What is a direct cremation service? A simple and affordable alternative

direct-cremation-servicesIt is common knowledge that we are experiencing a cremation trend in the United States but maybe not as readily acknowledged that there has also been a growing demand for direct cremation services.

A direct cremation is a simple cremation without any ceremony or additional services being offered by the funeral services provider.

Some funeral service providers refer to it as a “direct cremation with no ceremonial services”.  The deceased is collected from the place of death, transferred to a crematory and/or funeral home, all the legal documentation is completed and then the deceased is cremated and the cremated remains returned directly to the family.

The growing demand for this type of cremation service is largely due to the need for more affordable and simple disposition services.  More families either cannot afford an expensive funeral service, or simply do not want to spend unnecessarily on funeral costs.  Aside from the cost factor, more families do not want fussy traditional funeral rituals and more families are dispersed than living together in a state or city, so a simple cremation can provide an effective and efficient means to take care of the remains of a loved one.

Which funeral service providers offer direct cremation services?

I believe it is fair to say that nearly all funeral service locations offer a “direct cremation” service on their General Price List.  It is often towards the bottom of the price list.  It can be the lowest cost cremation service on a price list as it involves the most minimal services from the funeral location.  Historically it has not been promoted as a service offering as many funeral directors feel it does not reflect the level of service they would prefer to offer a family.  And, of course, there is not the same level of profit in a direct cremation!

The funeral profession, in the main, still feel that we need the ritual of a funeral service in order to have closure on a death.  Although I can acknowledge that this is very important to some individuals, some families today do not feel that an immediate ritual is necessary.

Some funeral providers have opted to focus on cremation, and sometimes indeed direct cremation, as the core of their funeral businesses.  These providers will clearly promote their direct cremation packages and prices.

Independent Cremation Societies have emerged offering a variety of cremation services, including direct cremation.  Service Corporation International has its cremation brands with National Cremation and Neptune Society.  A number of online cremation networks or portals have emerged that help you arrange a direct cremation online at a lower cost.  These vary between networks of independent funeral homes such as DFS Memorials, Parting.com and Cremation.com who all openly disclose the funeral homes that participate in their network and direct you immediately to the local funeral home.

In difference to these networks there are also online portals trying to capitalize on the opportunity to resell cremation services into funeral businesses at a cost and not disclosing which funeral company you would be dealing with.  Heritage Cremation Provider, Legacy Cremation Services and Simple Cremation Online are examples of such portals.

Direct cremation is going to provide the simplest and most economical disposition method for those who either do not want any services, or cannot afford services.   As this market grows there will be more and more competition between funeral service providers, and it will be imperative to ensure you compare prices and inclusive services and check exactly WHO you are dealing with.

How is our aging population going to be able to afford to die?

According to a new study from Feeding America millions of aging Americans can little afford to eat, never mind afford to cover their end of life expenses.  The study reports that a significant number of Baby Boomers (defined as those now between the ages of 50 and 64) are not the affluent generation we once believed, and are actually facing numerous economic and health issues.

A report by Feeding America and AARP found that approximately 8 million boomers are struggling to afford to eat and are turning to charity for food!  10,000 people turn 65 every day and this growing aging population, overwhelmed with financial issues, is going to have a knock-on effect on the billion dollar death care industry.

How are seniors changing their funeral plans?

affordable-funeralsWhat we are witnessing right now in the US is a huge shift towards cremation as a funeral alternative. Why? Mainly because it presents a much lower-cost option for those families who cannot afford to spend thousands of dollars on a funeral.

In fact, what we are observing through the DFS Memorials network is that the real shift is towards ‘direct cremation’.  This is the lowest cost disposition option available and means that the funeral services provider just delivers the service to cremate the deceased without any ceremony and returns the ashes to the family.  In most metro areas in America a direct cremation costs between $695 and $995…so as you can see this makes for a much more affordable death care option.

With a more mobile retiring population and the less traditional sentiment of the boomers, direct cremation provides an inexpensive and more versatile disposition choice.

The sad reality is that not only is there a generation of boomers struggling financially, their children are also struggling under the weight of the poor economy.  CNN reports that 76% of American families are living paycheck to paycheck which really demonstrates the real financial situation.  If Mom or Pop have not put funds aside in a funeral plan or life insurance….who really has the funds to pay for a funeral?

How will this affect the death care industry?

Profits are down across the nation as we shift from that traditional $10,000 – $15,000 funeral to a simpler cremation alternative that can cost anywhere between $995 and $3,500.  This means many funeral homes are themselves struggling financially.  Many have already closed or amalgamated and the largest corporate death company has bought out its two nearest competitors over the last few years!

The industry is still largely embracing cremation as an opportunity to sell creative ‘personalized’ services under the notion that boomers want something different and are prepared to spend on unique life celebrations.  Whilst there will always be those individuals who can afford to spend on an extravagant send-off, there will be far more who want the simple and least expensive cremation option.

“A society will be judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members and among the most vulnerable are surely the unborn and the dying,”

~Pope John Paul II

Finding affordable cremation services in Fort Worth, TX

Are you concerned about the high costs associated with funeral services? Do you need an affordable cremation service in Fort Worth? We have put together this guide to help you understand more about arranging a cremation in Fort Worth, outlining the different cremation options you have, what costs to expect, and how to save money by arranging a direct cremation.

Why choose cremation services?

cremation-costs-fort-worth-txMore Texans are choosing cremation today as an inexpensive and versatile alternative to a burial service.  Opting for cremation services can save you 40% to 60% (or sometimes more) on the cost of traditional burial services.  No casket is required, or embalming (unless required) and there is no immediate need for a cemetery plot or burial vault.  Eliminating these products and services saves thousands of dollars.

A cremation can offer a more flexible alternative that can accommodate families who have moved from their home state, or when a funeral cannot be held straight away.  Cremation also offers a greater range of personalization options with a whole array of ash-scattering ceremony possibilities, and various cremation artifact products.

What different cremation alternatives do I have?

There are basically 3 main types of cremation service options.  A cremation funeral – where the funeral service is held with the deceased present and a cremation is conducted after the service.  A cremation memorial – where the cremation is conducted before a memorial service is held.  This can be with, or without, the cremated remains present and can often take the form of an ash-scattering ceremony.  Or there is a direct cremation – this is where the deceased is cremated with no services, and the remains given back to the family.  There are some variances around these 3 main options, such as a private viewing before cremation, an observed cremation, or a graveside interment of a cremation urn.

How much does a cremation cost in Fort Worth?

The cost of a cremation can vary considerably.  This will depend upon the type of cremation service you opt for and the cremation services provider you select.  A full-service cremation with a service will cost in the region of $3,000 – $5,000, depending upon the length of service held and what kind of casket you purchase or rent.  A direct cremation will cost between $755 and $3,000 (depending on the funeral home used).

cremation-services-fort-worthDirect cremation services in Fort Worth

If finances for a funeral are limited, you may wish to consider a direct cremation.  A direct cremation is the most affordable cremation option.  The funeral services provider does everything to take care of the immediate disposition of the deceased but no viewing or services are held.  The deceased is cremated in a simple cremation container and then the cremated remains are made available for the family or collect (or if requested delivered/mailed).  A direct cremation can be arranged online or by phone without any need for you to visit a funeral home.  For your best price on a direct cremation contact your DFS Memorials provider in Fort Worth on (817) 953-5155 who offers a complete direct cremation package (including death certificate) for just $755.

How do I choose a cremation services provider?

This can sometimes be a daunting task when there are several funeral homes to choose between.  It may help to set yourself some clear criteria to help you select the provider that best suits your needs.  Which funeral services provider you select can be influenced by what facilities and services they offer, or what budget you have.

As we have highlighted, costs can vary quite significantly between funeral homes for the exact same service.  For this reason we would recommend you compare some costs before making a decision.

Comparing cremation costs in Fort Worth

All funeral homes have a general price list (GPL) and this should itemize all services and charges.  Legally a funeral home must provide you with a copy of their GPL if you request cremation price information, either in person or by phone.

When comparing costs and services check what IS included, especially with a budget direct cremation package.  Is a copy of the death certificate included?  Is the cremation permit an additional cash advance item or included?  What about if an out-of-hours collection is required? Is there an additional daily refrigeration charge if the cremation does not proceed after 48-hours?  A death certificate costs $21.00, with each additional copy charged at $4.00 and a cremation permit from the Medical Examiner costs $25.00.

We have put together a selection of direct cremation price comparisons of from a selection of cremation service providers who offer more affordable cremation services in Fort Worth.

cremation-cost-fort-worth-texas

Disclaimer: This cremation cost information was obtained from providers in May 2015. Prices are posted to help families make informed decisions. However, periodically providers change their prices. We make every effort to ensure the prices are accurate, but prices must be verified directly with the listed funeral home.

Hopefully this information can assist you make an informed decision about which cremation service provider offers the best value cremation service in Fort Worth.

What legally do I need to know about arranging a cremation in Fort Worth?

There are a few legal requirements that you need to be aware of if you are considering cremation. Firstly, the legal next-of-kin must all sign the ‘Cremation Authorization Form’ direct-cremationbefore a cremation can proceed.  If there is any dispute, or a family member cannot be located, there is an 11 day wait period before anything can proceed.

In Texas there is a mandatory wait period after death before the cremation can proceed.  This is 48-hours.  The deceased will be refrigerated during this period, and longer if required, however you should be aware that many cremation packages will only include refrigeration for up to 5 days and will charge you a daily rate thereon.

A Medical Examiner’s certificate costs $25.00 and death certificates cost $21.00 for the 1st certificate and $4.00 for additional copies.  These are often considered ‘cash advance’ items and not included in a quoted cremation price.  The funeral director will generally obtain the death certificates on your behalf.

Can I preplan a cremation?

Yes you can prearrange a cremation.  Advance planning can help to ensure you get the most appropriate services provider for your needs, and can save surviving family the financial and emotional burden at the time of death.  There are various options open to you to plan ahead so consult with your preferred services provider.

What can we do with the cremated remains?

As I mentioned earlier there is a versatility on what you can do with cremated remains.  You can inter a cremation urn in a cemetery plot or niche, keep an urn at home, scatter the remains or create a cremation artifact such as a cremation diamond, glass paperweight, bird bath or memorial reef ball to name but a few!

The deceased had no life insurance – is there any help with cremation costs?

Sadly there is little financial aid that supports those families that find themselves struggling with funeral costs.  Most counties do have a budget for indigent funerals but this is generally for those individuals who truly are indigent.  Some counties do have limited funds to help low-income families with cremation costs but this can vary county by county.  Tarrant County have a program called ‘Basic Needs’ that provides emergency financial assistance to low-income families facing a crisis.  In these cases often the most basic of funeral services will be supported, with limited control over what happens.  A low cost direct cremation from a budget provider can be arranged for $755.

What is “no-cost cremation”?

Some funeral homes now offer this option in Texas.  This is referring to whole body donation whereby after the donation is complete the remains are cremated (free of charge) and then returned to the family or scattered.   Generally funeral homes can get a referral fee from the whole body donation organization, plus they sometimes charge a transportation fee.  So all-in-all they do still recoup their costs.  As we all know, there really is nothing that is truly free!

Selecting Affordable Funeral Services in Chattanooga, TN

The cremation trend is changing the way we think about arranging a funeral.  Although the cremation rate in Tennessee has typically been below the national rate, the demand for low cost funeral alternatives is changing the way many families today approach death care.

How funeral care is changing and economic reasons for choosing cremation

low-cost-cremation-chattanooga-tnDeciding whether to bury or cremate is very much a personal choice.  For some families the decision is dictated by the budget they have for a funeral.  A cremation service will cost much less than a traditional burial funeral.  On average a cremation service is going to save you at least 40% on  the cost of a burial, sometimes you can save as much as 60% on the cost of a burial service.  More families are choosing cremation as it does offer a greater flexibility. The funeral service does not have to go ahead immediately.  Instead a cremation can be performed and the immediate disposition of the body dealt with and then a service held at a later date convenient to the family.

The economy has definitely impacted on how we are changing our approach to death care today.  Many families simply cannot, or do not, want to spend unnecessarily on funeral costs.  A cremation provides a simple, efficient and economical means to conduct a disposition.

So how much does a cremation cost in Chattanooga?

Firstly it is important to state that cremation prices in Chattanooga DO vary quite considerably between funeral homes, and depending what type of cremation service you opt for.  Not all funeral homes have their own crematory but will use the services of a local crematory.  The Cremation Association of North America (CANA) quote the average cost of a cremation at $3,200, however, it is possible to find much lower-priced cremation services in Chattanooga.

A basic cremation can be conducted in Chattanooga for as little as $995 complete*.  This is what is known as a “direct cremation”.  No services are performed, the deceased is collected, transported to the funeral facility, prepared for cremation and the cremation is conducted.  The cremated remains are returned to the family in a temporary plastic urn.  If desired the family can arrange a brief final goodbye viewing at the funeral home.

Call DFS Memorials now on (423) 207-8564 to arrange a low cost cremation for $995

chattanooga-cremation-servicesHow much does a burial funeral service cost in Chattanooga?

Again, the cost for a burial service can vary, depending upon what type of services you require and the cost of funeral merchandise such as the casket and burial vault.  Cemetery costs vary and overhead charged by a funeral home differs.  The National Funeral Directors Association report that the average funeral costs just under $8,000, but this does not include any cemetery fees.

A traditional funeral can be arranged for $3,995, including a casket but not including the cemetery costs.

Call DFS Memorials now on (423) 207-8564 to arrange an affordable traditional funeral for $3,995

What type of cremation services in Chattanooga are available?

You can select from a range of cremation services and packages.  These will start with a basic cremation without any additional services, which is the cheapest type of cremation package.  You can have a full service funeral that is followed by the cremation, a cremation followed by a memorial service, or just a viewing followed by a cremation.  The change in the funeral industry today is the move towards ‘personalization’ and making a funeral service that fits the needs of the family, whatever they are.

Comparing cremation costs in Chattanooga, TN

As mentioned the cost of a cremation can vary enormously – for the exact same service – but from different cremation service providers.   Ensure that you compare like-for-like services.  Some cremation service providers include crematory fees and cremation container costs in a direct cremation package, and others do not always include these fees.  Death certificate fees and cremation permits are often additional ‘cash advance’ items.

cremation-costs-chattanooga-tnHow do I know that the cremated remains I get back are my loved one’s remains?

This is probably the most common cremation question we are asked.  Strict laws govern the cremation of human remains and identity checks have to be made along the way.  The cremation retort has to be completely cleared following a cremation and only one cremation can be performed at a time.  The remains are cleared into a machine that filters out any metal parts (tooth fillings, hip replacements etc) and then ground into the fine ‘dust’ that is returned as cremation ashes.

Understanding the legal requirements for cremation in Chattanooga

As mentioned above, there are laws in place regarding the cremation of human remains.  A cremation cannot be performed until a cremation permit is issued by the medical examiner’s office.  The legal next of kin must sign a Cremation Authorization Form.  It is not necessary to embalm a body for cremation and refrigerated storage is used to preserve the body until the cremation is performed.  The funeral home will generally store the body for up to 5 days in refrigerated storage at no extra charge.  If the cremation does not go ahead within 5 days, an additional fee for storage may be incurred.

What can I do with the cremated remains?

Cremation offers some greater flexibility in what you can do with the cremated remains once you have them returned.  You can, of course, inter them in a grave plot or niche.  However, you can choose to store them in an urn at home or scatter the cremated remains.  There are also options such as having cremation artifacts made from cremated remains such as cremation diamonds, glass jewelry, bird baths and paintings.

Preplanning an affordable cremation service

If you wish to preplan a simple cremation you can lock in a low cost cremation price.  This may depend upon your age at the time of setting up a prepaid cremation plan.  A cremation plan can be set up using an insurance policy where the funds are put into a trust.  You can also opt to preplan your cremation service without prepaying.  This ensures that your surviving family can proceed with arrangements at the time of need, without having to worry about completing the paperwork or make difficult decisions.  The money to pay for the cremation can be put aside in a POD account (Payable on Death) which your beneficiary can draw out upon death immediately without probate.

The deceased had no life insurance – is there any help with cremation costs?

It is sadly a reality that more folks are passing without leaving the means to pay for their funeral.  If you are faced with this situation, you need to explore what help may be available to you.  Social Security pay out a $255 lump sum death benefit (if you qualify) and your funeral director can assist you with this.

The support for indigent burials differs so much by state and county.  To find out what may be available you should contact Hamilton County Human Services Departments.

*death certificates not included in basic direct cremation package

How to choose an Advance Directive to assist with funeral planning

In October 2003, a woman in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) named Terry Schiavo unwittingly grabbed the attention of the global community. Her case would span 15 years and ultimately involve Congress and the president of the United States.

There is probably no better argument for the necessity of having an advance directive in place.

What is an advance directive?

planing-ahead-funeralAn advance directive is a medicolegal document outlining a patient’s wishes regarding their health care. They may also be utilized to appoint someone to make decisions for you in the event you are unable to do so. There are various types of legally recognized documents. Some of them are complex and clinical while others address only a few areas of concern and are more flexible.

Anyone who is at least 18 years old and legally able to make decisions can execute an advance directive. We strongly encourage all adults have a signed directive.

The forms discussed in this article can be obtained online, through your care provider, or from a hospital or similar institution and usually are free of charge.

Five Wishes

This document focuses a bit more on patient comfort than strictly clinical issues. For instance, one can delineate the type of music that is played at their funeral. You can provide information about your personal care such as religious concerns, ensuring that your lips and mouth are kept moistened, and so on.

As one would expect, there are also areas where you can designate someone to make healthcare decisions for you in the event you are unable to communicate. You can also direct healthcare providers regarding the use of life support.

Important notes

The Five Wishes document is legally valid in 42 states. If you decide to use this as your advance directive, you’ll want to verify its legal status for your state.

It’s also important to note that CPR directives are not included in this particular directive; however, you can write in those instructions.

An additional feature is that a patient can authorize their agent (the person they’ve assigned to make decisions for them) to override their written instructions. Naturally, they can also withhold that authority.

Signing a Five Wishes document invalidates all other advance directives currently in effect.

Some states require this document to be notarized (as indicated on the form). While the other states do not require this, it is wise to go ahead and get the document notarized.

Living Will

This directive has a very solid legal standing but is a bit limited in that it only comes into effect when a person has been determined to be in a terminal or PVS state and lacks decisional capacity (unable to make decisions).

A Living Will does not allow anyone to override the patient’s choices unless specifically indicated. If you wish to give your agent or physician that ability, you will need to make sure the document includes that authority.

This document can be combined with other advance directives, and the declarant (the person signing the directive) can also designate with whom providers may discuss the patient’s condition.

It should also be noted that the Living Will expires upon the person’s death so funeral directions, etc., are not legally binding.

Medical Durable Power of Attorney

funeral-wishesThe MDPOA has a much longer reach than many other types of advance directives. It essentially gives the right to the agent to make all healthcare decisions for the patient, including obtaining medical records, consulting with physicians, etc.

Unlike the Living Will, this directive can also go into effect while the patient is alert and communicative (if that authority is granted). An agent, however, cannot override the patient’s wishes unless specifically given that authority. The MDPOA can be used along with the Living Will.

It is important to note that this authority only extends to healthcare decisions.  It does not empower the agent to act in financial or other matters. Also, states may have varying statutes covering MDPOAs, so a directive executed in California may not have the same authority in Nevada. Generally speaking, there is a “good faith” recognition of directives in other states, but it isn’t guaranteed.

If you choose your spouse to be your agent, you should note that divorce or legal separation disqualifies them to act as your agent.

CPR Directive

This document is limited in scope as it only addresses your wishes regarding CPR. It is usually only used when a patient does not wish to be resuscitated in the event of a cardiopulmonary event (often referred to as a DNR or “do not resuscitate” order).

This document must be signed by a physician and generally applies outside the institution caring for the patient. For example, a DNR order given while a patient is in the hospital expires upon discharge whereas a CPR directive will remain in effect.

In some cases, this directive is placed on hold during surgery, so it is important to discuss this with care providers in advance of a procedure.

Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment (MOST)

This is a newer form of advance directive and may not recognized in all states. One of the main benefits of this directive is that it requires an in-depth discussion between the patient and their care provider regarding their care. It allows for a greater understanding and more complete direction of care.

Unlike other directives, it also includes provisions regarding artificial hydration and nutrition as well as antibiotic usage (in some conditions administering antibiotics can actually cause more complications than relief). It is signed by the patient’s care provider (which can be a licensed professional other than a physician) and acts as a medical order that is transferred between institutions.

It is a medical order rather than just an expression of a patient’s preferences and is designed for a chronically or seriously ill patient, or for someone who is a resident of a care facility (so that the provisions of care remain the same between facilities, hospitals, etc.).

Important notes

This directive doesn’t replace the need for other forms of an advance directive. It also does not appoint an agent.

A facility or care provider may refuse to recognize this document based on religious or moral convictions. In these situations, the patient or their agent must be notified of this refusal and offered transfer to a facility or provider who will comply.

 

There are other directives available, but these are the most common. If you are interested in a state-specific directive, you can visit this site to download the appropriate form.

Funeral Planning

The Five Wishes document is really the only advance directive that provides an opportunity for someone to include information about funeral planning.  What kind of funeral service or memorial, what type of music they want, how they wish to be remembered, etc.

Even if you wish to use a different form of directive, the Five Wishes form can be quite helpful in guiding the conversation with loved ones. It can be difficult and uncomfortable for many family members to have this talk, but it’s a necessary one.