The cremation trend is today changing the way we think about arranging a funeral. Cremation is fast becoming a preferred option to burial with more than 50% of families now choosing cremation.
How funeral care is changing and economic reasons for choosing cremation
Deciding whether to bury or cremate is a personal choice. For some families the decision is dictated by the budget they have for a funeral and as a cremation service will cost less than a traditional burial, this becomes a more affordable funeral option. 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 is a traditional funeral in Augusta, GA
The average cost of a traditional funeral service in Augusta is $7,005*. This does not include any cemetery costs though, so the full cost of a funeral burial is likely to be nearer to $9,000.
How much does a cremation cost in Augusta, GA?
Cremation prices in Augusta 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 average cost of a cremation memorial service in Augusta is $3,946 but a basic cremation can be conducted for much less. A simple, direct cremation can be conducted for as little as $995, although the average cost for a direct cremation was surveyed at $1,311.
With 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.
How to compare cremation costs in Augusta?
The cost of a cremation can vary enormously – for the exact same service – and from different providers of cremation services in Augusta. So 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 disposition permits are often additional ‘cash advance’ items.
What are the additional fees that may be added to a cremation cost?
The death certificates are generally an additional fee as these are third-party costs that the funeral home must pay to Richmond County. A death certificate costs $25 for the first certificate and $5 for each additional copy ordered. It is usually advisable to have several copies for closing the deceased estate.
Disposition permits are issued to allow the cremation to proceed. At present there is no charge for disposition permits in Georgia.
How 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 Augusta, GA
There are stringent laws and operating practices governing the cremation of human remains. A cremation cannot be performed until a disposition permit is issued by the medical examiner’s office. The legal next of kin must sign a Cremation Authorization Form. There is a mandatory 24-hour wait period after the death in Georgia before the cremation can be done. 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 if I am not sure about cremation or the family cannot agree about cremation?
Cremation is such a final disposition, you do need to ensure that you are completely sure that this IS the ‘right’ disposition choice for you. Certain laws are in place to ensure this final disposition can only proceed if the legal next of kin has authorized it. A Cremation Authorization Form must be signed by the legal next of kin, and in the case of children, many funeral directors will insist all children sign.
You can authorize an agent for your final disposition or sign the authorization when you preplan a cremation.
What can we do with the cremated remains?
Cremation can offer greater flexibility in what you can do with the remains. 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 making 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?
Sadly, 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 Richmond County Human Services Department to inquire at:
Richmond County DFCS
520 Fenwick Street
Augusta, Georgia 30903-2277
Phone Number (706) 721-3000
The deceased is held at the County Morgue. How do I claim the body from the Medical Examiner?
In cases where the deceased has been transferred into the care of the Coroner or Medical Examiner, you still need to employ the services of a funeral home, as only a licensed funeral director can collect the deceased from the county morgue.
Most funeral homes are familiar with the process and can work with the ME to get the body released as soon as possible. You can also arrange a simple, low cost cremation with your selected funeral services provider, as often costs can be maintained low when the deceased is at the Medical Examiner’s office at 912 8th Street, Augusta, GA 30060.
Hopefully this brief article has helped answer a few questions you have about arranging affordable cremation services. Please visit our resource section for more information.
*Prices obtained May 2017 from online funeral price comparison website – Parting