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Prescott Valley Tribune | Prescott Valley, Arizona

home : features : community November 24, 2015

8/22/2012 8:55:00 AM
Funeral pre-planning prevents family fractures
Courtesy photo
Courtesy photo

Sue Tone

Doing the research now for your future funeral will help alleviate emotional and financial stress on family members.

Kathie Reis, family care specialist with Heritage Memory Mortuary, told more than 50 people attending a free Frank Funeral Facts workshop at Sacred Heart Church in Prescott July 27 that preplanning a funeral can be a simple process.

Reis explained the practical and emotional reasons for planning ahead, cremation versus burial options, the typical cost of funeral services, and how pre-funding works. Many people don't want to talk about death, much less plan for it. But the topic should not be left for the elderly or terminally ill, she said.

The number one reason families argue after a death is because of funeral merchandise, she said. "They feel guilty for overspending or they feel guilty for underspending."

When a person plans - and perhaps even prepays - for what he or she wishes done, it takes the pressure, anxiety and urgency off family members.

Reis warned that funeral homes ask for money upfront, but it often takes three weeks to obtain a death certificate necessary to collect life insurance to pay for burial costs - and those costs can run into thousands of dollars.

Most people in the Prescott area opt for cremation, she said, which is less expensive yet still provides options for traditional services with viewing. The State of Arizona does, however, require embalming for viewing situations.

About $2,000 covers cremation costs (without embalming), and urns start at $35. If the urn is placed in a niche, find out the dimensions of the space first, she advised. Some veterans cemeteries also provide space for a spouse's cremains.

If a person formalizes a wish for a casket burial and the family wants cremation, the cremation won't happen, Reis said. In addition to paying for a casket and plot, other costs can run into the thousands of dollars - even when the same company owns the funeral home and the cemetery.

These costs may include embalming or refrigeration expenses; visitation, services, and transportation to the cemetery ($5,000); a burial vault required by some cemeteries to prevent sinkholes ($1,000); vault-setting fee; opening and closing of grave; marker ($300 and up); marker-setting fee; medical examiner's fee ($20); certified copies of death certificates ($20 each); and obituary.

Then there's the cost of transporting a body when the person dies out of state, or when the person lives in a state other than where he or she wants to be buried. Forwarding remains can cost $1,850; receiving remains, $1,200; and cargo charges, $500-$600.

If people have not preplanned their funeral, it's up to the spouse and children to make arrangements, and all must be in agreement.

"If you pre-plan, it's a done deal," Reis said. People also can write their own obituaries, and select prayer cards or memorial folders.

Green burials or eco-embalming is another possible choice. Green burials use plant derivatives and natural oils for embalming rather than formaldehyde and other chemicals. Cemeteries must have a dedicated section for green burials, as everything decays and returns to nature. There is no vault, no plastic and no metal used. Green burials are about 65 percent less expensive than a traditional burial service.

The Senior Connection Speakers Bureau sponsors free educational presentations almost weekly in the quad-cities. For more information, contact Debbie Stewart at (928) 778-3747 or visit

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