Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions
about funerals. Many more answers appear in the FAQ's
of each individual section of this website.
What is the cost of the average funeral?
Between $5000-7000. Costs can be reduced a number of ways. Many things can
be done by the individual rather than waiting for the funeral service provider to
do it all.

A typical funeral home funeral includes: 1 embalming, 1 hearse, 1 visitation, 1
funeral ceremony at the church or the funeral home, often one limousine, and
the average cost for this is $5000-7000. If you have a cemetery burial, you can
count on another $2000-3000. In fact, it’s not uncommon to hear of $10,000

According to the Funeral Consumers Alliance
We pay twice as much in America for a funeral as they do in England, France
and Australia.
Is it necessary to wear black to a funeral?
In the U.S., black is generally considered the color of mourning. When someone
attends a funeral, it is either to pay respect to the deceased or to show respect to
the family. It is considered improper to draw attention to yourself. That is the
reason people wear colors that are subdued or muted unless instructed otherwise.

Funeral Etiquette)
What should I
choose burial
or cremation?
Am I required
to have a
funeral at any
particular place?
Where can I buy
a casket?
More Questions and Answers are forthcoming
Please keep checking back for updates

Also check for FAQ pages within each different
category throughout the site
Is Embalming is required by law?
Embalming is never required for the first 24 hours.
In many states, it's not required at all under any circumstances. Refrigeration is
almost always an alternative to embalming if there will be a delay before final
Does Embalming protect the public health?
There is no public health purpose served by embalming. In fact, the embalming
process may create a health hazard by exposing embalmers to disease and toxic
chemicals. In many cases, disease can still be found in an embalmed body. A
dead body is less of a threat to public health than a live one.
How long does Embalming last?
Mortuary-type embalming is meant to hold the body only for a week or so.
Ultimately, the body will decompose, even if it has been embalmed.
Temperature and climate are more influential factors affecting the rate of
Is a Viewing necessary for "closure" after a death?
When the death has been anticipated, family members have already started their
"good-byes." There is relatively little need to see the body to accept the reality
of death. In fact, according to a 1990 study commissioned by the funeral
industry, 32% of those interviewed found the viewing experience an unpleasant
one for a variety of reasons.
A cemetery lot or niche?
No, there is no reason you can't keep the cremated remains in whatever type of
container you choose. In ALL states it is legal to scatter or bury cremated
remains on private property (with the land-owner's permission). Cremation is
considered "final disposition" because there is no longer any health hazard.
What is left after the cremation process?
When people think of "ashes" they envision what you'd find in the fireplace or a
campfire. However, what remains after the cremation process are bone
fragments, like broken seashells. These are pulverized to a small dimension,
similar to aquarium gravel.
Do "Protective" caskets preserve the body?
While gasketed caskets may keep out air, water, and other outside elements for a
while, the body will decompose regardless. In fact, a gasketed or "sealer" casket
interferes with the natural dehydration that would otherwise occur. Fluids are
released from the body as it begins to decompose, and the casket is likely to rust
out from the inside.
Are Coffin vaults are required by law?
No state has a law requiring burial vaults. Most cemeteries, however, do have
such regulations because the vault keeps the grave from sinking in after
decomposition of the body and casket, reducing maintenance for the cemetery
workers. Grave liners are usually less expensive than vaults. New York state
forbids cemeteries from requiring vaults or liners, in deference to religious
traditions that require burial directly in the earth. Those who have started
"green" burial grounds do not permit vaults or metal caskets.
Is it a good idea to prepay for a funeral, to lock in prices?
Funeral directors selling preneed funerals expect the interest on your money to
pay for any increase in prices. They wouldn't let you prepay unless there was
some benefit for the funeral home, such as capturing more market share or being
allowed to pocket some of your money now. Prepaid funeral money is not well-
protected against embezzlement in most states. Furthermore, if you were to
move, die while traveling, or simply change your mind—from body burial to
cremation, perhaps—you may not get all your money back or transferred to a
new funeral home. The interest on your money, in a pay-on-death account at
your own bank, should keep up with inflation and will let you stay in control. As
more low-cost, low-overhead funeral operations are opening up, some prices
may go down in the future in areas with open price competition.
Does a pre-need contract, take care of everything?
cannot be included in a pre-need contract because these items are Extra charges
after an autopsy, clergy honoraria, obituary notices, flowers, the crematory fee
or grave opening are typical examples. All such items will be paid for by the
decedent's estate or family, in addition to what has already been paid for in the
pre-need contract.
Is Insurance is a good way to pay for a funeral?
Inflation is generally less than what is earned by money in a trust. Interest
accrued by an insurance policy may be outpaced by funeral When a funeral is
paid for with funeral insurance, either the funeral director will absorb the loss
(and many reluctantly do)

If what you have is life insurance, not funeral insurance, it may be considered an
asset when applying for Medicaid. In that case, you'll have to cash it in, getting
pennies on the dollar. The same may be true if you're making time payments on
your funeral insurance, and, in hard times, you decide to stop making payments.
In fact, the company may be able to keep everything you paid, as "liquidated
How do I deal with a death while away from home?
While dealing with death is difficult, it can be much more difficult to deal with a
death while away from home. We have some procedures and information
available on the following page:
(see: Death Away from Home)
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