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  • Now that the Summer is just around the corner, many families focus their attention on the end of the school year and the inevitable summer travel plans. We at Cremation Society of America believe that your travel plans should include Travel Protection.

    What if a Loved One passes away while traveling to visit family or to tour cities overseas? Direct Cremation”, sometimes called “Simple Cremation,” is a process whereby cremation is performed soon after death, without a viewing, visitation or funeral service of any kind.

    What if you’ve arranged for your Direct Cremation and you’re planning a trip across the United States to visit family for several weeks? What happens if you or a loved one passes away unexpectedly in another state that is thousands of miles away from home? How do you ensure that your loved one is returned home in a dignified manner? How much will such arrangements cost?

    You’ll have to deal with the rules and regulations of the airlines when it comes to the transportation of your loved one’s remains – and the cost as well. You’ll also have to arrange for the cremains to be transported to your pre-planned facility for cremation. And you’ll need to manage these issues during a time of sudden and likely overwhelming grief.

    A Travel Protection Plan can save time, stress, and cost for you or your next-of-kin should your death occur while traveling away from your legal residence. Most Travel Protection Plans will include many of the following services:

    • Prepare remains for transport, regardless of where the remains are located worldwide
    • Arrange for transportation of remains from place of death to funeral home or direct disposition (cremation) facility
    • Purchase casket/air tray to meet transportation requirements, including international transportation
    • Arrange and pay for transport to city of legal residence
    • Secure and process all documentation required for remains transportation, including death certificate

    Most Travel Protection Plans are triggered when the death occurs a certain number of miles away from the person’s legal residence. Be sure to review your Travel Protection Plan carefully for specific terms and conditions.

    At a time of shock and grief, you or your loved ones would make just one phone call to activate the Plan. Once activated, the Plan agents immediately commence arrangements to provide you and your loved ones with peace of mind amidst the chaos of returning home from your journey.

    Please contact us for more information regarding Travel Protection Plans and how such a plan can factor into your Pre-Panning strategy. We look forward to being of service to you and your family.

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  • What is a Death Certificate?

    Here at Cremation Society of America, one of the questions most often asked of us is how to order a Death Certificate and why is it required for Direct Cremation.

    A Death Certificate is an official document that serves as certified proof that someone has passed away. This document will be necessary for families or loved ones to close accounts, access insurance benefits and take similar legal steps. Death Certificates are also used by governmental agencies to track demographic trends locally and nationwide.

    How many Death Certificates do I need?

    A family or loved one will need a certified copy of a Death Certificate to close any financial services account or claim any benefit such as insurance proceeds after a loved one passes away. Some companies will require an original to access benefits such as pensions, insurance proceeds or property transfer. Other companies or entities may only require a photocopy/image of the Death Certificate to serve as proof. A good rule of thumb is to expect an original Death Certificate will be require to settle legal issues and a copy may be sufficient to resolve other matters.

    The number of death certificates a family needs will depend on the number of assets, benefits and accounts that have been left to them. We recommend that you contact each of the companies/entities involved to confirm whether the company/entity will accept only an original death certificate or a copy of the death certificate.

    Death Certificate

    How do I order a Death Certificate?

    Once the death has been registered, Death Certificates can be ordered from several entities, including:

    • The funeral home or Cremation provider that you choose
    • The state or county in which the person passed away
    • An online service such as VitalChek, a Lexis Nexis Company

    There are two types of Death Certificates: Informational or Certified:

    • Informational copies can be ordered by anyone
    • To get a Certified copy, you must be closely related to the deceased

    How long can I expect to wait to receive a Death Certificate?

    There can be as many as four parties/entities/agencies involved in processing the first Death Certificate, which means that the time it takes to receive the Certificate may vary. You can expect a state agency to take 3 -6 weeks while a county agency may only take 2-4 weeks.

    The following steps are typically required in order to produce a Death Certificate:

    • The family or Next of Kin provides certain information about the deceased to confirm identity
    • The primary care physician or attending physician confirms the cause of death to the funeral home or Cremation provider
    • The funeral home/Cremation provider registers the death in the applicable county or jurisdiction
    • The Death Certificates are printed and sent by the county or jurisdiction

    The family and funeral home/Cremation provider typically provide their respective information within a day and don’t delay the process. If any delays are encountered, it’s usually with the physicians or the applicable county/jurisdiction.

    We at Cremation Society of America do everything in our power to make the Death Certificate process as efficient as possible so that you and your family can address the matters at hand.

    Call us today to request more information about our Direct Cremations or click here to order your Direct Cremation now using our industry-leading online ordering process.

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  • Direct Cremation continues to be the preferred choice of families in the United States in lieu of more traditional funeral services. Direct Cremation is far more affordable and offers families the flexibility to arrange for services at time and place more convenient for the family. One example of such flexibility is the Scattering of Ashes at Sea.

    Scattering Ashes at Sea has become more and more popular among families of the deceased.  This type of ceremony is considered by many to be much more natural and soothing for your loved ones versus traditional, terrestrial burials.

    Shortly following the cremation and receipt of the ashes, you are ready to provide your loved one with the ceremony and serenity that he or she deserves – and most likely requested with his or her final wishes.

    U.S. federal law allows for the scattering of ashes at sea but certain conditions must be met, including: the use of decomposable flowers and wreaths; certain notification requirements; ensuring that ashes are scattered at least three (3) nautical miles from shore; and others.

    To scatter your loved one’s cremated remains (“cremains”) by boat, family and friends board the vessel and travel to the desired location on the ocean. This typically involves chartering a boat with a licensed captain and the trip may last for several hours.

    Upon arrival at the desired location, the captain will position the vessel boat into the wind and with enough forward speed to prevent the cremains from being blown back into the vessel. The ceremony and tribute can begin. The ceremony can range from clergy reciting prayers to Family members reciting poetry to a few poignant comments and everything in between.

    Family members have the option to scatter the cremains if they so choose. The cremains are placed in the water and allowed to descend into the ocean. Cremation Society of America can help you to choose a reputable charter service to ensure that the cremains make it into the ocean properly.

    Shortly thereafter, the Family and friends are usually handed flowers or even a bouquet that they can toss in along with the cremains to create an area of the ceremony on the water. The captain can then circle the area while the Family and friends take photos and say their final goodbyes.

    With the Cremation Society of America Package One, our advisors can help you arrange to scatter your loved one’s ashes at sea. CSA has relationships with reputable charter services that have vast experience to provide a dignified and touching at-sea tribute to your loved one. Contact us NOW to order a Direct Cremation and to explore our Scattering of Ashes at Sea services.

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  • We at Cremation Society of America are often asked by our clients whether Direct Cremations are tax deductible. The short answer for Individual Taxpayers is No. But this merits further explanation. We also strongly recommend that you consult with your tax specialist.

    These days, the median cost of a funeral can be $8,000 with many exceeding $10,000. Of course, a Direct Cremation is far more affordable option for a loved one. Even so, some families, upon advice from a trusted resource or due to reading an article, etc. are tempted to deduct funeral expenses on their personal income tax return. We suggest that you resist this temptation as you run the risk of an IRS audit and the heavy fines and penalties that come with it. The last thing you need after the loss of a loved one is to endure an IRS audit!

    Estates: Claiming a Deduction

    Funeral expenses are only deductible if they paid by a previously-established Estate. An Estate can be defined as everything comprising the net worth of an individual, including all land, possessions and other assets r that the individual owns or has a controlling interest in. As such, individuals cannot claim funeral expenses on their income tax returns (IRS Form 1040) and funeral expenses cannot be itemized or deducted on the decedent’s final tax return.

    Per the IRS ‘Miscellaneous Deductions” guide (Publication 529), “Burial or funeral expenses, including the cost of a cemetery lot” are nondeductible. Please also keep in mind that if you pay funeral expenses for a loved one or other individual, you cannot treat those expenses as a medical deduction on your tax return.

    Estate: Claiming a Deduction

    The appropriate way to deduct funeral expenses is for the Estate to pay the burial costs and then claim the deduction for estate tax purposes on IRS Form 706 (United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return). The funeral expense deduction is one of several deductions that are used to determine the taxable estate, resulting in the taxable amount of the Estate. The executor or administrator of the estate is responsible for filing IRS Form 706, and such executor/administrator must attach a death certificate per the Form 706. The executor/administrator should notify the family involved in the Estate as well as those making funeral arrangements that reimbursement for funeral expenses may be affected by IRS regulation and other laws. Again, we cannot stress enough that you consult with your Tax Specialist and possibly an Estate Attorney for guidance and advice.

    Can any costs be Deducted?

    Itemized funeral expenses that may be eligible for deduction may include but not be limited to:

    • Cost to purchase a burial plot or mausoleum space and any reservations
    • Headstone or grave marker and related expenses
    • Funeral director fees, embalming and body preparation charges
    • Ceremony or viewing/visitation expenses, including – flower arrangements, food, audio visual presentations, clergy honorarium
    • Casket costs and interment fees
    • Transportation expenses such as transporting your loved one to and from the funeral home, hearse/limousine and driver costs

    If the decedent’s Estate is reimbursed for any funeral costs, the reimbursement must be deducted from total expenses before claiming the deduction on Form 706 – this includes any federal payments such as Social Security or Veterans death benefits.

    The person or family representative responsible for making the funeral arrangements and paying the resulting expenses should retain and preserve all invoices, receipts, contracts, agreements, etc. Note that the Estate may not receive full reimbursement if the funeral costs are deemed unreasonable, or the Estate becomes insolvent. This is why Pre-Planning for funeral or Cremation services can be so very helpful to your family during such a challenging time.

    Do you have questions about arranging a Direct Cremation and whether any aspect can be tax deductible? Please feel free to give us a call. One of our Direct Cremation Specialists is here for you.

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  • During the next several weeks, family and friends will gather together on Christmas and New Years to celebrate the joy and blessings of the past year as well as the hope and promise of 2019.

    The entire Cremation Society of America Family would like to take this moment to wish you and your family a most Blessed and Merry Christmas as well as Health and Happiness in 2019! We thank YOU and all of our clients for the privilege to serve YOU throughout 2018. Without YOU, we would not be able to do what we love: Providing dignified services to your family at a time of stress and concern. Remember this as we enter 2019: When you need us, we’ll be there for YOU.

    As everyone around you makes their New Years’ resolutions, we at Cremation Society of America resolve to continue to provide you with the BEST cremation-related services delivered by the BEST people at the BEST possible price with dignity and respect.

    Keep in mind that as you look for meaningful and practical gifts for those around you, especially family, the gift of a Pre-Planned Direct Cremation is a deeply heart-felt gesture to ease the unforeseen burden for a loved one. A custom urn may also be a welcome gift.

    You have our promise to continue in 2019 our mission to lift the cloud of confusion that often surrounds cremation services and to be ready to assist you and your loved ones through this process with a gentle, guiding presence.

    From our Cremation Society of America Family to yours, please enjoy a merry, safe and blessed Christmas! And may your New Year be filled with health, happiness and joy!

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