1What are my rights as a consumer?
The Funeral Rule, enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, makes it easier for you to choose only those goods and services you want or need and to pay for only those you select. According to the Funeral Rule, you can find out the cost of individual items whether you shop by telephone or in person. If you inquire about funeral arrangements in person, the funeral home must give you a written price list of available goods and services (GPL or General Price List). Keep in mind that when you arrange for a funeral, you can buy a package of goods and services or individual items. If you want to buy a casket for example, the funeral provider must supply a list that describes the available selections and their prices. Remember, the funeral provider may not refuse or charge a fee, to handle a casket you bought elsewhere. Be wary of funeral homes that do not have any caskets priced below $800.00. This is a sure sign you are paying far too much. For more information on this rule, click on the FTC (Federal Trade Commission): http://www.ftc.gov
2What are my choices as a consumer?
No matter what your final wishes, you are entitled to a choice. There is no such thing as a "Traditional" funeral. Your thoughts and wishes are what are important. Rather than spending unnecessary funds on what may be considered the "normal" way to do things as suggested by the funeral director, simply take charge of your arrangements and complete them the way YOU want them performed.
3Why should I buy a casket or other funeral related products from Central Florida Casket Store?
There are two good reasons. One - you can shop from the comfort of your home at your convenience from your computer. There is nobody looking over your shoulder to pressure you into making a purchase you neither want nor need. Two - competitive pricing. You can rest assured that Central Florida Casket Store will offer you the best pricing on your casket, urn or monument purchase. We do this without shifting hidden costs to other services as many funeral homes do in order to match the lower prices of a retail casket store. Far too often high mark-ups are passed on to unwitting consumers by funeral homes. Caskets are often marked up 4 to 6 times the actual cost to the funeral home. And with 3 large conglomerates now controlling more and more of the funeral business in the United States, the industry lacks healthy price competition. It's a situation that invites pricing abuses. This is why the FTC passed the Funeral Law in 1984. Jules Polonetsky (NYC Consumer Affairs Commissioner) says "the cost of burying a loved one is becoming unreasonable as a result of deceptive trade practices and consolidation in the funeral home industry. An investigation by his office found grieving consumers were misled or tricked by funeral directors into buying services or items they didn't want or need."
4Will my funeral home accept a casket I purchase from Central Florida Casket Store?
Yes. It is against Federal Law for a funeral home to refuse a casket purchased elsewhere. Refusal to do so results in a $10,000 fine per incident to the funeral establishment and may possibly lead to the suspension of their license to operate a funeral business.
5Will my funeral home charge me a special handling fee?
No. It is illegal for a funeral establishment to charge a handling fee if you wish to use a family-built casket or purchase one from someplace other than the funeral home. It is also illegal for funeral establishment staff to make false claims about the preservative qualities of a casket or to charge contagious disease fees or fees for protective clothing for staff..
6Will my cemetery accept a grave site marker I purchase from Central Florida Casket Store or charge me a special handling fee?
You may purchase a marker or monument from a source other than the funeral home, cemetery or mortuary, but it also must meet cemetery standards, and the cemetery may not charge a setting fee if the monument company sets it for you. Be sure to review the rules and policies of the cemetery before you purchase. This can help avoid misunderstandings and can assist you in making your decisions. In addition to the price of the Marker or Monument, there is an installation fee with every order.
7Why should I pre-plan my services?
Pre-planning ensures that your wishes are carried out at the time of death. It relieves your loved ones from guessing as to what you would want, and it makes a difficult time just a little easier for them.
8What should be included in my pre-planned arrangements?
You should have instructions as to where important papers are kept, such as in a bank safety deposit box. Important papers would include any stocks owned, real estate owned, and other personal assets owned. Also, any military discharge papers should be readily available with the highest rank held, service number, veteran claim number, and any medals earned while in military service. As for the statistical information needed, that will be obtained at the arrangement conference or over the phone.
9How many Death Certificates will my family need?
A properly completed Certificate of Death, signed by the attending physician or medical examiner will have been prepared and filed with the local health department, or the appropriate government agencies. Many times, a copy of the original will suffice to prove a death has occurred. You may need additional copies to include with your insurance or tax records. Life insurance and any instance of a monetary benefit will require a Death Certificate with the cause of death included. Everything else will require a Death Certificate without the cause of death. Since this document is a public document, additional certified copies can always be obtained at a later time if required.
10What if the funeral home we use offers to match your price on the casket and/or vault?
You should ask them why they didn't give you their best price up front. If they are able to match our price, and presumably still make a profit, that suggests that they were either exploiting their customers before with their high prices, or are possibly guilty of predatory pricing when they suddenly lower their prices to match ours. Keep in mind that they will only lower their prices when they are forced to, as long as a lower-cost provider is in the marketplace. If they do offer to drop their price by 50% on their casket, you should demand a corresponding 50% discount on their total funeral service prices. It goes without saying, if their casket prices are unrealistically priced, their services prices are probably unrealistically priced also.
11Is Central Florida Casket Store required to follow the same rules and regulations as licensed funeral homes?
Although the Funeral Law, which was enacted by the Federal Trade Commission, does not apply to retail casket sellers, Central Florida Casket Store voluntarily complies with this law by providing a complete (GPL/General Price List) at our Location at 2090 East Edgewood Drive, Lakeland, Florida 33803. Some states (Not Florida) require retail casket stores, upon beginning any discussion of prices, to give customers a written price list of all caskets, alternative containers, and outer burial containers normally offered for sale. In addition, if customers ask for it in person the outlet should give them a written statement identifying caskets or containers by price, thickness of metal, type of wood, or other construction, and by interior and color. This information should also be included on a tag conspicuously attached to or in each casket. Prior to a sale, the seller should provide the buyer an itemized statement of all costs involved. Central Florida Casket Store gives this list voluntarily. (All Funeral Homes are required by Federal Law to provide these lists.) It is important to remember that prior to 1984, retail casket stores did not exist and licensed funeral directors held a monopoly on locations and pricing regarding where you could buy funeral products and how much you had to pay. The reason the Federal Law was changed was due to rampant abuse, exorbitant price gouging and unfair trade practices that were not uncommon in the Funeral Care Industry by licensed and regulated funeral homes and directors. If you inquire of friends or relatives who have had to make funeral arrangements, it is likely you will hear about some negative experiences that they encountered with the funeral home they used. Retail casket stores came into existence after the Federal Government changed the laws to allow for greater competition and to give consumers more choices in buying funeral products. The law change was good for consumers but bad for a very protective, profitable and private funeral industry.
12If I choose to have my remains cremated, do I have to buy a casket?
A casket is not required for cremation by law in most states, but a combustible cremation container is. The container must be one that can be closed and is leak-resistant. A cardboard box constructed for this purpose is acceptable. You do not have to buy the container from the funeral establishment or crematory, but it does have to meet the standards set by the crematory. Central Florida Casket Store has a variety of cremation caskets and containers that are approved for use as cremation containers as well as a large selection of Urns and related products with which to honor loved ones remains.
13How do I store cremated remains?
In most states, you may choose any of the following methods of disposition of cremated remains:
- Placement of the urn in a niche columbarium or mausoleum - there may be additional charges for endowment care, opening or closing, recording, flower vase, nameplate, and urn.
- Burial of the urn in a plot in a cemetery - there may be additional charges for endowment care, opening or closing, recording, urn, outer burial container, flower vase, and marker.
- Retention of the urn at your residence - the funeral establishment or crematory may have you sign indicating that the remains were released to you.
- Storing of the urn in a house of worship or religious shrine if local zoning laws allow.
- Scattering in areas of the state where no local prohibition exists and with permission of the property owner or governing agency. The cremated remains must be removed from the container and dispersed into the soil, or buried, so they are not distinguishable to the public.
- Scattering of the remains in a cemetery scattering garden.
- Scattering at sea, at least three miles from shore (this also includes inland navigable waters, except for lakes.(The U.S. Coast Guard will do this for you at no charge).
14What is cremation?
Cremation is the second most common form of final disposition in North America. During the process, intense heat is used to reduce human remains into small bone fragments. This takes place in a chamber known as a cremation retort. After cremation, these bone fragments are further reduced to a fine powdery form. These are referred to as the cremated remains, the cremated body, ashes, or simply cremains.
15Is cremation now common in the U.S.?
The percentage of deaths in the United States that result in cremation has increased steadily since the 1960's. The cremation rate in 2000 was 26%. It is projected to increase to 38% by 2010.
16Why do people select cremation?
Each person who selects cremation or any other form of disposition does so for individual reasons. These may be based on family traditions, religious obligations, personal beliefs, convenience, or cost.
17What must be done with cremated remains?
The next of kin has legal authority to decide what to do with the cremains.
18If I choose cremation, can I also have a funeral service?
Many choices of services are available that include cremation.
- A traditional funeral: this service includes a public viewing of the loved one in a casket. A religious or secular service is conducted at a church or the funeral home and the loved one is taken to the crematory after the service. A form of committal service can be conducted at the crematory if desired.
- A private funeral service: This service can be the same as the traditional service described above with the exception that the general public is not invited. Only those people the family invites attend.
- A modified service: This involves using some of the aspects of a full service. Such an option may only include a service at the funeral home or church and not the crematory. A service may be held only at the crematory instead. This type of service can also be public or private.
- A memorial service: This is usually held days or weeks after the loved one is cremated. It can be a religious or secular service. The ashes may or may not be present depending on the family's wishes.
- A direct disposition with no services: With this option, a family chooses to have the loved one transferred from the place of death directly to the crematory, no funeral or memorial service is conducted.
19Must I purchase a casket?
Purchasing a casket is optional. It will be necessary, however, to purchase some type of rigid container for the loved one to be placed in. For sanitary and operational reasons, most crematories will not place an unencased body in the cremation retort. A traditional wood casket: Some people choose a casket for cremation for the same reasons they would chosen it for burial. A cremation casket: These caskets are made of wood or wood by-products and resemble a traditional casket but do not contain any metal parts. An alternative container: These encasements are rectangular boxes made of corrugated cardboard and are the least expensive type of container.
20Is embalming required?
Embalming is performed to disinfect the body and temporarily preserve it for the duration of the funeral. If there is to be a viewing with a service, embalming will be necessary. If there is to be a direct disposition or a service with a closed casket, then embalming would not be necessary. In some instances embalming may be required by law if there is a public health risk, or if the loved one is to be transported out of state.
21Is an urn necessary?
As mentioned earlier, the cremated remains are returned to the family in a plain plastic or cardboard container. Urns are available to people who desire a more attractive and permanent enclosure for the cremains. Often a family will select an urn whose design would have special meaning to their loved one.
22Do I need a funeral director?
In most states a funeral director is required by law to handle all matters pertaining to the final care of a loved one. There are states that allow non-funeral directors to remove a body from the place of death and then perform an immediate disposition. Most funeral directors will be happy to discuss any questions you may have regarding options, cost, or legal requirements.
23Is there a waiting period before a body can be cremated?
In some states there are laws regarding how soon after death a cremation can be performed. In these states there is a 24 or 48 hour waiting period between the time of death and cremation. The reason for this delay is that once the cremation is complete, the body is no longer available for legal investigation. Your funeral director can explain your state's requirements to you.
24Can cremation arrangements be made in advance?
Most funeral homes provide pre-arranging of any type of funeral service whether it is a cremation, burial, entombment, or body donation. It is also possible to pay for the services and merchandise selected ahead of time. This is known as pre-funding and can defray cost increases in the future.
25Should I discuss my wishes with my family?
Before finalizing any decision on what to do after death, your immediate family should be consulted. This is especially recommended when the final disposition is to be cremation or body donation. At this point in time, not everyone is knowledgeable or comfortable with these choices.
26Does cremation effect the grieving process?
Coping with grief is never easy for loved ones. Careful consideration should be given to the personal wishes and cultural concerns of all surviving family members. Family consensus on these matters will help prevent misunderstandings which may prolong the family's grieving process.