What is a Basic Cremation?

In a day an age when everything seems to happen at warp speed it is no wonder that at some point we all hit a wall. Life is all about change and uncertainty. The one thing we can be certain of is that at some point we all face the final planning for a loved one. The question is where do you start.

Scouring the internet you will find a great deal of information available about pre-planning and traditional funeral planning. Unfortunately, little is offered to help those needing immediate planning for those seeking cremation as an option. Cremation is quickly becoming a popular option and it makes sense, it can be far cheeper and cremation offers a wealth of opportunities to memorialize you loved one.

But where you start and what do you need to know about cremation? Well the first thing you need to know is what a BASIC Cremation is.

A basic cremation package consists of the following:
Arrangements made with the family in the most expedient legal manner
Registration and documentation
Transfer of the deceased to the crematory during normal hours
Cremation service by a licensed crematory
Delivery of cremated remains and death certificate(s) to the family’s home
Rigid basic cremation container and basic white box for the ashes
Social Security notifications

Of course any upgrades to this basic cremation package would have to be discussed with a licensed funeral home.
What does something like this cost? Well that is tricky and mostly depends on where you live (or where this cremation would need to take place). Speaking of the location, just because you live in another location doesn’t mean you need to know someone where the services will occur. In fact there is even a place online that will guarantee a rate for basic services AND has already done the pre-interview with the funeral home to ensure the best quality and services.
Cremation Services International serves to put you in contact with a licensed funeral home within our network of providers. It should be noted that they are not a provider of actual cremations or funeral arrangements but they have taken the time to talk with and ensure a price no higher than $995 for the basic cremation. 

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Cemetery Plots: What to Do if You Have Unwanted Burial Property

Consider the following scenarios:

  • A man with a wife and three children, living in San Diego, CA learns that his recently deceased mother’s will bequeaths to him two cemetery plots in his hometown of Beaver, PA.  The plots, which are located just a few cemetery plots away from his grandparents, were purchased by his parents years ago.  This man has no intention of ever using these burial properties, and is at a loss for what to do with them.
  • A woman living in Jacksonville, FL, who was widowed at the age of 50, has recently been fortunate enough to find love again at the age of 62.  Though she looks forward to spending her remaining years with her second husband, she has not lost or forgotten her love for her first husband either.  Her second husband proposes the idea of pre-planning their funerals.  She realizes that she will have a problem, because her first husband is buried in West Palm Beach, FL, several hours from Jacksonville, and she has an already purchased burial plot located beside him.  Her second husband’s family all live in Jacksonville, and so naturally he would like to be buried there.  She decides that she will have her remains cremated then spread over both gravesites.  But the problem remains over what to do with the already purchased burial property in West Palm Beach?

In both of these cases, unwanted cemetery plots are at risk for going forever unused.  Some people don’t realize how valuable these unwanted cemetery plots truly are.  Though there is a monetary value associated with the burial property, there is also a value for some other family who will someday want to be able to be buried in those cemeteries.  If they don’t know that there are cemetery plots available, they won’t be able to make use of them.

If you have unwanted cemetery plots, it’s important that you don’t let your lack of knowledge of how to sell burial property keep you from making those cemetery plots available for someone who truly wants them.

What stops most people from selling their unused, unwanted burial property is lack of knowing how to find the right buyer for the property.  Selling burial property is not like selling your home.  You can’t put a For Sale sign on the cemetery plot and hope that a buyer comes along.

Some people try to sell unwanted cemetery plots through classified ads in the newspaper.  This is a terrible mistake, because frankly there are few people combing the classifieds every day, just hoping to be able to find burial property like you have listed.  The cost of running the ad will quickly eat up whatever profit you might have been able to make on the sale of the cemetery plot.  Why?  Because it can take years to have the right buyer need your exact burial property.

So how do you sell burial property?  The best and easiest way to sell your unwanted burial property is to make sure everyone knows that it is available.  The fastest and easiest way to have your burial property found is to register it for sale online.  When someone loses a loved one and starts their funeral planning process, one of the first things that person is most likely to do is to do an Internet search for “Funeral Planning” or “Final Arrangements.”

When the search results pop-up, they are going to want to find a resource that has all of the necessary information they need to properly plan the funeral, everything from the actual funeral planning process to how to find cemetery plots for sale.  What you need to do in order to sell your cemetery property, is to make sure you are registered with these all-inclusive types of companies.

Selling your burial property should not be an expensive thing to do.  Avoid companies or cemetery brokerages that charge commission fees, renewal fees, or advertising fees.  These companies are taking advantage of the fact that they know it will most likely take years to sell your burial property.  Instead choose a company that charges you one flat registration fee, one time.

Written By: C. Denise Stewart is a freelance writer living in Melbourne, Fl.  She is a regular contributor to “Funeral Services Advice” and writes frequently on the topic of funeral planning and  how to sell your unwanted cemetery plots.

Funeral Planning: What is a “Green” Funeral?

In recent years, efforts to “Go Green” have affected everything from your choice of disposable cups (ditch the Styrofoam) to the types of cars we buy (so long Hummer).  Not everyone realizes, though, that even funeral planning has been affected by our renewed environmental consciousness.  There is a growing trend within the funeral industry, prompted by environmental activists, to move to “Green” funerals.

So what is a Green funeral?  Green burial is known by several different names: Conservation Burial, Natural Burial, and eco-burials.  The three most basic differences between a regular burial and a Green burial are:

  • Formaldehyde is not used as an embalming fluid
  • No vault is typically built within the gravesite
  • Coffins are made out of biodegradable materials

The most significant difference in the burial process when funeral planning for a Green burial is the removal of formaldehyde as an embalming fluid.  Studies have shown that formaldehyde is a health risk for those who are exposed to it for long periods of time (like funeral workers).  There is also concern about what happens over time when it seeps into our waterways as the result of cemetery burials and decomposition.

Contrary to popular belief, embalming is not required by most states, unless transportation of the body is required across state lines, or a significant delay in burial is necessary.  In most cases a body can be kept preserved in a cooler or on dry ice for as long as four days.  In the event that embalming is deemed necessary, there are non-toxic embalming fluids now available, like glutaraldehyde.

The use of concrete vaults in gravesites has also come under criticism.  Some estimates say that as much as 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete is used each year in the U.S. as part of the burial process.  The frustration for many Green funeral enthusiasts is that most cemeteries require the use of reinforced vaults within the gravesite to help eliminate the settling of the land around the burial plot over time, making cemetery lawn maintenance more difficult.

In reaction to these requirements, there are an increasing number of Green Burial Grounds being established around the country.  If you are a conservationist, you should definitely consider self-arranged funeral planning to help ensure that you leave the world in the same way that you have tried to live in it.

Coffins made from materials such as wicker, bamboo, jute, or cardboard each provide rapid, biodegradable options.  Some people chose to skip a coffin altogether, opting instead to use shrouds.

Another option is to choose to skip a burial entirely, choosing instead to be cremated.  You should be sure to ask the crematorium what they are doing to reduce crematory emissions.  Though there is cause for concern regarding cremation to the carbon emissions and worries over mercury pollution, cause by the burning of mercury tooth fillings, the fact of the matter is, for people who live in areas where Green burial cannot take place due to cemetery regulations, cremation is ultimately a more environmentally friendly choice.

Another means of “Greening” your funeral planning, is to include plans for creating a memorial landscape, using native trees and plants.  This is a wonderful way to create a beautiful, meaningful memorial spot for someone who was cremated.

If your funeral planning is to include plans for a Green funeral, be sure to research more about the process.   The Green Burial Council is a nonprofit organization that was found to help promote and support natural burial options.  The Green Burial Council also certifies cemeteries and their operators as ecofriendly businesses.  You can access their list of approved providers by visiting their website.

Written By: C. Denise Stewart is a freelance writer living in Melbourne, Fl.  She is a regular contributor to “Funeral Services Advice” and writes frequently on the topic of funeral planning and how to sell cemetery plots.

Funeral Arrangements: The Last Minute Details

Few people plan ahead for their own funeral or that of a loved one.  Some of us are stopped by superstitious fears that by making funeral arrangements while someone is still living is just asking for trouble.

However, there are practical and considerate reasons for choosing to make funeral arrangements before it is absolutely necessary.  When death greets us, we are rarely prepared – emotionally or from a practical standpoint.  Making funeral arrangements now will help those you leave behind be better prepared and feel more at ease with the funeral arranging process.

Much of the confusion and, frankly, spending that comes with funeral arranging for someone recently deceased occurs because loved ones are often too overwhelmed with grief to feel confident in their decision making abilities. Rather than taking the time and careful consideration that they want to be able to take, they feel pressured to prepare the “prefect” final farewell for the deceased.  This can lead to overspending and elaborate, unnecessary demonstrations of love for the recently passed.

The last minute details can be especially difficult.  Who will speak at the funeral?  Is there anything special or significant that the deceased would like to be buried with?  If it’s an open casket, is there an outfit picked out?  These and other small details are the ones that can become particularly confusing for someone overcome with grief.

By make your own funeral arrangements ahead of time, you can help limit the confusion for your loved ones.  It can also be a very therapeutic exercise to envision and plan your own funeral.

Beyond the basic funeral arrangements of preferred method of burial (don’t feel obligated to pre-pay for burial space, though), location of funeral services, religious officiate and type of service, etc.  you should also leave directions for the smaller details as well.

Here are some examples of other funeral arrangements that need to be addressed as well:

Music

Is there particular music you would like played prior to the service, after the service, or even hymns sung during the service?  Create a song list with specific instructions for when you would like the music played.

Speakers

Are there people you would like to have speak at your funeral?  Keep in mind that asking someone to speak at your funeral may be difficult for some, primarily because of their fear of speaking in front of large groups.  If this is the case, you may decide to pick out a poem or passage from a religious text that means a lot to you.  You should discuss your wishes with the person when you are pre-planning your funeral arrangements so that they are not taken off guard during their time of grief.

Ambiance

Some people don’t want their funerals to be sad or morose affairs.  Instead they hope to have celebrate their time here with an upbeat and positive memorial service.  If this is the case for you, then try to think of things that will help create that ambiance for your loved ones.  Perhaps you can ask that everyone wear clothing supporting your favorite sports team, or everyone wears your favorite color.  Or perhaps you choose a location for the services that is not typically associated with death and dying – like a local park.

A Message From You

A wonderful demonstration of your love for those you will leave behind is to leave a note or letter with your funeral arrangements to be read by someone during your funeral services, or included in the funeral program so that everyone can keep a copy of it.  This should be a warm and compassionate memento, letting each person know how much they meant to you, and also providing an uplifting message that helps them come to terms with your loss.

It’s the small funeral arrangement details that are often the most difficult for loved ones to plan.  Pre-planning your own funeral is a demonstration of your love and care for them, even after you’ve passed on.

Written By: C. Denise Stewart is a freelance writer living in Melbourne, Fl.  She is a regular contributor to “Funeral Services Advice” and writes frequently on the topic of the planning of funeral arrangements.

Cemetery Plots: The Reality of Selling Cemetery Plots

There have been recent reports of people choosing to list their unwanted cemetery plots and burial property in places like Craigslist, Ebay, and the classifieds.  If you own unused cemetery plots, beware of these less than practical solutions to trying to sell your unwanted burial property.

One of the main reasons most people resort to these kinds of selling tactics for burial property is because they are hoping to be able to sell their burial property very quickly – as in by next weekend.  However, this is a completely impractical expectation.  Selling cemetery plots is not like selling anything else, and resorting to tactics that make sense when selling a used car or loveseat will only leave you frustrated and disappointed.

The reality is, cemetery plots are only needed when someone dies.  As morbid as that may sound, it’s the truth.  Not only must someone die, but their loved ones must also have plans to bury them in the cemetery where you own unwanted cemetery plots.  It’s really a very chance occurrence, and one you don’t want to rely on an expensive classified ad or limited time only Ebay auction to assist you with.

News reporter Steve Gelbach of Fox 35 news in Orlando recently reported on an Ocala, FL man who chose to list his burial property for sale on Craigslist.  The man was accepting money, or a trade of a small car or truck because, according to the seller, “Selling burial property is hard, but selling a car or truck is easy.”

Therein lies the truth of the matter when it comes to selling burial property.  People who list cemetery plots and burial property for sale have an expectation that it should sell immediately, or at least within a few months.  The fact of the matter is, however, that cemetery plots take sometimes years to find that right mix of recently deceased and burial location.

Some analysts think that the inability to sell burial property quickly is the result of more people preferring to be cremated than ever before.  To some extent, this may be true, but only in certain areas of the country.

For example, according to the Cremation Association of North America, the states with the highest cremation rates in 2006 were: Nevada (68.41%), Washington (67.57%), Hawaii (65.6%), and Oregon (65.25%).  The states with the lowest rates of cremation were: Mississippi (9.56%), Alabama (11.05%), Kentucky (12.32%), and Tennessee (15.99%).  The cremation rates for most states fell somewhere between 20% and 30%.

Given these figures, one can assume that selling cemetery plots in the states that have the highest rates of cremation may indeed be more of a challenge than the states where traditional burial is in higher demand.  However, to blame cremation rats entirely for the inability to sell burial property quickly using methods best reserved for homes and cars is shortsighted.

When needing to find burial property quickly, most people rely on funeral directors.  A great way to sell your burial property more quickly is to make sure that the funeral homes in your area have your burial property information.  This is easily – and very inexpensively – done by putting all of your contact information along with specific information regarding the cemetery and cemetery plot location on an index card and taking it to the funeral homes personally.  This way the funeral directors have the information at hand.

Another affordable solution – and one that can be used in addition to handing out your information to local funeral homes – is to register the property with an online cemetery registry, preferably one that is found on the first pages of all the top search engines, like Google and Yahoo.  To find these registries, simply go to a search engine search page and type in “cemetery plots for sale.”  The top companies are going to be your best bet.

If you do go the route of choosing an online cemetery registry, beware of any company that charges you anything more than a one-time registration fee.  There is no need to pay commissions,  or renewal fees for selling or registering your burial property.

Written By: C. Denise Stewart is a freelance writer living in Melbourne, Fl.  She is a regular contributor to “Funeral Services Advice” and writes frequently on the topic of  how to sell cemetery plots.

The Funeral Planning Guide: Feeling Compelled to Speak

The funeral of a loved one often comes as a complete surprise.  Rarely do we plan for the untimely passing of family and friends.  And even when someone close to us has been ill for some time and warnings have been given to prepare for their passing, death can still come as a shock to most of us.

When planning to attend the funeral of your friend or family member, you may want to prepare a few words to say.  For some people the thought of standing in front of room of people and speaking in any circumstance is nothing short of terrifying.  Considering doing so in the midst of grief can seem impossible.  However, many people are surprised to discover that during the funeral services they in fact sometimes feel compelled to speak.  If this happens to you, it’s best to be prepared ahead of time.

What do I say?

Perhaps you feel like you should share something – anything – but you feel at a loss for knowing what to say.  Preparing a few words before you go to the funeral, even if you have no intention at all of speaking, will help give you the confidence you need to face your fears so that you can honor your lost loved one or friend.  Here are a few ideas of things to say:

Tell a story – If you have known the deceased for many, many years and have dozens of stories to choose from, this is a good option for you.  Family and friends enjoy hearing funny stories, or heartwarming stories about the departed.  Just be sure that the humor is appropriate for all in attendance, and that the humor is meant in a loving way – gentle teasing about personality traits, or adventure tales from younger days are usually good options.

Read a Poem or Religious Passage – If you can’t think of a story to tell, you may want to select a poem or religious passage to read.  The selection to reflect the personality of or your affections for the deceased.  A nice added touch is to make a nice copy – perhaps laminated or framed – as a gift for the family.

When do I say something?

If the funeral has a religious ceremony as part of the services, generally the time for volunteers to come to the front of the group will be saved for after the ceremonies are completed.

It is usually polite to wait to allow all family members to speak first.  If you are a family member, you may want to arrange with your other family members ahead of time in which order you will be speaking.  If you are a friend or acquaintance of the deceased, then it is best to wait for a pause that seems of some minimal length before volunteering to speak.

How do I start?  How do I finish?

When you first approach the front of the group, it is polite to introduce yourself and your relationship to the deceased.  You can include the length of time that you knew him or her, as well as any brief words relating to the person’s character.  For example:

“Hello, my name is Dan and I have worked with Steven for the last fifteen years at Harper and Harper.  Dan was such a warm and generous person, and he is truly missed by all of us at work.”

The best way to finish your time in front of the group is to express your sympathies to the family before taking your seat.  For example:

“Linda, Debbie, I am so sorry for your loss.  Steven was a good man and a great friend, and I feel truly blessed to have known him.”

Being prepared to speak at the funeral of a family member or friend will help you cope with your grief.  Speaking at a funeral is one way many people find closure and acceptance of their loss.  It is also a wonderful way to honor the memory of your loved one.

Written By: C. Denise Stewart is a freelance writer living in Melbourne, Fl.  She is a regular contributor to “Funeral Services Advice” and writes frequently on the topic of funeral planning.

Cemetery Plots for Sale: How to Finalize the Transfer of Your Burial Property

For those individuals who have cemetery plots for sale, one frequently asked question is exactly how does the final transfer of burial property actually happen?

It is highly recommended that prior to listing your burial property, you take the necessary steps to ensure that your cemetery plots for sale are “Immediate Need Ready.”  What does “Immediate Need Ready” mean?

Immediate Need Ready cemetery plots for sale are those plots that are ready to transfer to a buyer within 12 to 72 hours of initial contact.  Roughly 80% of all cemetery plots are sold on an immediate need basis.  In other words, someone’s loved one may die today and that person will need to find a burial place for that person sometime within the next 72 hours.

To ensure that your cemetery plots for sale are ready to be transferred immediately,  you will need to contact the cemetery where the plots are located and ask the following questions:

  • How do I transfer burial rights to someone in the lot(s) that I own within the next 72 hours?
  • What paperwork must be completed?
  • Do I need to call someone in order to transfer the burial rights, or does the family or funeral director do that?
  • How do I insure that all billing associated with the burial, include open and close of the burial site, is sent to the family to whom I am giving permission to bury to?

Take good notes, including names and dates of people to whom you’ve spoken or corresponded with.  When you are satisfied that you know the requirements by the cemetery of how to transfer the cemetery plots for sale, you are ready to register your burial property.

Keeping in mind that it can take years to sell your burial property, once a buyer has expressed interest in your cemetery plot,  the actual transfer process is relatively easy.

When transferring the deed to your cemetery plot, typically cemeteries use a single page document called a Quit Claim.  The cemetery should be able to send the document to you or help you with the transfer.  This is usually handled without hassle on the part of the cemetery officials.

The exchange of money is something to consider ahead of time as well.  Typically it is recommended that you establish an escrow account or electronic deposit number with your bank.  You want to eliminate the use of checks or money orders if at all possible.  And you definitely need to establish payment before any final cemetery plot transfers occur.

A word of caution for those with cemetery plots for sale.  Beware cemetery brokerage companies who charge a commission or representation fee, or both.  These cemetery brokers must possess a license to act as a broker in the state where the cemetery plot is being sold.  In almost all states there are very strict rules that cemetery brokers must follow.

It is not necessary for you to hire a cemetery broker to handle your cemetery plots for sale.  Your best financial option is to register the property with a company that attracts both buyers and sellers of burial property.  One such option is The Cemetery Registry. Ideally the company you do choose to register your cemetery property with should only charge you a one-time registration fee.  There is no need to pay any renewal fees, commissions, advertising fees, finder’s fees, etc.

Selling your burial property can be a very affordable, easy task to accomplish.  Just be sure that your property is Immediate Need Ready, that you understand how to transfer the deed, have a method for collecting payment that doesn’t require the use of personal checks or money orders, and that you have the property registered somewhere that charges a one-time flat fee for listing your burial property.

Written By: C. Denise Stewart is a freelance writer living in Melbourne, Fl.  She writes frequently on the topic of funeral planning and information on how to sell cemetery plots.