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Funeral Consumers Alliance
of Greater Kansas City

(mailing address only)
PO Box 7021
Kansas City, MO 64113
816-561-6322
email: fca.gkc@gmail.com

FAQ

Scroll down or just click the links to navigate between questions:

What are the Four Steps of Funeral Planning?
What are The Pitfalls of Prepaying for a Funeral?
What should I know about Caskets that the Funeral Director Won’t Tell Me?
What should I know about Veterans Funeral and Burial Benefits?

What are the Four Steps of Funeral Planning?

Where to Start When you Don’t Know How to Start: Funeral Shopping – The Basics

So, you’ve never planned a funeral before? You might be daunted by the choices, intimidated by the commercial funeral industry, unsure of the “right” thing to do. Like many, you might not even know where to begin, or what questions to ask. The multi-billion dollar American funeral industry has worked hard to confuse us and lay expensive obstacles in our path, but honoring our dead doesn’t have to be complicated or costly. It’s your choice whether to have a very simple disposition or a more elaborate funeral. Your taste, beliefs, and budget should dictate the type of funeral you arrange. You have no obligation to satisfy anyone else’s idea of what’s right or proper. The following steps will help you plan a funeral for yourself or for someone else. You’ll get the most from this brochure if you use it to plan in advance of death.

STEP 1: Funeral Planning Is a Family Matter

Funeral planning starts at home. Just as most families discuss weddings, home-buying, college, and other major life issues, so should they discuss funerals. Death will come to each of us, no matter how long we put off discussing it. Avoiding the topic won’t stave off death, but it will make the funeral more difficult, and likely more expensive, for survivors. Families who make funeral planning a normal part of life tell us that conversation made a painful time easier to bear. Many people say they found great meaning and peace carrying out thoughtful funeral plans that honored their family members in an appropriate and affordable way.

There are as many ways to honor the dead as there are cultures, religions and budgets. Your personal philsophy or faith should guide your choices. No religion or philosophy dictates how much money should be spent on a funeral, and no belief system encourages burdensome spending. Families can choose simple arrangements, such as a cremation with no ceremony, or more elaborate ones, such as a long wake before a funeral. They can use no coffin at all, or they can choose a handcrafted oak casket. They can keep the body at home for a very private visitation, or they can hold a public viewing at a funeral home.

Whatever you choose, be sure it’s based on what’s meaningful to you, not on what you think “the community” expects you to do. No amount of money, great or small, can express how we feel about those who have died. Taking an active role in our family’s funeral arrangements – whether that means carrying out the whole process without a funeral home, or just preparing and delivering the eulogy – is more meaningful than the money we spend.

STEP 2: What Are My Options?

Most people are confused about what they can and can’t do. While the American funeral industry usually pushes what it calls a “traditional funeral” – embalming, fancy casket, open-casket wake, funeral ceremony, procession, and graveside service – this type of funeral is a relatively recent commercial invention rarely practiced outside the U.S. and Canada. Do not be swayed by funeral home salesmanship, or exhortations to “do what’s traditional.” The typical American funeral has no roots in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or any other religion. In Israel and the Islamic Middle East, for example, burial in a shroud without a coffin is still the predominant burial method, as it has been for thousands of years. If a typical American funeral brings you comfort and you can afford it, then by all means arrange one. But every family should know it has the right to care for its dead in any way the family sees fit within the law. Here are some types of funerals families around the country have told us about:

  • One family didn’t want a public viewing of the body, but they did want a place where friends and family could gather. For them, a funeral home was the most convenient choice. They chose a closed casket visitation and welcomed family and friends to the calling hours at the funeral home. They were especially pleased to find a funeral home willing to help them have food and drinks brought in for a more comfortable gathering. Afterward, they brought the casket to church for a traditional Mass.
  • One woman in her 90s had lived in a nursing home for many years. When she died, she had few friends left to attend a conventional funeral. Her daughters decided to cremate her body and place her ashes in a cookie jar, as a tribute to her legendary baking skills. They held a memorial service at the nursing home – complete with Mom’s bake-off ribbons – where her housemates remembered her with laughter and tears.
  • Beth lost her 7-year-old daughter in a car accident. Because she had cared for Alison in every way a mother could, Beth couldn’t bear to give her daughter’s body to a funeral home. Beth dressed Alison at home, and laid her in her bed with her favorite stuffed animals. She invited Alison’s friends, siblings, and schoolmates to come to the home to say goodbye to the little girl in a very private setting. Alison’s friends spent time with her in her own bedroom, and talked with their parents about the mystery and pain of her death. As difficult as it was, Beth says Alison’s brothers and sisters came to terms with her death in a natural, family-centered way that no commercial funeral could have provided.
STEP 3: Shopping Around

A funeral can be simple or elaborate, inexpensive or costly. But unless you plan well in advance and shop around, you’re likely to pay top dollar. Consumer surveys show that most people don’t shop around for a funeral – they pick the funeral home closest to them, or the one their family has always used. Neither of these criteria tell you whether you’re getting a good value. If you’ve never checked another funeral home for its prices and services, you may have been paying the highest rate in town for three generations.

By federal regulation, funeral homes must give you price quotes over the phone. In addition, they must give you printed, itemized price lists when you show up in person to discuss funeral arrangements. That means you have the right to stop in to any funeral home and request a General Price List (GPL), no questions asked. It’s a good idea to visit several funeral homes to pick up price lists and take them home for comparison at your own kitchen table. Share them with your family. Compare the cost of the items among funeral homes. You’ll likely find a variation in price, sometimes quite substantial. See our pamphlet How to Read a General Price List to understand your rights and options.

The best place to start shopping is your local funeral consumer group. A nationwide directory of our nonprofit information organizations can be found here. These volunteer groups can often recommend reasonably priced funeral homes and crematories. Some of our groups have contracted for substantial discounts for our members, too.

When shopping on your own, the Yellow Pages is a good place to start. You can get numbers for funeral homes and crematories online, too, through Web sites such as Google.. Look for listings under “funerals” and “cremation.” Don’t forget Google to search for businesses in your area.

STEP 4: Putting It All Together

Once you’ve found a funeral home you want to use, or a list of good choices, what then? Again, bring those likely to survive you in on the conversation. Tell them what you’ve found, share your wishes with them, and show them what a funeral home price list looks like. Share this brochure with them. If your plans go awry, or your death occurs away from home, they’ll need the skills you’ve developed to negotiate the funeral for themselves.

Most importantly, put your plans in writing, in as much detail as necessary. FCA offers a funeral planning kit that comes with a 16-page fill-in-the-blanks booklet for your funeral plans, the locations of your important papers, your computer passwords, and more. The “Before I Go, You Should Know” planning kit also comes with state-specific advance medical directives. Kits are $15 each from the national FCA (www.funerals.org), and the Kansas City chapter also has them available from time to time. Whether you buy a planning kit, or draft your plans on your own stationery, the most important thing is to copy them and distribute them to those who will be handling your funeral arrangements.

What are The Pitfalls of Prepaying for a Funeral?

A typical sales pitch for a prepaid funeral might sound like this:

No one wants to leave the burden of decision-making on their children in their time of grief … prearranging your funeral brings you and your family peace of mind.

Or like this:

Protect yourself against inflation — prearranging your funeral gives you today’s prices for your service in the future.

Each technique plays on anxieties near and dear to the American heart — the effect your death will have on your family; rising prices — and each is misleading. “Preneed”* funerals may not cover every item of service you and your family expect, and there’s often no guarantee the money you pay today will keep up with inflation to pay the cost of the service you’ve picked out. Read more below the fold. . . .
*A note on terminology — the term “preneed,” as used by the industry, means a funeral purchased before death. Funeral directors often use this term interchangeably with “prearranging,” but prearrangement can be and is frequently done without prepaying.

At least one-third of the complaints we receive have to do with prepaid funerals. Some of the most common are:

— The funeral director told me the casket dad picked out was no longer available and we’d have to buy another (more expensive one)”

— I’ve had to move in with my children in another state, and the funeral home says my prepaid money can’t be transferred to another funeral home”

— My mom now wants to be cremated, but the funeral director said the plan can’t be changed”

Add to this the confusion of laws among the states governing preneed funeral contracts. Many state laws don’t offer much protection for your prepaid funeral money. Hawaii, for example, requires funeral directors to put only 70 percent of your prepaid money in trust. What happens if you change your mind, or move out of the area?

Other states, such as Florida, allow funeral directors to charge interest on installment payments toward preneed plans. Why should you pay the funeral home interest for goods and services you haven’t used yet? Florida also allows constructive delivery, a legal fiction that allows a funeral seller to consider prepaid merchandise (such as a casket) sold to you as “delivered” and not subject to refund or cancellation.

Only New York and New Jersey get close to truly consumer-friendly preneed laws. New York requires 100 percent of your money to be deposited in trust. The consumer has the right to a full refund, with interest, on a revocable plan, and irrevocable plans are transferable.

Types of prepaid funerals

There are two main types of preneed funerals: insurance-funded plans and trust-funded plans. In a trust-funded funeral, the customer pays in to the trust either in installments or in a lump-sum.

While insurance is usually portable, you may get less back than you paid in if you change your mind and cash out. Insurance plans can have all sorts of restrictions, too. Many will not pay the full benefit — or anything at all — during the first few years you pay premiums.
Trust-funded plans can be revocable or irrevocable. An irrevocable trust is one that can’t be cashed out. Medicaid allows people to set aside certain amounts of money in irrevocable trusts for funeral expenses. This way, that money won’t be taken away if you go into long-term care paid for by Medicaid. Revocable trusts, on the other hand, may be cashed out or changed at will, but are subject to seizure by Medicaid if Medicaid is paying for your care and other assets have been depleted.

If you’re concerned that you may have to go on Medicaid and you want to shelter money for your funeral, you may want to consider establishing a private irrevocable trust. While you would be unable to change or cash out the trust, you could designate a trusted family member or friend as the beneficiary, rather than giving control of your money to a funeral home. Call your Medicaid department to see if they’ll accept such a private irrevocable trust as a legitimate way to shelter funeral assets. And remember, don’t buy an irrevocable funeral plan “just in case” you should ever go on Medicaid — wait until you have to. If you never need Medicaid, you will have closed down all your options and locked your money away for no good reason.

Safer ways to plan ahead

As with any other major purchase, we advise people to shop around and discuss funeral planning thoroughly with family and friends. Making your wishes known to them — and listening to what they might need — is probably the most important task in planning your funeral arrangements.

Funeral Consumers Alliance has affiliates around the country that can provide you with price information from various funeral businesses. We also have a wealth of literature that can help you navigate the often complicated process funeral planning.

As for making sure money is available for your funeral, one of the best vehicles we know of is called a Totten Trust, or pay-on-death account. This is a trust fund you set up at a bank. You choose the beneficiary (we don’t recommend naming the funeral director) and deposit any amount of money you wish.

When you die, the money is immediately released to the beneficiary rather than being tied up in probate. Totten trusts remain in your name, they are portable, and the interest accrues in your account.

What should I know about Caskets that the Funeral Director Won’t Tell Me?

Why do Americans tend to spend so much on a casket? Well, you might want a grand display for a day or so. Some are even “more comfortable”—with an innerspring mattress and adjustable head-rest. More likely, however, low-cost caskets simply aren’t on display. As one reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times found out when the funeral shopper she accompanied asked if there wasn’t something less expensive than the $2,000+ casket on display: “They led us to a hall on the way to the boiler room.” Another woman was taken to a basement full of cobwebs. And another was subjected to the icy sneer: “Oh . . . you want the welfare casket?” Click “read more” below for a state-by-state listing of local casket and urn artisans and retail casket discount stores.

Misleading product claims can prod you to spend more, too. So-called “protective” caskets (caskets with a rubber gasket) are supposed to seal, thereby “protecting” the body from “outside elements.” This costs. The rubber gasket used to construct a “sealer” casket costs the industry $8. But that $8 gasket is likely to raise the cost of the casket by $800 or more! And what happens to a body in a “sealed” casket? Instead of the natural dehydration that occurs in most climates, anaerobic bacteria take over and the body putrifies—as any grave-digger can attest after an exhumation. (You might want to read “Bones, Bugs, & Batesville” and one woman’s fight against consumer fraud.)

Industry-friendly laws and regulations can also force consumers to shell out more than they might want to on a casket. While consumers are free to purchase a casket anywhere they like, some states are still trying to keep out competition by outlawing retail casket sales.

For many years, the industry practice was to wrap the cost of the funeral service into the sale price of caskets—with a mark-up of 300-500-700% or more. Caskets are still marked up many times the wholesale cost, but funeral services are now billed separately.

What are the alternatives to an expensive casket?

Be prepared for some resentment from the mortician at losing a big slice of the funeral profit if you obtain a casket elsewhere—your right to do so is protected by federal law. There may be snide remarks about the “poor quality” of what you’ve purchased. If the bottom doesn’t fall out, the “quality” of what you are about to bury in the ground or deliver to a crematory may be irrelevant. On the other hand, some of the hand-made or small-production caskets available may be far superior in quality to something from an automated souped-up assembly line.

Note: The funeral home may NOT add a “handling fee” if you order the casket on your own.

Funeral Consumers Alliance of Greater Kansas City recommends that you NOT prepay for a casket unless you are taking it home to store (a guest bed or coffee table perhaps?)  A number of casket stores have gone out of business. Would you be asked to pick up your casket or will you get a refund if that happens? Who knows?

We do not recommend any particular casket vendor. This listing is offered as a public service to facilitate consumer shopping. No vendor has paid to be listed.

Make your own—

  • This Web site has easy-to-follow instructions for a simple coffin.
  • There are directions in Ernest Morgan’s book “Dealing Creatively with Death,” available through our bookstore or in most libraries.
  • Rockler Woodworking and Hardware has an excellent range of casket-building resources—plans, hinges, clasps, etc. Check out their web site.
  • Kent Casket Industries ships pine caskets overnight, anywhere in the U.S. The basic model costs $420 plus $47 for ground shipping or $139 for overnight to anywhere in the US. The pine caskets have no oils or varnishes, and come with rope handles. Shipped flat, they assemble easily. Order online at kentcasket.com, or call 888-534-7239.
  • Ark Wood Caskets
    4860 Hwy 66
    Ashland, OR 97520
    888-482-7135
    Web site
    Simple, collapsible six-piece wood caskets. Ships flat. Goes together in 15 minutes. Dovetail construction; no dowels or nails. Rope handles. $599
  • Casket Kits
    George Kinakin & Associates
    Site 23 Comp. 24 RR#2
    Nelson, BC V1L 5P5
    Canada
    250-354-4106This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    Solid pine kits complete with all hardware and bedding. Assemble in less than 1 hour. $450 U.S. Ship anywhere in mainland USA, between $35-$80.

Consider a cardboard casket—

A simple cardboard casket might serve very well. (Also called a “cremation case.”)

Cremation Products Inc. (formerly Frediani Cremation)
Gilroy, CA 95020
800-837-0701
Brown cardboard cremation container, $20 (yep, and some funeral homes charge $125 for this!) plus freight, anywhere in the country.
Web site

Affordable Viewing Cremation Casket

1386 N. Winchester Blvd.
San Jose, CA 95128
408-621-8883
Corrugated fiberboard cremation casket with “wood look,” lined, for $385 shipped
Web site

Bury Me Naturally
10 Indiana Ave.
Asheville, NC 28806
www.ncnaturalburial.com
100% biodegradable and locally-made from sustainable, natural materials.
Cardboard caskets range from $115 – $150, and are $90 for bulk orders.
Wood caskets range from $850 – $950.
Artistic installations available for $400.


Buy locally from casket and urn artisans—

Steve Hansen
The Ozark Casket Co.
9405 Greenberry Dr.
Bentonville, AR 72712
501-273-2194

Custom wood caskets, pine—$650 and up
Plywood and pine kits—$300 and up Joyce and Doug Beck
Fine Woodworking
Phoenix, AZ
Website

Al Carpenter
2530 Santa Clara Ave.
Almeda, CA 9450l
5l0-865-3435
This is the same minister who sells casket plans above.

Plain Pine Boxes
Kathleen Broderson
Box 1307
Forestville, CA 95436
707-874-3993
Plain pine rectangular coffins with rope handles
$350 – $500

Concentric Rings
(artistic urns including biodegradable models)
P.O. Box 461858
Esondido, CA 92046
Website

ABC Caskets (A Better Casket) Factory
Caskets from $275 to $4,500 1705 N. Indiana St.
Los Angeles, CA 90063
323-268-1783
Website

Zwisler Bros. Handrafted Wood Products
P.O. Box 200
Bayfield, CO 81122
800-621-4992
Tomorrow’s Cradle
Oak & aspen, finished or unfinished, lined or unlined, kit or assembled—starting at $625
Website

Pine Box Handcrafted Coffins
Don Abrahamsen
2403 N. Logan Ave.
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
719-329-1139
Custom made wide-shouldered or rectangular coffins. $350

David Nighteagle
P.O. Box 1110
Mancos, CO 81328
970-533-1139 or 533-0259
Aromatic cedar ($700) and black walnut ($750) caskets. Lined, with a mattress and pillow. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Dayco
1811 W. 25th St.
Panama City, FL 32405
850-872-0928
$299 unlined. Beginning at $499 for lined wood caskets.

Morris Bridge Coffin Co.
Charles Havre
15801 Morris Bridge Rd.
Tampa, FL 33592
813-986-7574
Softwood/Hardwood, $600 and up. Artistic personalizing available.

Single-Handedly Woodworks
Mike Moore
l593 Stagecoach Rd.
Thomson, Ga. 30824
706-595-3289
All coffins made of heart pine, salvaged from antique barns, etc.
Price varies: average $2000.  Also makes pet coffins

Grabill Casket Company
12426 Page Road
888-627-72916
Amish-owned, wood coffins in various styles, $1,600 and below
Website

Abbey Caskets
St. Meinrad Archabbey
St. Meinrad, IN
800-987-7380
Monk-type caskets, poplar with muslin lining, $1,750
Website

Trappist Caskets
At New Melleray Abbey
6632 Melleray Circle
Peosta, IA 62068
888-433-6934
“The Genuine Monk-Made Casket”
Website

Grinnell Coffin Works
Byron Worley
502 4th Ave.
Grinnell, IA 50112
515-236-4662
Plywood—$150; Pine and native hardwood—$550 and up

Schieuer Woodworks
211 Main St.
Pierson, IA 51048
712-375-5316
Plain pine box—$350; others to order

M & T Enterprises
14339 Channel Rd.
Caldwell, ID 83607 208-455-6290
Handmade wood coffins starting at $300
Web site

Bannock Pride Caskets
Pocatello, ID
Marcia Racehorse-Robles  208-241-3360
David Robles  208-241-2630
Handcrafted caskets and coffins with traditional Shoshone-Bannock blankets and linings
Marcia and Dave also act as advocates for those wishing to care for their own dead
Web site

Michael Cullers
pine caskets with muslin liners, $595.00
free delivery in region
1010 Nota Dr
Bloomington IN 47401
812-339-9765

Bert & Bud’s Vintage Coffins

 

P.O. Box 995
Murray, KY 42071
502-753-9279
Also does custom-designed hand made wooden coffins,
urns and reliquaries for people and pets. Shipped nationwide.
Visit their Web site – click here.

Casket Royale of KY
408 Peace Lane
Pewee Valley, KY 40056
502-895-2313
website
Call to schedule a visit.

Stuart and Presley
Wood coffins and urns
13495 23 Mile Road
Hersey, Michigan 49639
Coffins starting at $875
Urns starting at $275
Will ship nationwide; call for estimate
web site
231-796-2015

Pine Box Caskets
Steve and Joyce Cavender
21571 Hulls Rd.
Copemish, MI 49625
231-362-2970
E-mailThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Serving northwestern lower Michigan
Handcrafted caskets and liners; caskets in stock; brochure available; $500 to start.

Joseph Byler, Jr
1298 W Kittle Rd
Mio, MI 48647
Amish coffins. No listing.

Out of the Woodworks
120 W. Broadway
Scottville, MI 49454
231-757-4186
Caskets and cremation urns, personalized in wood
Plain pine or hardwood lozenge and rectangular coffins. $700 – $1500
Cremation Urns: $100 – $150.  Handcrafted Memorials: crosses, benches, flower stands

A Simple Pine Box
49615 Leaf River Rd.
Ottertail, MN 56571
Handmade wood caskets starting at $1,200
Free delivery within 50 miles, call for shipping prices outside that area
website 218-583-2463

Rev Bob Kelly, Jr
Route #l Box 140
Pinewood, MN 56664
218-243-2814
#2 Pine Coffins
$300 – $500

No Name Lumber
391 Topping St
St. Paul, MN 55117
651-488-0474
Wood coffins from recycled lumber, simple, cheap, and green
$250 to $375 (plus freight if shipped)
web site

Bob Kelly, Sr
Rt #1 Box 182
Pinewood, MN 56664
218-243-2078
Will make a coffin for cost of materials.

Locust Grove Woodworks
Kenneth Copp
Rte. 3, Box 56C
Rich Hill, MO 64779
417-395-4141
Amish/Mennonite coffins. Will not render images, but will inscribe scripture.
$300 – $1200. Uses any native American hardwoods.

Cowboy Coffin and Pinebox Co.
Rand Herzberg
HC 49 Box 3955
Red Lodge, MT 59068
406-446-2121
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

The Old Pine Box
PO Box 1713
Edgewood, NM 87015
505-286-9410
Pine coffin kits starting at $565
Assembled coffins available too (including Orthodox), and pet coffins
Website

Spirit Vessels
P.O. Box 1683
Socorro, NM 87801
Website
email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

CoffinwrX.com
5356 Monroe St. #8
Toledo, OH 43623
419-843-7729
Website
100% Biodegradable human and pet coffins & urns
Delivery to entire continental 48 United States (shp chgs TBD)
Hours: 8am to 5pm Mon – Fri / 9am to 4pm Sat

Texas Hanadcrafted Casket and Urn Co.
Mark Brown
5401 Aurora
Austin, TX 78756
512-451-5001
Available statewide.

Western Traditions
Doug and Marylyn Keys
P.O. Box 263
Christoval, TX 76935
915-896-1083
Beginning at $595. Also “cowboy caskets” at $2,500.

White Dove Caskets
Corpus Christi, TX
361-533-6471
www.whitedovecaskets.com
Caskets ranging from $650 to under $2000.
Most delivered free of charge in or near large Texas cities.

Edwin Barness
Norse Woods
Box 62
Black Earth, WI 535l5

Once a Tree Woodcrafters
6856 W. Wolf Island Rd.
Hayward, WI 54843
715-462-9533 (home) or 462-3735 (shop)
Birch plywood—$440; can ship flat, unassembled.
Also cremation urns beginning at $45.

Tree Trunks of Northern Wisconsin
Wood coffins and urns for people and pets
Custom orders accepted; ecofriendly and biodegradable wood used

Rectangular and traditional six-sided coffins starting at $450.                                                   Will ship assembled or unassembled by US Mail, UPS, or common carrier
Estimated shipping cost $25 to $150
715-681-0038
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Buy from discount retailers—

And check out the website for the National Casket Retailers Association
Includes a list of Canadian retailers.

The Casket Emporium
1676 South Beltline Hwy.
Mobile, AL 36693
334-661-4200 or 661-4413 or 877-661-4200
Web site.

Gadberry Casket Sales
630 W. Walnut
Blytheville, AR 72315
800-992-0010 or 870-763-7511
20-gauge steel: $610

Caring Caskets
Plaza Wholesale
28 S. College, Suite 17
Fayetteville, AR 72701
501-443-6414

Casket Connection
Jonesboro, AR
870-933-9500

Casket Outlet
Denver, CO
303-657-9903

Affordable Casket Co.
4815 University Ave.
Des Moines, IA 50311
888-327-1691
20-gauge nonsealer—$545
Will ship anywhere in Iowa.

Direct Casket Sales
8187 Mall Rd.
Florence, KY 41042
Toll free 877-245-5856
Cloth covered—$400; 20-gauge nonsealing steel: $795

Casket Royale of Kentucky
4008 Dutchmans Lane
Louisville, KY 40207
888-895-2313 or 502-895-2313
20-gauge nonsealer—$500, also plain pine boxes
Web site

Consumer Casket USA
3089 Breckenridge Lane
Louisville, KY 40220
888-544-5385
20-gauge nonsealing steel—$495

Family Casket Store
5418 S. Highway 27
Somerset, KY 42501
800-543-1895
20-gauge nonsealing steel—$295

Mill Creek Caskets
Columbia, MO
573-474-0876 or 877-429-1177
Cremation caskets starting at $325; Steel starting at $795
Web site

Direct Casket Oulet
210 W. Maple
Independence, MO
816-252-0979
Metal caskets starting at $699

W. J. Trump Memorials
2128 -O- St.
Lincoln, NE 68510
402-476-1501
Urns, caskets, vaults, monuments
20-gauge non-sealer—$695

Stone Casket Co.
1300 NE 4th St. #4
Oklahoma City, OK 73117
405-232-4344
405-620-8486 (pager)
This company had won a court judgment that declared that restrictive state statutes were unconstitutional. The state Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors appealed, and new judges slapped an injunction on the company. The rationale? That caskets protect the environment! Read all about it.

Funeral Directions
5204 Kingston Pike
Knoxville, TN 37919
423-583-0305
Clothcovered casket—$368; major-brand 20-gauge nonsealer—$600

Collier Casket Co.
3709 North IH35
Austin, TX 78722
Day: 512-478-3755
Nights: 512-589-9727
Mobile: 512-635-0056
Metal caskets starting at $395
Web site

Budget Casket Superstore
3508 Harwood #308
Bedford, TX
817-267-5590

Everlife Memorials
Urns, Monuments and more, shipped to the lower 48 states
301 Texan Trail, Suite 1
Corpus Christi, TX 78411
800-293-3778
Web site

BestPriceCaskets.com
Dallas, TX
1-866-474-5061
website

Trail’s End Casket & Monument
P.O. Box 71
Mountain, WI 54149
715-276-9081

Caskets Direct
West Bend, WI
414-334-1001

Impressive Casket
6762 W. Beloit Rd.
West Allis, WI
414-329-8250


Pet Caskets and Urns —

The same warning above about sealer caskets applies to sealer pet caskets, too.

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What should I know about Veterans Funeral and Burial Benefits?

Including Spouses and Dependents

What You Get and What You Don’t

Veterans

All veterans are entitled to burial in a national cemetery, a grave marker (regardless of the cemetery), and a flag. Spouses and dependent children are also entitled to a lot and marker but only in a national cemetery. There will be no charges for opening or closing the grave, a vault or liner, or setting the marker in a national cemetery. Depending on the circumstances, a family will be responsible for all other expenses including transportation to the cemetery.

  • Death during active duty. All funeral expenses will be paid by the military—body preparation, casket, transportation to the place of disposition, interment (if in a national cemetery), and marker. In addition, as of July, 2005, next-of-kin are entitled to a “death gratuity” of $100,000, retroactive to October 7, 2001.
  • Death due to a service related injury. There is a $2,000 “burial allowance” for these veterans which may be used to cover some of the funeral director’s expenses, the casket, and transportation to the cemetery. IF death occurred in a VA facility, transport of the body to the cemetery will be paid, provided it is no farther than the last place of residence. If burial is not in a national cemetery, there is a $300 “interment allowance,” but it is unlikely that will cover opening and closing or vault charges, let alone the cost of the lot. Although a marker is available at no charge, the private cemetery will probably have a setting fee.
  • Nonservice-related death in a VA facility OR while collecting a VA pension or disability compensation. There is a $300 “burial allowance” which may be used to defray some of the usual funeral expenses. Although burial in a national cemetery is free to these veterans, all other mortuary expenses are the responsibility of the family. Transportation to a national cemetery (not farther than the residence of the deceased) will be provided only if the death occurs in a VA facility. The $300 interment allowance applies when burial is in other than a national cemetery.
  • Death of a veteran outside a VA facility, not receiving military pension or compensation. The $2,000 and $300 benefits do not apply, nor is there reimbursement for transportation to the cemetery. The lot in a national cemetery, any required vault, interment, a marker, and flag are the only burial benefits. If interment is in other than a national cemetery, the family is responsible for the cost of the lot, opening and closing charges, the vault, and any fee charged for setting the government marker if that is selected. The family must also bear all other funeral costs.
Spouse and Dependents
  • A spouse and dependents of an eligible veteran are entitled to burial in a national cemetery even if the veteran is not buried there.

A spouse who remarries a nonveteran may claim burial rights from the prior marriage.

Spouses receiving military pay and who die in a military medical facility are eligible for military transport to the nearest national cemetery or no farther than the last permanent residence.

Adult children of veterans are entitled to burial benefits only if disabled and dependent.

Others Who May be Eligible
  • There are a number of others eligible for veterans’ burial benefits if the person has provided military-related service. The list is quite long and includes civilians who were involved with military efforts during war-time. Members of the National Guard and Reserves with 20 years of service are eligible. Some Public Health Service personnel are also eligible. You should inquire if you believe you might be entitled to such benefits.
Persons Not Eligible
  • Divorced spouses
  • Adult children
  • Parents, siblings and others—even if they are dependents
  • Those with a dishonorable discharge
  • Those convicted of subversive activities and capital crimes

Markers

  • Memorials are available to all veterans, spouses, and dependent children buried in a national cemetery and will be set without charge. For veterans who died before Sept. 11, 2001, markers are available to them —not to the spouse or dependents—for use in other cemeteries unless the grave has already been marked by a private memorial. For veterans who died on or after Sept. 11, 2001, the government will provide a headstone even if the grave already has a private marker. The installation cost must be borne by the family when in a non-government cemetery. Several styles of markers are available and must be consistent with existing monuments. Niche markers for cremains are also available.

Inscription must include name, branch of service, year of birth, year of death—in this order—and may include emblem of belief, rank, and decorations earned. At private expense, additional items—such as nick-names and terms of endearment—may be added but must be approved by the VA.

Miscellaneous Benefits & Other Information

  • You may not reserve space in a national cemetery ahead of time; arrangements are made only at the time of death. Therefore, there is no guarantee that spouses will be interred side-by- side.
  • Burials in a national cemetery are not usually conducted on weekends.
  • National cemeteries provide space for both body burial and cremated remains.
  • Check with the cemetery regarding gravesite adornments other than natural cut flowers.
  • Military honors or a funeral honor guard may be available from nearby military installations or veterans groups. Fly-overs are reserved for those on active duty at the time of death.
  • A flag is provided on request for the burial of any veteran. Apply through the VA and pick up at a U.S. Post Office. Family members may wish to purchase a flag case for later display, available through private sources.
  • Next-of-kin, other relatives or friends may request a “Presidential Memorial Certificate.” More than one may be requested.
  • A family may apply directly to the VA for all benefits. Although it may be convenient to let the undertaker do so, you may wish to ask if the mortician charges for submitting claims.
  • When the body of a veteran without next-of-kin is unclaimed from a VA facility and the estate is without sufficient assets, the VA will assume responsibility for burial.
  • Other than for sea burial, there are NO casket requirements for routine body burial. An undertaker handling the unclaimed body of a vet must supply something more durable than cardboard, unless the body is to be cremated.
  • “No-fee” passports are available for family visiting overseas grave-sites or memorials.
  • The National Cemetery System may be asked to do a search to locate anyone interred in a national cemetery. In addition to general vital statistics, you will need to know the state from which the veteran entered military service.
  • There are STATE-run veterans cemeteries that may offer the same or similar benefits, with some restrictions. For a listing of VA cemeteries, check http://cem.va.gov

Caution!

The VA has gotten complaints from vets who were approached by commercial funeral outfits offering free cemetery lots or other so-called veterans benefits. They DO NOT represent the U.S. government! Be sure to ask:

  • Must you also purchase another lot?
  • Where is it located? How much will it cost?
  • Is “perpetual care” additional?
  • What are the costs for opening and closing each grave?
  • Must certain memorials be purchased through the cemetery?
  • What are the costs for setting memorials?
  • Is a vault required? Even for cremated remains? May it be purchased elsewhere?
  • Are there marker or planting restrictions?
  • What are the “administrative” charges?
  • Who owns the cemetery? Are there nearby municipal or religious cemeteries which charge less for the same services?

Burial At Sea

Burial At Sea Burial (or the scattering of cremains) at sea is available to all veterans and dependents, and is provided by the Navy or US Coast Guard. A flag is required, and—if supplied by the family—can be returned. If supplied by the Navy, it will not be.

Because sea burials are done at the convenience of the military, the family may not witness sea burial.

Bodies waiting for sea burial must be embalmed to a state of preservation that will last for at least 60 days. (This is accomplished with undiluted embalming fluid; “stiff.”)

A non-sealing metal casket must be used, bound with six bands of nylon. The casket must carry 150 lbs. of extra weight.

Two-inch holes (20 total) must be drilled in the top, bottom, and at each end.

To reach the regional Veterans office in your area, call 800-827-1000.

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