeral Homes or Bushnell FL Funeral Homes pages on FSN Funeral Homes.

Mortuary Transport from Canada to Arizona

November 20th, 2013

Ask The Funeral Planning Expert:

I need information on what is involved in transporting one’s body from Montreal to the U.S., specifically Arizona, including cost. – Alexandra

Funeral Planning Expert Reply:

Alexandra –

When it comes to transporting human remains internationally, it is easy to be overwhelmed with the required clearances and red tape deemed necessary by two different governments. Families who have suffered a loss often do not know where to start and thankfully can rely on their local funeral home to help them make preparations. Your first step would be to check with your local funeral home and make sure they are familiar with the complexities of international mortuary shipping. Here is our directory of Montreal funeral services.
And our directory of Arizona funeral services can be found here.

While some funeral services can arrange for complete international transportation, it is important to take the steps to understand the protocols and terminology of funeral shipping so you will be better informed and able to take control of the process and ultimately avoid unnecessary and overly expensive costs.

If you do not have a specific funeral service in mind or your local funeral home does not offer mortuary transport, you would need to first contact both a Canadian funeral service that is able to prepare the body for shipping and an Arizona-based funeral home or mortuary transport service that can receive the remains upon delivery. In your searching, you may find a funeral home with full international services. They can arrange for the necessary paperwork, certificates (with translations if necessary), air-tray or container and air transportation on your behalf. Some funeral homes will have a specific airline that they use and discounts applicable to the bereaved. Fees for these services can vary greatly and also depend on whether the body is embalmed or cremated.

There are regulations in Canada and the United States that govern the movement of human remains.  Here is what the U.S. Customs and Border Protections has to say about transporting remains.

If you are making the travel arrangements yourself, be it that is your wish to do so, or it is necessitated by managing costs then helpful information is available on most of the major airline’s cargo web sites. Each major carrier will detail exact requirements, including paperwork and approved containers or air trays for international travel of human remains. Often carriers will have special staff members dedicated to helping make these arrangements and work directly with you to ensure safe and honorable transport and delivery. Here are a few direct links to get you started:
If shipping a body for burial, you will have to work with a coroner or Montreal-based funeral service to complete documents, prep the body in an approved container and arrange delivery to the airport. Be aware that you will need to have an English death certificate and embalming/cremation certificate ready to present when traveling into the United States. Upon arrival in Arizona, you will need to work with a local funeral service to arrange for pickup. The costs for these services in both countries can vary so request estimates when contacting funeral home providers.

If traveling with cremated remains, most airlines allow ashes to be taken as passenger carry-ons provided the container can travel through TSA x-ray machines. TSA personnel are not authorized to open an urn and will not inspect the contents of an urn if you open it for them. If the sealed container cannot pass through the x-ray machine, it will not be allowed as a carry-on. Because of this requirement, containers made of plastic, wood or any non-lead based ceramic are used for transport. Most funeral services are familiar with this requirement and can recommend a suitable option at time of cremation. If a stone or metal urn is desired, a temporary container can be selected and once arriving at the final funeral service destination, the ashes can be transfered to a permanent receptacle.  Different airlines have protocol for checking in cremated remains with airline cargo and baggage so it is best to search a specific airline’s website or call the company before flying. Be sure to travel with the death certificate and cremation certificate to present at customs.

Thank you for using FSN Funeral Homes. I hope this information is helpful.

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.

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.

 

 

Finding Cemetery Plot in Philadelphia’s Mount Moriah Cemetery.

June 20th, 2013

Ask The Funeral Expert: cemetery plot number at Mt. Moriah

Mount Moriah Cemetery Gatehouse and BuildingI am looking for a grave on my infant uncle who died in 1901.  He is buried in Mt. Moriah but from what I have been told the records are lost.   Is there any way I can get the plot number from the original funeral home records?  Samuel Foster was the undertaker 1728 Federal St. Philadelphia Pa Burial 11/26/1901.  His name was John Stevenson Craig born Feb 1900.
Thank You  Kelly Craig

Funeral Expert Reply:

Kelly,

Thank you for using FSN Funeral Homes, a directory of Funeral Homes in the United States and Canada.

Since you do not know the name of the original funeral home, it may be difficult to find the plot number that way. Yet there amy still be a way to find the information.

The Mt. Moriah cemetery in Philadelphia is a historic cemetery with many very old grave sites including the burial plot for Betsey Ross. Since its founding it has been cared for by the Mount Moriah Cemetery Association. However due to several factors, the cemetery records are now under the possession of the City of Philadelphia.

The best way to find information on your uncle’s grave is to contact the non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the Mount Moriah Cemetery or Philadelphia’s Consumer Affairs Advocate Lance Haver.

Mail all the information you have to:
Friends of Mount Moriah Cemetery, Inc.
2559 S. 70th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19142


Or

Lance Haver Consumer Affairs,
City of Philadelphia City Hall, Room 167
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Tel: (215) 686-7598
Fax: (215) 686-6215
E-mail:lance.haver@phila.gov;

Hopefully this information will lead you to someone who can provide the plot number. Good luck in your endeavor.

*Photo was obtained from the Library of Congress http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/pa1010.photos.138910p/.

Funerals & Thieves: Awareness and Prevention

June 19th, 2013

Death is often a rallying cry for families and communities. People you’ve only ever spoken to in passing may present themselves at your door with food and offers of support in your time of need. Often, it is these moments that bring people closer together. Why? Because Death and Love are both universal. When a death occurs, the love others feel for you or the one that has passed is made manifest in their actions, words, and hearts.

The Darker Side of Death

The flip side of that card reveals those who would try to profit from grief. Greed is a powerful force and can lead people to do terrible things. Recently, there have been an increasing number of cases wherein a family leaves their home to attend the funeral of a loved one, only to discover when they arrive back home that their house has been robbed.

Thieves will read the paper, search for obituaries and then plan a robbery when they know the family will be away. Often they will target the elderly in hopes of finding unused medications. Many funeral homes have become aware of this trend and elect not to include addresses in Obituaries anymore. This is helpful, but in the internet age, information can still be found.

What You Can Do

You are not helpless. There are different steps you can take to combat this activity:

  1. Ask for House-Sitters – The best way to prevent this predatory behavior is to ensure that there will be someone at home. Find a neighbor or a friend that did not know the deceased who can stay at your home while you are away. 
  2. Remove Medications – Take away their reason for breaking in. You might even place a hand-written sign on all doors leading into the home stating that there are no medications there.
  3. Lock Up – As simple as this sounds, grief can make us forget even the most ingrained things. In several of the cases mentioned above, the owners never locked their front doors. Locking up as you leave is the easiest way to make it difficult for a thief to break in.

Here is a news report from WICU12 in Erie, PA that shows an example of this occurring and discusses the steps outlined above.

WICU12/WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

Awareness is the first step in keeping your home secure. Knowing the problem exists allows you to plan ahead. Each of us should have a plan for when we die; it’s why funeral homes offer pre-planning services. Take advantage of this information and discuss the necessary steps to keep your family safe.

Where Do I Obtain Illinois Death Records?

April 1st, 2013

Ask The Funeral Expert:

Michele – My daughter, died on November 9, 1978 and her cremation took place at Severino Funeral in Rosemont, Il. My in-laws, Russell and Elizabeth Berggren, made the arrangements and have since passed away. I am trying to find any information I can on my daughter’s death records, and am wondering if you might have any records regarding her death. Any information you can give me would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you.

Funeral Expert Reply:

In the state of Illinois (as long as you can prove a relationship to the deceased and need for information), you can petition the Illinois Vital Record Department for a copy of the her death record.

You will need to prove the following:
The decedent’s full name.
* The date of death.
* The city and county where the death occurred, if known.
* The parent(s) name(s).
* Any additional identifying information you may have — such as the funeral home in charge of burial.
* Your relationship to the decedent.
* The reason for requesting the record.
* A copy/photocopy of a non-expired, government issued photo ID.
* I also suggest giving them the date of birth and location of birth.

You can ask for the information in-person, via, phone, fax, or online.  The best place to start your inquiry is in the county clerk’s office in which the death occurred. For example if she died in the same county as the funeral home, you would contact the Cook County Clerk.

If you want to visit them in person you would go to Cook County Bureau of Statistics, 50 W. Washington – Concourse Level -25 Chicago Il. By mail Cook County Bureau of Statisitics PO Box 641070 Chicago, IL 60664 or call them at 312-603-7788.

I hope this information is helpful. Please let me know if I can assist with anything else.