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We just put my brother into hospice so I’ve been looking at cremation. All the websites for funeral homes and cremation businesses I’ve looked at have pricing details. Cremation businesses that solely do cremations generally are less expensive than funeral homes. Funeral homes have larger price packages with more items that can be dropped—like programs, flowers, etc. I’m also looking to do a funeral trust as a spend down towards his Medicaid. I want to have it all paid for up front. One less thing to worry about.
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Reply to katepaints
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I think it would be your preference to pay now or later. Before the pandemic I was getting ready to prepay. In December my husband passed and the coast went up from last year. I would call several places to see what they have to say. My understanding the money goes into a type of a barrial fund and if all the money is not used for funeral services you can lose any money remaining in the barrial fund. I would get all the facts first especially if you are trying to do a spend down to get on Medicaid.
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Reply to alzdone
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Ask for the final cost. When I was calling for my dad I would be given a price and then they would start adding services that were required for the cremation.

I don't understand why they don't just give you that to begin with and then explain differences in cost for things that are choices.

I asked "How much will it cost to have my 220lb dad cremated and picked up? Total price with minimal urn?"

It was double what the cremation cost. There are permits, burn boxes, transportation, fees to remove hardware and urns, maybe a couple of things I have forgotten. It was surprising how deceptive the pricing was.

Ask for a written quote so that you know exactly what you are looking at.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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Donate the body to your closest Medical School. They'll send the cremains back to you when they're done.
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Reply to ZippyZee
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Geaton777 Apr 2, 2021
I read a post by a contributor on this forum that one can donate their body to science but if the institute chooses to not use the body, the family will "get it back" and thus still need to bring closure to the remains themselves. So, I think I would research this option very carefully before assuming it's an answer.
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Whenever and whatever funerary choices you make, please consider:
1 - transportation from home, morgue, or hospital is included
2 - any extra charges for after-hours pick-ups
3 - limitations on mileage or extra charges if must travel further.
4 - usually, the cremated person is placed on/in a cardboard liner and placed into the chamber.
5 - time with deceased before cremation
6 - remains delivered or picked up
7 - do you need to provide a container or will one be provided
8 - if you decide to donate the body to a med school, you will need to pay transportation charges and charges for preparation of the body
9 - Some places have research facilities that allow donation of tissues for research. If the deceased qualifies, then the facility usually pays for transportation, tissue harvest, and cremation. The remains are available in 3-4 weeks.
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Reply to Taarna
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Imho, many elders prepay funeral expenses. Also, some wish to donate to science - if this sounds too grotesque to you, I only mentioned it as as way to reduce expenses.
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Reply to Llamalover47
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I used a funeral home that does cremations for my husband. We did not have have any service or any extras, just the "simple cremation package" which cost just under $1200.
I did not shop around for prices b/c this was a very upscale Mortuary, and I appreciated the atmosphere and the professionalism whatever the cost.
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Reply to RedVanAnnie
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My parents prepaid for the funeral home to prepare their remains for burial and the cemetery for where their remains were to rest. They were to go straight from the funeral home to the cemetery - no muss, no fuss. They neither one wanted a funeral. At dad's death I still had to go to the funeral home and deal with them. My parents picked out the cheapest casket - the funeral home asked if I wanted it upgraded - no this is what they wanted. What about a memorial service - no they didn't want one. There were minimal extra costs - while the casket was prepaid the tax of the casket couldn't be prepaid - at least not in Missouri - and cost of 5 certified death certificates - I only used one. I did not have them put notice in newspaper and did this later myself - it took a little more space than what was free in the paper.

When I was putting together paperwork for getting dad on medicaid, when he to go to LTC, I found the funeral home and cemetery were not irrevocable and visited each facility to take care of it. The funeral home was easy and I don't believe cost extra. However at the cemetery Dad had failed to pay for the 2nd engraving which of course cost more than it would have had he taken care of it at the time. After giving them mom's credit card to pay for the 2nd engraving, they too made the service irrevocable. My biggest worry was going from revocable to irrevocable and would medicaid accept it being made irrevocable when I was applying for dad to be on medicaid. No, they didn't care when just so long as it was irrevocable.

Of course here I'm talking about burial and not cremation, but I'm not sure prepayment works differently.

It did make the whole thing easier.
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Reply to cweissp
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I was just speaking to my daughter about this. I want a simple cremation, and my first call will be to the Neptune Society. I want to take care of arranging it in advance. My mother (87) wants a burial, formal service, the whole funeral thing. She picked out a casket and location for burial. Cost (five years ago): $25,000.00. She paid it. If left to my remaining sibling and me we would have cremated her. I just do not understand all that expense.
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Reply to Bootsiesmom
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disgustedtoo Apr 2, 2021
Just as bad as the cost of a wedding! I don't know how much mom paid as a deposit for her plans. I recall seeing a check for about $23-2400 to cover the remaining cost for dad - they set their plans up about 2 years prior to him passing, so there was that. Simple pick up, cremation, no service really, no funeral or wake, and burial in the military graveyard (he was a Marine.) Now, MANY years later, when email/talking with the FH, I was told mom was all paid up (account earns interest every year.) He did say that transport to the site would be $4-450, plus a stipend for clergy. Seriously? Driving her ashes costs that much? I asked about picking them up and taking it myself and indicated no clergy needed. She hadn't been to church in decades and being 97, she was the last on both sides of the family! We might have a few people attend the "service" the Marines provide, but certainly less than 5 people. He offered to go anyway and not charge us, and planned to say a few words himself. He's currently on medical leave, so I will have to confirm all that with the other contact. Mom passed in December, but the site is 2+ hours away and my preference would be to wait for nice weather to hold the burial (she qualifies to be interred with dad's remains.)

I realize that for many, esp the older generation, but for others as well, it is a rite of passage. Why it became such a circus affair is beyond me. If that's what she wanted and she paid for it, whoop it up.

Personally I don't want any hoopla. One thing my mother and I agreed on is if you can't be bothered to come see me while I'm alive, don't bother when I am dead!
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IN 2016 I purchased a plan through Homesteader's life insurance
800-477-3633
PO Box 1756
Des Moines IA 50306
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Reply to woptmiscws
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Pick out the funeral home that you want to take care of your body and burial. They can help you they have the urns for you to pick from . They can set you up with payments or to prepay their services. My husband knew he was dying the funeral came to us with pictures and my husband was able to pick out his coffin and we set up the she service and it made it much easier for me it had all been taken care of before his death. So there were no rushed decisions no emotional decisions and this in turn saved money.the funeral home is the place to get the help you need. Kudos to you for wanting to take care of your own funeral this saves your children or family money and stress.
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Reply to Sharon45caregiv
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There is also the option of donating one's body either for organ harvesting or for educating medical personnel. I'm planning to do this, preferably both. I've moved around enough that no place is really quite "home" and expect to move more. I'm younger than most of my cousins, and their children are scattered enough that realistically I doubt many would come to a funeral anyway.

When each of my parents died, either my sister or I cut off a small lock of hair before the funeral home was contacted or had come.
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Reply to jacobsonbob
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Mjlarkan Apr 1, 2021
Did it cost anything to donate your body?
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Please do a search or contact a local funeral home for information on a local memorial society. These are all across the country and often offer in connection with local funeral homes, low cost burial and cremation plans. It may be exactly what you are looking for. Memorial Societies have been around for decades to protect consumers.
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Reply to gdaughter
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You're smart to look at prepaying because what no one here seems to have experienced is the death of someone during a bad surge in this pandemic.

When I put my mom on hospice care in January, Southern California was having thousands of deaths daily, and I couldn't find a single mortuary in the area that would commit to take her body when she died. They could only guarantee they would take a prepaid client, and they wouldn't let me prepay at that point. I was actually told that the nursing home should have ice on hand, because no one could say when a place could be found to take her and her body may have to stay there a while. It was horrifying.

Fortunately, Mom has hung on through that time, so the backlog is gone now.

Also, if you aren't having the mortuary arrange a service, use a place that only does cremations like the Neptune Society. They'll do the cremation, give you the ashes, and you go on your way to dispose of them as you choose. I paid a mortuary $2400 for my dad's cremation (and a dozen death certificates), and he's still in my closet waiting for mom. His service was arranged through their church, and the mortuary had nothing to do with it, but their price was really high for just a cremation. When Mom goes, I'll use the Neptune Society and pay around $800. Again, the service will be at their church which doesn't allow caskets or urns. The family will then take them both to the niche at the cemetery which is where the biggest expense was -- $5500 for a 12"x12" hole in a wall! They charge $595 every time you have it opened, so that's why Dad is waiting in the closet for Mom -- we're doing a one and done.


Don't buy more than a couple of death certificates. I was talked into buying a dozen of them, and I've used exactly one. My dad had multiple investments, too, and only the folks at Charles Schwab actually kept the certificate they requested. His bank made a copy and handed it back, and no one else has even asked for one. I'll have to scan one of them to close his Gmail account if I even bother, but that'll be the same single certificate the bank copied. Now I have 11 death certificates I don't need. One will go into his folder for my genealogy research, and the rest will become something my children will uncover when I die.

Finally, know that unless you have chosen a receptacle, you'll be given a bag of cremains about the size of a shoebox. It's a LOT, and they're very heavy -- about 10 pounds. I didn't know that, but I do know my folks' niche won't hold this much. I have to figure out how to put some of Dad's ashes in a receptacle along with some of Mom's, then dispose of the rest. (I won't let them give me all of Mom's in the first place.) Also, no one told me that ashes will solidify if you don't shake the box once in a while. Dad's ashes are like a solid brick now, so that'll be another interesting thing to deal with. (Hope that isn't too morbid for you, but he'd be amused. I know these ashes aren't my dad -- he's in my heart -- so I can be a little flippant about the disposition of them.)
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Reply to MJ1929
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Mjlarkan Apr 1, 2021
I appreciate you sharing your experiences. I disagree, however, about the number of death certificates needed. The ones I first ordered were so inexpensive, but to order extras are costly. I had several banks/businesses who made me mail a certified copy. This was four years ago. I had to mail a copy last month to an insurance company.
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I wish I was in the position to regard $2500 as a minor expense.
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NeedHelpWithMom Apr 1, 2021
Some churches pick up the tab when a family member cannot afford to pay.
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I have worked with a variety of people and situations. It is good if you already have a good idea of who or how you want you to take care of arrangements for you or your loved one. Be sure you know of their financial situation. Some HUD housing and some nursing home type situations consider a funeral pre-plan as an asset. If a family member takes the account out it is not a problem.
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Reply to Peace1
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MACinCT note has an important bit of information. I completed my pre-paid in Nov 2020. As my son is a retired funeral director, he gave me good advice. Always be sure that it is transferrable should you move out of the area. I also chose to use a family run organization to do it. The big societies/corporations (such as SCI), often but not always are pushing options that you do not want or need. My son is out of the country and they will hold my body securely until he is able to arrive. My ashes are being sent to Eternal Reefs where I will be made into a reef ball and laid to rest in the ocean. As there is an empty slot at the cemetery where my folks and older brother reside, I'm having a small amount of ash interred there. The headstone will add the longitude and latitude of where in the ocean I lay!
I am on a payment plan of a very reasonable fee per month.
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Tothill Apr 1, 2021
I love the idea of including the location of your reef on the headstone at the family plot.
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I prepaid my mother’s cremation. The funeral director guided me through the whole process. I was prepaying the funeral in accordance with Medicaid laws in my state. The funeral director made me aware of several costs I would not have known about, such as pick up and storage, various certificates, container fees, obituary costs, etc. She was also familiar with the states regulations and helped me research the family burial plot out of state where she will be interred. I’m glad I went directly through my local funeral home.
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Reply to Mepowers
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Call the Neptune Society. They take care of everything .
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Reply to tivinarena
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My family uses Sound Choice Cremation & Burials here in Florida. They have various plans. My 95 year old father's plan cost less than $1000. My husband and I added a travel plan so ours is closer to 1300. This does not include any funeral arrangements, which we don't plan on using.
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Reply to SusanKZee
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Ask at a funeral home if there is a discount program. We have one in Washington State. I found with it that my total (lease expensive) cremation plan was under $700. Most of the cost is in the type of urn. If you plan to spread ashes, you don't need an urn at all. There are also options that wouldn't cost you anything, like donating the body to science or a Medical School. Just do a little googling online. Once they have used the body for study, they cremate at THEIR expense and return the ashes to you.
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Reply to LightandHarmony
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Cost vary by state, this will naturally have some effect on how much you pay. Some states require that you have a body in a coffin of some sort. Some states require that you purchase an urn, some don't. If you want bargain basement, you will need to be very empathic with the planner on what you want. They will try to sell you everything. Do some research on what the minimum your state requires. Death certificates can be scanned/copied in color and some places take PDF's, you might not need an original for somethings to prove someone died.
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Reply to Jhalldenton
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I’m ALL for prepaying no matter what. This is a beautiful gift that you can give your LO and yourself in taking care of final arrangements.

Having the details in place, surviving family/friends (if any) can spend quiet, reflective time in remembering (or not remembering) the Departed.

Finances are not the focus as much as peaceful release.
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Reply to AnnReid
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disgustedtoo Apr 2, 2021
In addition to being a "gift" to the family, it reduces the stress and potential overpayment for services not needed. Bad enough to lose a LO, but then to have to wrangle through this process? I am grateful that my parents did set up plans many years ago! It's on my to-do list, along with getting a new will, etc set up...
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It cost $2300 where I live.

I have seen nice memorials given for people without the Funeral home involved. One was done in the persons Church. The urn was placed inside a beautiful wreath of flowers.

I preplanned my Moms funeral because of Medicaid which was allowed. It was so nice to not have to deal with it later on. All I had to worry about was flowers and the luncheon. I don't remember any 60 questions.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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Geaton777 Mar 30, 2021
In my state I think Medicaid allows $1500 towards a pre-paid funeral.
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You can plan by calling funeral homes and asking about prices. Once you find a good answer, you should be able to make an appointment by setting up a prepaid plan with director. Plans are like insurance policies. It should be portable. My mom's plan is about 18 years old and it collects annual interest. She is in a new state. All the local funeral home has to do is contact the home where the policy was first written for reimbursement. Mom already has a prepurchase family plot (The real estate part). The urn that she picked out is still manufactured. The outstanding costs will be about $300 for stone engraving
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Reply to MACinCT
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I suppose that it depends on where you live. It was a little over a couple of thousand dollars when we had my brother cremated.

You have to purchase an urn. We buried him in our family plot.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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Tothill Apr 1, 2021
It is important to remember that we are all in different jurisdictions.

Here in BC, you do not have to buy an urn, the cremains can be returned in a box or plastic jar. But you do have to pay for a box to be burned with the body.

Some funeral homes will suggest that you purchase an expensive coffin, but you can request a cardboard box. In my experience you have to strongly advocate for the least expensive option.

This is an example of why planning ahead is important. It is also a good time to check if your loved one or you have any funeral benefits, some extended health plans include them as do veterans benefits.
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My parents prepaid for cremation services thru The Neptune Society & let me tell you why it's a VERY good idea: because who wants to deal with that right after a loved one dies??? When dad passed, all I did was call The Neptune Society directly and they came out to pick him up, within 90 minutes, and arranged everything from there. All I had to do was drive over to their office to pick up dad's cremains about a week later.

Having these arrangements prepaid takes a load off of the survivors mind and it's one less 'thing' for them to worry about during a stressful time of grief. Plus, the NS is reasonably priced and professional. I think dad paid around $2500 for both of them, which includes the two wooden urn boxes which are shipped to the home after the contract is signed, and a couple of frames with spots for cremains to be placed, and a few other things I can't remember off hand right now. When I went down to the NS office, I bought a gorgeous silver necklace for my mother to wear that had a vessel in it for dad's cremains as well.

My DH & I are going to arrange for our cremation services to be prepaid thru this company as well.
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Reply to lealonnie1
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SandyB66 Apr 1, 2021
I have the Neptune arrangements made for my mother and myself and I will not have anything to deal with when my mother passes and neither will my son. I am very happy with it.
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I agree with AlvaDeer, if you're planning on just a cremation for a LO, it's not that expensive, so really no need to prepay. I had my husband cremated 6 1/2 months ago, and it was $995, plus $95 for the container(I didn't get an urn, as we will be scattering his ashes soon)and then $30 for the 3 death certificates, (which I could have gotten away with just 1, as most places do take a copy of the death certificate). So the grand total was just $1126.65 with tax.
Now I guess if you're wanting some kind of a funeral service to go along with the cremation, then it might be worthwhile to prepay, as that will cost you a lot more.
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Reply to funkygrandma59
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I just prepaid for a direct cremation last month.

It was $1600. Central Florida. We used my mother’s $, as it was for her future needs.

It was explained to me that the contract is an exempt asset for Medicaid purposes, if we need to someday apply.
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Reply to cxmoody
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I am a huge advocate of planning and paying ahead of time.

I was involved in planning 2 cremations in my family.

Uncle had not planned anything and it was very traumatic for my former mil to have to go through the 60 plus questions that included “Arranging his face.” The meeting took about 90 minutes.

My step dad had preplanned and paid and it was easy to call the funeral home once he died and have them pick him up. The meeting was less than 30 minutes.

Basically you are paying up front for an insurance policy that will cover the costs of the funeral.
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Emilysjoy Mar 29, 2021
Thanx so much for your input
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