Frequently Asked Questions
When A Death Occurs
When a death occurs in your family, you will be faced with important tasks and decision-making during a very difficult time. You may not know what to do or when to begin making arrangements, and bearing the responsibility can be overwhelming. Remember that you are not alone: we are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to assist you with the details and offer our guidance. We have compiled the following list to help guide you through the steps you will need to take when a death has occurred. Your funeral director will help coordinate all of the details when you meet for an arrangement conference.
We will then set an appointment time for you to come to the funeral home to complete the details of the funeral arrangement. We will ask you to bring in some items and information that will be necessary to complete the arrangement. These items include:
- After a death has occurred, notify Moore and Snear Funeral Home by calling (610) 828-0330. The following are some questions that we may ask when you call:
- What is the full name of the deceased?
- What is the location of the deceased (Hospital, Nursing Facility, or Residence)?
- What is your name, address, and telephone number?
- What is the name, address, and phone number of the next-of-kin?
- Is there a pre-arranged funeral plan? (If yes, what is the plan name or number?)
- Clothing for the deceased.
- Social Security Number of the deceased.
- The deceased's birth date, city, and state of birth.
- The deceased's parents names, including mother's maiden name.
- Information about the deceased's education.
- Marital status of the deceased.
- Vetheran's discharge papers or Claim Number.
- A recent photograph of the deceased.
- Pre-arrangement paperwork (if applicable).
- Cemetery lot information (if applicable).
- Contact your clergy. Decide on a time and place for the funeral or memorial service (the services may be held at the funeral home).
- The funeral home will assist you in determining the number of copies of the death certificates that you will need and will order them for you.
- Make a list of family, friends, and business colleagues and notify each by phone. You may wish to use a "branching" system: make a few phone calls to other relatives or friends and ask each of them to make a phone call or two to specific people.
- Decide on an appropriate charity to which gifts may be made (church, hospice, library, organization, school).
- Gather obituary information, including a photo, age, place of birth, cause of death, occupation, college degrees, memberships held, military service, outsanding work, and a list or survivors in the immediate family. Include the time and place of the funeral services. The funeral home will usually write the obituary and submit it to the newspaper(s).
- Arrange for family members and/or close friends to take turns answering the door or phone. Keeping a careful record of visitors and flower deliveries will make it easier to thank people later on.
- If Social Security checks are deposited automatically, notify the bank of the death.
- Coordinate the food supply in your home for the next several days.
- Delegate special needs of the househod; such as cleaning, food preparation, etc., to freinds and family who offer their help.
- Arrange for child care, if necessary.
- Arrange hospitality for visiting relatives and friends.
- Select pallbearers and notify the funeral home. (People with heart or back difficulties may be named honorary pallbearers).
- Plan for the disposition of flowers after the funeral (to a church, hospital, or rest home).
- Prepare a list of distant freinds and relatives to be notified by letter and/or printed notice.
- Prepare a list of people to receive acknowledgements of flowers, calls, etc. Send appropriate acknowledgments, which may be a written note, printed acknowledgements, or both. Include "thanky you's" to those who have given their time, as well.
- Notify insurance companies of the death.
- Locate the will and notify the lawyer and executor.
- Carefully check all life, casualty insurance, and death benefits, including: Social Security, credit union, trade union, fraternal, and military. Check on possible income for survivors from these sources.
- Check promptly on all debts and installments payments, including credit cards. Some may carry insurance clasues that will cancel them. If there is to be a delay in meeting payments, consult with creditors and ask for more time before the payments are due.
- If the deceased was living alone, notify the utility companies and landlord. Also, tell the post office where to send the mail.
- Your Funeral Director will prepare the necessary Social Security forms.
DEATH AWAY FROM HOME
When funeral arrangements must unexpectedly be made away from home, and family hearts are filled with mixed emotions, it is difficult to consider costs. If you want to limit costs, the best practice is to contact the funeral firm in the area where the funeral service and burial is to take place.
WHAT TO DO FIRST
CALL Moore and Snear Funeral Home AT 610-828-0330 day or night.
We take charge from then on and make all the arrangements for conveying of the deceased to the local funeral home for embalming and preparation for return to their home state. You only need contact us with some basic information and call us when you return to set a time for an arrangement conference. For us to assume the costs as outlined, the death must have occurred in one of the forty-eight contiguous states and you must call us direct so we can engage our representatives at the place of death. (DO NOT contact a funeral firm where the death occurs. We will do this for you.)
The standard receiving policy in most other funeral homes is to give you a credit for the embalming against their standard prices. You must pay all other charges such as transfer casket, transfer container, out-of-town funeral home facilities, professional and staff services, transfer documents and transportation charges. These costs can easily mount up to $1200 dollars or more, depending on the cost of transportation and charges of the out-of-town funeral home. Transportation costs differ and fees are not uniform from funeral firm to funeral firm, so we cannot say exactly how much this might be.
WHAT DO YOU SAVE?
We pay all most normal out-of-town costs except cash advances. These normal charges include out-of-town removal service, standard embalming, transfer of remains to airport, outer transfer container, all documents for transfer and burial, out-of-town funeral facilities, professional staff and services. This means your only additional costs are transportation and transfer of remains to the funeral home from the airport. Since we use a light weight transfer casket and outer container we help to keep the air fare to a minimum.
If a family member dies while traveling outside the United States, the U.S. Embassy will come to your assistance. You should call us immediately when a death occurs abroad. We are well-versed in the procedures for returning the deceased to the United States.
If the death occurs outside of the forty-eight contiguous states or your family has already engaged another funeral firm, Moore and Snear Funeral Home will apply liberal credits to services provided by others when selecting one of our complete full-service funerals. Our membership in the National Funeral Directors Association as well a memberships in other national organizations provide us with funeral service contacts world wide.
Funeral & Burial Questions
What purpose does a funeral serve?
It is the customary way to recognize death and its finality. Funerals are recognized rituals for the living to show respect for the dead and to help survivors begin the grief process.
What do funeral directors do?
Funeral directors are caregivers and administrators. They make the arrangements for transportation of the body, complete all necessary paperwork, and implement the choices made by the family regarding the funeral and final disposition of the body. Funeral directors are listeners, advisors and supporters. They have experience assisting the bereaved in coping with death. Funeral directors are trained to answer questions about grief, recognize when a person is having difficulty coping, and recommend sources of professional help. Funeral directors also link survivors with support groups at the funeral home or in the community.
Do you have to have a funeral director to bury the dead?
In most states, family members may bury their own dead although regulations vary. However, most people find it very trying to be solely responsible for arranging the details and legal matters surrounding a death.
Why have a public viewing?
Viewing is part of many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death. Viewing is encouraged for children, as long as the process is explained and the activity voluntary.
Is it possible to have a traditional funeral if someone dies of AIDS?
Yes, A person who dies of an AIDS-related illness is entitled to the same service options afforded to anyone else. If public viewing is consistent with local or personal customs, that option is encouraged. Touching the deceased's face or hands is perfectly safe.
Because the grief experienced by survivors may include a variety of feelings, survivors may need even more support than survivors of non-AIDS-related deaths.
Isn't burial space becoming scarce?
While it is true some metropolitan areas have limited available cemetery space, in most areas of the country, there is enough space set aside for the next 50 years without creating new cemeteries. In addition, land available for new cemeteries is more than adequate, especially with the increase in entombment and multi-level grave burial.
What is the purpose of embalming?
Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, retards the decomposition process, and enhances the appearance of a body disfigured by traumatic death or illness.
Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, thus allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them.
Does a dead body have to be embalmed, according to law?
No. Most states, however, require embalming when death was caused by a reportable contagious disease or when remains are to be transported from one state to another by common carrier or if final disposition is not to be made within a prescribed number of hours.
Is cremation a substitute for a funeral?
No, cremation is an alternative to earth burial or entombment for the body's final disposition and often follows a traditional funeral service.
Is cremation as a means of disposition increasing?
According to the Cremation Association of North America (CANA), cremation was the disposition of choice in about 27% of all deaths in the United States in the year 2001. It is projected that the percentage will rise to about 39% in 2010 and 47% in 2025. These figures represent the United States as a whole; individual states may have lower or higher rates of cremation. (Source: Cremation Association of North America)
So, I've decided on cremation. Can I still have a funeral or a viewing?
Yes, quite often some sort of viewing precedes the actual cremation. Your Funeral Home can assist you with the necessary information for a funeral with a cremation following or a memorial service.
Funeral Cost Questions
Why are funerals so expensive?
When compared to other major life cycle events, like births and weddings, funerals are not expensive. A wedding costs at least three times as much; but because it is a happy event, wedding costs are rarely criticized.
A funeral home is a 24-hour, labor-intensive business, with extensive facilities (viewing rooms, chapels, limousines, hearses, etc.), these expenses must be factored into the cost of a funeral.
Moreover, the cost of a funeral includes not only merchandise, like caskets, but the services of a funeral director in making arrangements; filing appropriate forms; dealing with doctors, ministers, florists, newspapers and others; and seeing to all the necessary details.
Contrary to popular belief, funeral homes are largely family-owned with a modest profit margin.
What recourse does a consumer have for poor service or overcharging?
Funeral service is regulated by the FTC and state licensing boards. In most cases, the consumer should discuss problems with the funeral director first. If the dispute cannot be solved by talking with the funeral director, the consumer may wish to contact the Funeral Service Consumer Assistance Program. FSCAP provides information, mediates disputes, provides arbitration, and maintains a consumer guarantee fund for reimbursement of services rendered. (To contact FSCAP, call (708) 827-6337 or (800) 662-7666).
Do funeral directors take advantage of the bereaved?
Funeral directors are caring individuals who help people deal with a very stressful time. They serve the same families 80% of the time, and many have spent most of their lives in the same community. If they took advantage of bereaved families, they could not stay in business. The fact that the average funeral home has been in business over 59 years shows that most funeral directors respect the wishes of the bereaved families.
Is it right to make a profit from death?
Funeral directors look upon their profession as a service, but it is also a business. Like any business, funeral homes must make a profit to exist. As long as the profit is reasonable and the services rendered are necessary, complete, and satisfactory to the family, profit is legitimate.
Don't funeral directors mark caskets up tremendously, at least 400%?
No. Talking about the mark up on caskets is really not the point. Most items--clothing, furniture, jewelry--are marked up as much or more than caskets. The real question is whether the funeral director is making an excessive profit, And that answer is "No." Profits run around 12.5% before taxes -- not excessive by any standard.
Who pays for funerals for the indigent?
Other than the family, there are veteran, union, and other organizational benefits to pay for funerals, including, in certain instances, a lump sum death payment from Social Security. In most states, some form of public aid allowances are available from either the state, county, or city or a combination.
Most funeral directors are aware of the various benefits and know how to obtain them for the indigent. However, funeral directors often absorb costs above and beyond what is provided by agencies to insure the deceased a respectable burial.
What to do if Death Occurs
What should I do if the death occurs in the middle of the night or on the weekend?
Most Funeral Directors are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Will someone come right away?
If you request immediate assistance, yes. If the family wishes to spend a short time with the deceased to say good bye, it's acceptable. They will come when your time is right.
If a loved one dies out of state , can the local Funeral Home still help?
Yes, they can assist you with out-of-state arrangements, either to transfer the remains to another state or from another state.