Cremation now the most popular disposition choice for Americans

2016 marked the year that more cremations were conducted than burials.  Last year 50.2% of dispositions were cremations.  This is a huge shift in the funeral industry and a significant change in tradition.

Why are more Americans choosing cremation?  There are several reasons cited, but by far the most common reason is COST.  Economical conditions for the majority of Americans mean that the days of elaborate and costly traditional burials are over.

Cremation costs A traditional burial would cost anywhere in the region of $10,000 – $20,000 depending upon the cost of the casket and cemetery plot.  If the deceased had not made any pre-need funeral plan, and surviving family are left to fork out for the funeral, then spending tens of thousands of dollars is just NOT an option.

CNN reported in 2015 that 76% of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck.  And these are the folks that cannot afford the sudden ‘disruption’ to their finances of an unexpected expenditure such as a funeral.

And let’s face the harsh reality which is that there really is NO financing for a funeral. Seriously who is going to lend money based upon having no means to ‘re-possess’ the goods?!!

Affordable cremationSo for many Americans cremation has just entered the scene as the ONLY viable affordable alternative to conduct a funeral.

A cremation service will cost you within the region of $3,000 – $4000.

This is a full service funeral but with a cremation conducted after the service.

A cremation memorial where the deceased is first cremated and then a memorial service held with the cremated remains costs less than a full-service cremation.

A cremation memorial is likely to cost in the region of $1,500 – $2,500.

For those families that can only afford the bare minimum, or for those families that do not desire any services whatsoever, then a direct cremation is the solution.  A direct cremation is where the funeral home and/or crematory simply handle conducting the cremation of the deceased and returning the remains to the family.

A direct cremation costs anywhere in the region of $425 – $1,595 depending on the city, location and provider.  The cost for a direct cremation does vary geographically.  For example, Las Vegas NV is probably the cheapest place to purchase a direct cremation and Lafayette LA is one of the most expensive for a direct cremation.

It is always wise to check cremation prices from more than one funeral home or cremation service provider.  You will quickly discover that the cost for a cremation service can vary, even for the exact same service.

If cost is king for you and you want to arrange a low-cost direct cremation and keep your funeral costs to a minimum, then DFS Memorials can help you.  DFS Memorials is a network of local, independent funeral homes all offering an affordable direct cremation package.  We conducted extensive price comparison research to recruit a local cremation provider that represented best value in quality and price for a simple direct cremation.

Use the state links on the right-hand side to find your nearest DFS Memorials provider and discover the affordable cost for a direct cremation in your area.

Who are Heritage Cremation Provider?

Heritage Cremation Provider are an online national website offering cremation services between $695 and $1,395.  They give the appearance of being a local company when in fact they are just acting as ‘middle men’ and do not actually operate a funeral home.

heritage-cremation-providerHow do Heritage Cremation Provider operate?

Heritage are NOT funeral directors or a funeral establishment.  They are registered in Colorado which happens to be the only state in the USA that does not require a funeral home to have a license to operate.  They handle the inquiry from a family and coordinate cremation services by doing trade services through a local funeral home.  In the majority of areas where we conducted research, Heritage would be charging a family more than the local funeral home would have charged the family.  But at no time do they handle the deceased’s body.  They require payment upfront yet several of the funeral homes they work with report that it can take several weeks or more before they receive their trade payment.

Should you trust Heritage?

The company has had so many complaints about its level of service that the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has an alert warning about the company and has ranked it as a grade D.  If you visit the BBB website you can view the complaints lodged against Heritage Cremation Provider.

BBB :  http://www.bbb.org/southern-colorado/business-reviews/business-and-trade-organizations/heritage-cremation-provider-in-colorado-springs-co-87352250

Complaints lodged against Heritage Cremation Provider record families who paid the upfront fee but have had trouble obtaining the cremated remains of their loved one or trouble obtaining death certificates.

In May 2015 the attorney for the Florida Department of Financial Services filed a cease-and-desist order against Heritage Provider LLC to prevent the company selling cremation services in Florida.

There are numerous other states where the Attorney General is pushing through legislation to prevent Heritage operating as they are in their state.  Several states funeral boards have also advised their members not to work with Heritage Cremation Provider.

Also note: Heritage Cremation Provider also trade as Legacy Funeral Services.  Both web sites offer the same kind of online service where the cremations are simply sent to a trade cremation service in the locality for a nominal fee, whilst the family pays a full upfront fee to the online company.

Further reading:

Article in Gazette – Southern Colorado BBB warns of cremation companies practices

Funeral Homes Failure to Disclose Funeral Costs

The funeral industry operates like no other industry I know.  In today’s consumer marketplace cost is a principle. Maybe not cost alone but certainly a combination of cost and value.  It is highly unlikely that you would make a consumer purchase without asking the question “how much”?

funeral-pricesYet the funeral industry expects us to make funeral arrangements (once the fourth biggest expenditure you will make in a lifetime) without being concerned about what our bottom line is going to be.  Not only can many funeral locations be evasive about disclosing prices to us if we inquire (although legally they are bound to do so), they can bombard us with so many irrelevant questions about our requirements that it can be overwhelming at a distressing time!

The latest Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA) survey in conjunction with the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) has highlighted yet again just how non-compliant the industry is with the Federal Trade Commission’s ‘funeral rule’ which requires them to disclose prices.

2015 Funeral Costs Survey

The FCA and CFA recently surveyed 150 funeral homes in 10 metro areas to discover that despite legislation put in place to protect consumers, only 1 in 4 funeral homes are readily disclosing funeral costs on their websites.  According to the FCA and CFA survey another 29% provided prices upon an email request and a further 29% divulged their prices after receiving an email and then a phone call.  16% of funeral homes surveyed did not provide any pricing information, or provided it only if a customer visited the funeral home.

The survey also highlighted the variation between itemized prices for funeral services and how dramatically these can vary, sometimes by as much as 3 times as much for the exact same service.

At DFS Memorials we have undertaken numerous funeral price comparison surveys to enable us to locate the best value direct cremation or direct burial.  We have encountered the same resistance by many funeral locations to disclose cremation prices.

An industry resisting change….and consumer demand!

The funeral industry has been criticized for its slowness and unwillingness to embrace change.  The ‘dinosaur’ that could be prone to extinction as it continues to ignore consumer demand.  This survey exemplifies how despite the more progressive funeral companies who have adapted to the changes affecting the industry, there are still funeral businesses locked in a times-past.

save-on-cremation-costsCremation is probably the biggest change to face this industry in the last century, and could be likened to a snowball in its growth since 2008.  Families are voting with their feet that they simply cannot or will not pay thousands of dollars to lay a loved one to rest anymore.

Direct cremation is revolutionizing a once very stoic industry, and direct cremation scares many funeral business to death!!  A direct cremation requires the most minimal of services from a funeral director and is his least expensive service option.  Understandably many long-standing funeral homes with large overheads and fleets of vehicles are facing very troubling times.

To the funeral consumer a direct cremation means a funeral bill of typically less than $1,000 (in most metro areas).  To the funeral home owner this means a steep drop in profit-margin.

So….do your homework and compare prices.  As this recent survey uncovered, this is a mine-field to tread through.  If you are researching ahead of time this gives you an advantage, but coming new to making arrangements at a time of need can be very distressing and completely overwhelming.  As a guide DFS Memorials is here to help you.  We have an extensive network of low cost cremation providers across the United States and guarantee to offer you disclosure of direct cremation costs.  We hope to provide some light and guidance through your dark path, and make laying a loved one to rest a task that may be painful, but not end up costing you more than you can afford.

Funeral Poverty Crisis Affecting Families

indigent-funeral-assistanceRecent reports in the news are attempting to highlight the growing concern about thousands of families that are too poor today to afford a funeral.  A report from the UK claims that those unable to pay for a funeral has skyrocketed by 80% in the last 10 years, and this issue is no different here in the United States.  According to a CBS report in 2011 48% of Americans fell into the bracket of low-income or poverty.  This is a staggering percentage of Americans that find themselves struggling with everyday living costs…never mind dealing with an unexpected, or unprepared for, death in the family.

Every day at DFS Memorials we receive calls from families desperate and distraught as they try and find their way through the process of taking care of a lost loved one without sufficient means to really pay for a funeral.

So what happens if you do not have the money to pay for a funeral?

There are very limited resources available to help those families with insufficient resources to pay for a funeral.  Some states do provide some level of support and some do not.  In some states there is devolved funding at county level.  If you are on any kind of state-assisted welfare or benefits you may qualify for some limited assistance.

In most cases it is likely that you will have to arrange the lowest cost type of funeral that the funds will assist with.  This will mean arranging a basic cremation or a simple burial with minimal funeral services.

Will the State help you cover funeral costs?

If you are fortunate enough to be in a state or county that does offer some assistance, you will find that it does only cover a limited amount.  There is also generally a limitation of the level of family contribution. i.e. you cannot claim funds for an indigent funeral and then have family members all contribute funds.  Use this table for a state by state breakdown of what is available to assist families with an indigent burial.

Bear in mind that although most states still refer to ‘indigent burial programs’ in many states only cremation is now offered as this is far more economical and helps the state, or county, use their budget effectively.

What are the implications of accepting state assistance for a funeral?

When you turn to the state or municipal to pay for a funeral, then you cannot expect the full range of services or much autonomy over what kind of services are available.  In some cases only a basic direct cremation or direct burial is offered as a public aid disposition.

There are also limitations on how much family members can contribute towards the overall funeral cost.

What if the deceased had no life insurance, and surviving family have no money to pay for the funeral?

If there is no life insurance to meet funeral expenses, and you do not qualify for any kind of public assistance, you will have to meet a decision about how to meet any funeral costs.  As mentioned a basic cremation can be conducted in most areas for around $800.  If family can rally round, and make contributions, it may be possible to pool funds and meet a basic disposition.  A simple family memorial service, or ash-scattering service, can be held once the cremated remains are back with the family.

To read more about what options you have to arrange a low-cost funeral service, read this article on Indigent Burial Assistance and assistance for funeral funding.

Affordable Cremations in Houston, TX – $675

basic-cremation-costIf you are looking for an affordable and dignified cremation service in Houston, then look no further than DFS Memorials.  Working with a local, family owned funeral and cremation business, we can help you locate the best value price on a cremation or burial.

      Call us now on (713) 309-6059 to find out more about arranging the lowest  cost cremation in Houston

“Overpaying is NOT dignified”

DFS Memorials can provide affordable cremation services for residents of all neighborhoods of the Greater Houston area for $675

Arranging a low cost cremation in Jacksonville, FL

More families today are looking to save money on the cost of a funeral, and turning to the Internet to conduct funeral price comparisons.  The only problem with this is that many funeral homes in Jacksonville do not disclose funeral prices on their websites.

low-cost-cremation-jacksonville-flAlthough the FTC rule made it federal law for funeral homes to have a general price list and to make this available to families either in person or by phone, still too many funeral homes choose NOT to include this on their website.  This makes it difficult for families at the time of need to effectively use the Internet to price shop for funeral services.

We at DFS Memorials wanted to simplify this and help families by easily connecting them with a local Jacksonville funeral home that offered the best value cremation services.  We wanted to take the hassle out of funeral price shopping for families.

Low cost cremation services in Jacksonville

We conducted some research and cremation cost comparisons to establish a preferred low cost cremation provider for the Jacksonville area.  The cost of a basic cremation can vary considerably depending upon the funeral home you select but you can arrange a basic direct cremation in Jacksonville for around $1,000.

An affordable direct cremation package will generally include:

  • Collecting the deceased from the place of death
  • Refrigerated storage for the mandatory waiting period
  • Completion of all the necessary documentation & authorizations
  • A basic cremation container
  • The cremation
  • A temporary container to return the cremated remains to the family

Cheap direct cremation from a Direct Disposer in Jacksonville

Florida is one of only two states where Direct Disposers are licensed and can operate without funeral home facilities.  Cremation costs from a Direct Disposer may initially seem much cheaper, but I would suggest you carefully check the small print of a offered budget cremation from a Direct Disposer.  It is not unknown for charges such as refrigeration or out-of-hours collection to significantly increase the cremation cost.

The DFS Memorials provider for Jacksonville is a local, family-owned funeral home that can offer full service cremation services but also understands the need for cremation services that meet every budget.  This enables DFS Memorials to offer families in Jacksonville a simple, dignified cremation for just $895 complete (with no hidden extras).

 

[Sara Marsden] Google+

$895 complete direct cremation available to the Greater Jacksonville area and throughout the neighborhoods of Arlington, Avondale, Barnette Office Park, Belfort Station, Brooklyn, Cecil Field Naval Air Station, Central Civic Core District, Church District, Downtown, East Jacksonville, Empire Point, First Coast Center, Institutional District, La Valla District, Mandarin, North Jacksonville, Oakland, Ortega, River Park, Riverside, San Marco, Sherwood Forest, South Bank Dist, South Jacksonville, South Side, Springfield, Springfield Historical District, St. John Quarter Historic District, Stadium District, Waterleaf, and West Jacksonville

DNA: Did you realize that cremation destroys all traces of DNA?

This is something that many families would not even think about. Why…most people probably have not even thought about the consequences of the finality of a cremation! A cremation permanently destroys all traces of an individual’s DNA. There is no DNA that can be extracted from cremated remains.

Why you should think about securing a sample of your DNA

With the cremation rate rising and rising, and more folks opting for the quick, simple cremation as the most efficient and cost-effective way to handle a disposition; we are slowly eroding our mortal DNA heritage.

Although a costly and rather unpleasant process, DNA can still be extracted from human remains if a body is exhumed. Cremation is so final and no legacy of mortal remains that contain DNA are left behind.

dna-sampleYou may be thinking “why is it so important to consider the destruction of DNA?” We have all become familiar with the term DNA today and understand that it can be applied in several fields to conclusively identify heritage. Whether it be tracing a family line, settling a paternity case, or identifying the perpetrator of a crime….DNA is each individual’s unique code.

With medical developments and interventions advancing as fast as they are today, having a sample of your parents, grandparents or siblings DNA could prove a very valuable asset.

Higher Risk Individuals

If you are in the armed forces, are a first responder or travel, you may wish to consider securing a sample of your DNA in the event you there is a need to conclusively identify you.

How do you obtain a DNA sample for legacy purposes?

You can secure your own DNA, or the DNA of a family member, with one simple process. A special kit enables you to collect your DNA sample, which is then sent off to a lab where it is bound in silicone and stored in a vial. This vial is then returned to you for safe-keeping at home, or can be stored in a secure DNA banking facility.

DNA-home-banking

To find out more about securing your DNA – visit SecureMyDNA

 

Selling cemetery plots in a declining burial marketplace

selling-cemetery-plotSome days it seems that everyone is trying to sell a cemetery plot that is no longer required.  As Communications Director for US Funerals Online I deal with inquiries on a daily basis from families, and one common question today is “how can I sell my cemetery plot?”  Unfortunately I think some individuals see the legacy of a family cemetery plot as the potential to a quick buck, but the reality is that more families are selling than those that are looking to buy!

Selling a cemetery plot is not always a straight-forward process.  Not only do we have a declining burial rate as cremation gains popularity, but finding an appropriate marketplace to sell a product that people do not really want to think about buying, can be problematic too!

So how do you sell an unwanted cemetery plot?

You have various avenues you can try.  Firstly there are online cemetery registry websites that allow you to list your cemetery property for sale.  Do be careful to check the terms for using an online registry.  Most online brokers will want a commission for helping you to sell your plot, but this can vary from a fixed fee to a percentage of the sale price.  Also check if there is a length of time you can list your property for, as cemetery property does not generally sell quickly!

You can also explore options in your locale.  Is there a cemetery real estate agent who can help you re-sell your property?  In some cases the cemetery may buy back your plot but the likelihood is that they will only offer you the original purchase price, or maybe even less.

A useful strategy may be to notify local funeral homes in your area that you have a cemetery plot for sale, the cost of the plot and the commission you would be willing to pay them if they sold the plot for you.   Do bear in mind that even cemeteries are struggling to sell plots now and offering huge discounts and enhanced commissions.  Local clergy and estate lawyers may also be worth notifying of your intent to sell a plot.

Don’t expect a quick sale!

Prepare yourself…selling that family plot that has been in the family for decades is not going to get you rich quick!  Transferring cemetery deeds can sometimes be a complicated affair.  If your family has a plot in an established cemetery, and if you happen to live in a city where burial space is becoming sparser, then you may be in luck.  But you do need to accept that your plot may take months, if not years, to sell and may not fetch thousands of dollars.

Funeral Insurance: Legalities that can provide loop-holes!

LIfe-Insurance-PolicyThis story in the news today (USA Today: Funeral expenses leave mother’s body in limbo) highlights some potential risks with using life insurance to pay out for funeral expenses.

Dorothy Johnson believed she had been prudent and wise in taking out a life insurance policy for $50,000 which would cover her funeral expenses and hopefully leave a financial legacy for her children.

She did not foresee that she would die young (53 years) of a heart condition and having made her youngest son the beneficiary, that he would not legally at 16 years old, be able to access the funds.

We all know that insurance companies hate to pay out and will find any loop-hole, small print opportunity to void a policy or clause that you have transgressed to escape making full payment.

In the Johnson’s case, their mother’s body remains deteriorating at the funeral home whilst the insurance company claims that a legal guardian has to petition the court to access the funds.  This could take weeks, if not months, and all the Johnson’s want is to be able to hold a dignified funeral for their mother and say their final goodbyes!

The surviving family does not have sufficient money to be able to hold a funeral service without the life insurance funds.  They have approached 7 Social Service organizations for help, but as of yet no help has been offered.

This is a sad but true story of how ordinary families across America are affected by funeral costs today.  Preplanning is an excellent idea and is meant to save your surviving family the anguish of this sort of situation.  However, as this story exemplifies, you MUST ensure that all your ‘ducks are in row’ with any kind of insurance policy you take out to cover final expenses.

In the Johnson’s case it looks like they will not be able to have the funeral they wanted for their mother – a home-going funeral befitting for a woman who did nothing but care for others.  The family will have no option but to hold a simple and low cost cremation in order to handle the disposition of their mother.

If you hold life insurance, or are considering taking out a funeral insurance policy, do ensure you carefully check ALL the terms about how the funds can be accessed by your designated beneficiary.

Funeral Kiosks: Puts a whole new meaning to Shop Til You Drop!

funerals-shopping-mallFunerals have been given some more media coverage this week as the story hit the news about a funeral company in California that had opened up funeral kiosks in shopping malls.  Of course, this coverage of funeral planning is not bad news, it does draw to the public’s attention the notion of pre-purchasing a funeral, a casket or even a cemetery plot or cremation niche!

The shopping mall today is our new religion and where many of us congregate in our leisure time – a funeral IS a purchase, so why not open outlets in shopping malls?  Til We Meet Again, a custom casket and cremation urn retailer started opening locations in malls some time ago and now operates locations in four states.

It seems culturally we find the idea of funerals being sold in malls distasteful and I wonder why!  Forest Lawn, the Californian company now operating funeral kiosks, claim the mall is a much ‘happier’ place for people to reflect on their end of life wishes.

Interestingly The Consumerist asked readers to vote for where they would rather purchase funeral arrangements.  The results were:

  • Online 45.89%
  • At a funeral home 43.29%
  • At a shopping mall 10.82%

So it certainly seems that the mall is not the location many of us would choose to make our funeral arrangements.

Funerals have always been regarded as difficult to market.  A funeral is a purchase that everyone will need, yet no one wants to think about!  According to the executive director of the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association “Funeral planning is something everybody knows they must do, but at the same time it’s something nobody wants to do.”

Our grandparents were of the generation that did take out burial insurance or set up a funeral plan with the local funeral home.  But as we have become a more mobile population, and a culture more interested in the now and instant gratification, there has been less interest in ensuring our final wishes are prepared for.

The fact that the largest majority would prefer to purchase funeral arrangements online is surely a reflection of how our times are changing!  Many of the funeral providers we work with are now offering online funeral planning arrangements.  Some cremation providers even offer complete online cremation arrangement so there is no need to visit a funeral home!

To find out more about making cremation arrangements online, visit your local DFS Memorials provider.