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!
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.
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.
Itemized funeral expenses that may be eligible for deduction may include but not be limited to:
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.
Cremations have overtaken traditional burials with more than 50 percent of all Americans choosing cremation and the percentage is expected to continue to increase. In addition, more and more families are choosing Direct Cremation instead of traditional funeral services. Funeral service providers across the nation reported that 70 to 80 percent of their services feature Direct Cremation.
A Direct Cremation, sometimes called a “Simple Cremation” or “Immediate Cremation” is when the cremation is performed soon after death, without a viewing, visitation or funeral service of any kind.
Oftentimes, people assume that the term “Direct Cremation” means the deceased is taken from the place of death directly to the crematory. This is not the case. Death Certificates, contracts and state required permits must all be completed before the cremation can actually take place or be scheduled, often several days later.
Many funeral service providers state that approximately 80 percent of their clients request Direct Cremations. Why are families overwhelmingly choosing Direct Cremations?
There are two main reasons behind such great popularity of direct cremation.
So, let’s have an in-depth look at how Direct Cremation changed the funeral services landscape.
Funeral expenses have grown out of reach of the average family. Most families simply cannot absorb the cost of the average funeral, which can be upwards of $6,000 and oftentimes $10,000 when additional costs such as mortuary fees are included. Keep in mind that this is for an average, run-of-the-mill funeral service. Many funeral services can cost much more.
The Simple Fact is that most families are striving to make ends meet and have not set aside funds for a funeral service for their loved ones. Unless their loved one had an estate or Pre-Paid for preplanned services, the family is put in a difficult fiscal situation.
Direct Cremation has emerged as an affordable alternative. In most cases, a Direct Cremation will cost no more than 40 percent of the cost of a basic funeral service. When arranged through a funeral home, a direct cremation package could cost up to $2,000.
With the advent of Direct Cremation providers, a Direct Cremation package can be purchased for less than half the price, from $600 to $995.
A Direct Cremation gives the family the flexibility to arrange for a memorial service – or multiple memorial services – at the date, time and locale of the family’s choosing, thereby avoiding the costs of a casket and funeral services. NOTE: If you choose to hold a service before the cremation, you would be engaging in a “traditional cremation” and not a Direct Cremation.
Direct Cremation also provides for nearly limitless ways for your loved one to present with you whether inside of an urn in your home or office or within cremation jewelry that can be shared with any number of loving family and friends.
Children are capable of wonderful questions. During a recent client meeting, a young child asked us whether his grandmother would be cremated with her clothes on. What an amazing yet simple question! We thought that this would be a good time to explain how to dress your loved one for a Direct Cremation.
For thousands of years, deceased loved ones were buried or cremated in special or ceremonial clothing and accompanied by valuable items, keepsakes or mementos. These days, there are certain types of clothing as well as certain items that cannot be included in a Cremation.
A traditional cremation arranged with a funeral home will include the loved one being dressed and clothed by a funeral home representative prior to the viewing, services and cremation. The family provides the funeral home with the clothing of their choosing. Some funeral homes also provide the family with option to actually dress their loved one at the funeral home. In certain instances, the funeral home may also have clothes that can be purchased.
By comparison, Direct Cremation services do not include viewings or dressing services. In most cases, people are cremated in either a sheet or the clothing they are wearing upon arrival to the crematory. However, most Direct Cremation providers give you and your family the option to fully dress your loved one prior to Direct Cremation.
It’s important to keep in mind that not all clothing and materials are permitted into the cremation chamber. Certain materials cannot be cremated because they are not combustible and could damage the chamber or associated equipment. We recommend that you avoid dressing your lived one in clothes that feature metallic buttons, zippers, or snaps.
Materials that CANNOT be cremated include:
It may seem like common sense but here are materials that CAN be cremated:
Please be sure to check with your Direct Cremation provider to confirm which clothing or outfit is appropriate for Cremation. There are various laws and regulations governing materials that can and cannot be cremated and they vary from state to state.
Remove the clothing your loved one was wearing when he/she passed away. Funeral home professionals prefer to cut clothing off when dressing a loved one. You should do the same as it will make the process easier.
Although it is not necessary for Direct Cremation, some families prefer to wash or clean their loved one, especially for religious reasons. Soap, water, and a washcloth are perfectly fine for this. Please be sure to dry his/her skin thoroughly after you’re done washing.
To dress your loved one in pants:
Press the pants so that the bottom cuffs are pressed against the seat of the garment. Lift the legs of your loved one and steadily slide the pants over both legs, pulling them up as high as possible -this should be above the thigh.
Then, roll your loved one over onto one side. Using the belt, pull the pants the rest of the way up to your loved one’s waist. Then repeat with the opposite side. Fasten the pants closed and you’re done.
To dress your loved one in a shirt, dress or skirt:
Slowly split the garment straight up the back with a fine pair of scissors. Then place the shirt, dress or skirt over your loved one and wrap it around him/her. For shirts or dresses, be sure to place his/her arms into the sleeves and slide up his/her arms prior to tucking the shirt or dress underneath your loved one.
Now you can add socks, shoes, scarves, kerchiefs and other accessories.
Then you carefully and gently groom your loved one by brushing or combing his/her hair, applying makeup, and any other grooming that you prefer. Please note that any prohibited materials in your loved one’s clothing or accessories will be removed by the crematory representatives prior to cremation.
Once you’re done dressing your loved one, your Direct Cremation provider will take it from there, including transportation, all documentation and certifications, verification and placement in the urn or vessel of your choosing.
Please contact us at Cremation Society of America for more information regarding our Direct Cremation services to provide you and your family with peace of mind. We can also help you pre-plan all of your Direct Cremation services to meet your needs. We look forward to being of service to you and your family.
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!
Throughout this week, family and friends will gather together on Thanksgiving to take stock of their blessings and to be thankful for so many things. We at Cremation Society of America would like to take a moment to express our thanks to YOU for the privilege to serve YOU. Without YOU, we would not be able to do what we love: provide respectful and dignified cremation services during a time of stress and sadness.
It may sound a bit cliché but we Americans are blessed by living in the greatest, most generous nation in the world. We should be thankful for all of the sacrifices of those who came before us so that we may be free. In case you were wondering how the Thanksgiving Holiday came to be, here is a brief history:
Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday in the United States, and Thanksgiving 2018 occurs on Thursday, November 22. In 1621, the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast that is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. For more than two centuries, days of thanksgiving were celebrated by individual colonies and states.
The original feast in 1621 occurred sometime between September 21 and November 11. Unlike our modern holiday, it was three days long. The event was based on English harvest festivals, which traditionally occurred around the 29th of September. After that first harvest was completed by the Plymouth colonists, Gov. William Bradford proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and prayer, shared by all the colonists and neighboring Indians. In 1623 a day of fasting and prayer during a period of drought was changed to one of thanksgiving because the rain came during the prayers. Gradually the custom prevailed in New England of annually celebrating thanksgiving after the harvest.
During the American Revolution a yearly day of national thanksgiving was suggested by the Continental Congress. In 1817 New York State adopted Thanksgiving Day as an annual custom, and by the middle of the 19th century many other states had done the same.
In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed a day of thanksgiving as the last Thursday in November, which he may have correlated it with the November 21, 1621, anchoring of the Mayflower at Cape Cod. Since then, each president has issued a Thanksgiving Day proclamation. President Franklin D. Roosevelt set the date for Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November in 1939 (approved by Congress in 1941.)
We at Cremation Society of America would like to wish you and your family a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. We hope that you cherish these moments surrounded by family and friends in the spirit of joy and Thanksgiving.
Loss of loved one can indeed be a very disappointing affair. In fact, sometimes, we just can’t get rid of such thoughts and it is burdening to move on. However, you need to accept the fact and tackle this situation in the best way.
You need to select the right kind of cremation package; this is necessary because they will carry out all the tasks in a professional manner. Your loved one deserves to receive the best treatment for sure.
Search for a very good cremation service provider as all the responsibilities will be taken care of by him. Shortlisting the best company is necessary as professionalism is displayed at each and every step.
These cremation services are highly affordable and are pretty economical; when you choose a complete package, it proves to be more affordable than the one you are going to manage. For example, you will have to take care of all the burial responsibilities. However, when a professional is hired, things are going to be easier. They will handle heavy works too & you won’t have that burden of managing everything during this grief period.
1. Finding the right cremation package is easy. Only thing is you need a very good company to do so. The Internet is your best friend while doing so. You can easily access a variety of websites. Whenever you browse, you will get professional services nearby. All you have to do is figure out which the best one is.
2. Select an affordable package. Don’t extend your budget always. Keep your budgets ready and plan accordingly. Right from the start, you need to stick to the plan. Compare the prices and book a package in line with that. Sometimes, you will get the best plan while at other times, you will have to bargain. Good discounts will be given in the final pricing, however, it’s necessary for you to know the kind of services you are looking for.
3. Not only cremation, but even other things will be taken care of. For instance, duties after cremation, duties before that and other extra elements. Rather than organizing everything on your own, it’s good to do things professionally.
4. Check what all is included in the package. Always select the package that includes everything together. This is indeed a great way to get good value. You can access things conveniently and decide on the best one. Preferably, select the one that also offers medical reports. This is indeed very vital while selecting the package.
Whenever you are out finalizing the right package, you have to take several factors into consideration. Of course, your loved one should get only good things from you after he has left the world. There should be no stone left unturned during the funeral. With the right tips and tricks, you will surely be able to find a good provider. Don’t hurry for everything. Be calm and composed and accordingly plan things. A professional will serve you in the best way.
Now that the Fall is upon us, our attention soon turns to the upcoming Holidays and planning our travel to visit family and friends.
What if a Loved One passes away while traveling to visit family? As we described in our Blog, “Direct Cremation”, sometimes called “Simple Cremation” or “Immediate Cremation” is when the 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 Thanksgiving or another holiday? 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 remains 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:
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.
So long as you use a licensed and reputable crematory or Cremation Service, you can assume that the ashes or cremains placed in your urn are indeed your loved one. However, many of us have asked ourselves the question “Is he or she REALLY in there? How would I really know? Did the crematory make a mistake?”
At Cremation Society of America, you receive our Cremation Integrity Promise that our specially-trained team strictly follows our established protocols for ensuring that your loved one is positively identified throughout the cremation process.
Our industry-leading chain-of-custody procedures include the following:
Step 1: Before your loved one is removed from the place of death, a sealed identification band is placed on your loved one’s ankle. The placement of the band is certified and witnessed. Your loved one is then transported to our location in a solemn and dignified fashion.
Step 2: Upon arrival at our location, the information on the identification band is confirmed a second time to be true and correct. A second identification band is then created with a barcode and placed on the wrist of your loved one. The barcode is then scanned and your loved one’s identification is entered into our system for validation and tracking. This ensures that we know the name of your loved one and your loved one’s precise location anywhere within our facility.
Step 3: Once the designated family members make positive identification of your loved one by viewing or providing a photo ID, your loved one is then moved to the crematory.
Step 4: Upon arriving at the crematory, identification and verification is confirmed once again and witnessed. Your loved one is then placed in the cremation chamber. An indestructible identification disk is placed in the chamber with your loved one. The disk is approximately the size of a quarter and is made of stainless steel. It will not melt despite the intense heat of the chamber. Unique identification numbers are stamped onto the disk for future verification. The disk will remain with the ashes (cremains) and we will keep a record of the unique identification numbers indefinitely. You are welcome to review the identification numbers upon request.
Step 5: Once the cremation process is complete, the cremains – including the disk – are then placed into the container or urn selected by the family. The disk remains in the run with the cremains to provide an ironclad method of ensuring that your loved one’s ashes are indeed inside the urn.
Please contact CSA for more information regarding our Direct Cremation services and our industry-leading identification protocols to provide you with peace of mind. CSA can also help you pre-plan all of your Direct Cremation services to meet your needs. We look forward to being of service to you and your family.
After a loved one has been cremated, there are many ways to treat the cremains: For example, you can place the cremains in an urn and display in your home or office. You can also choose to scatter your loved one’s ashes in the sea or in a location that was meaningful to your loved one. Another way to treat the cremains is gaining in popularity: Cremation Jewelry.
Cremation Jewelry (which is also known as Funeral Jewelry, Remembrance Jewelry or Memorial Jewelry) is simply a way for people to be close to a loved one in lieu of other cremation options. Cremation Jewelry can be created in a nearly infinite choice of designs, styles and shapes with a nearly infinite price range as well. Cremation Jewelry can be very simple and understated, ornate and extravagant and everything in between.
Most Cremation Jewelry is designed as a vessel to contain a portion of a loved one’s cremains and can appear as a locket or keepsake. For those who don’t wish to place cremains in the jewelry, they can use jewelry (pendants, etc.) as vessels to preserve memorial materials such as sand from a favorite beach, soil from a garden, a lock of hair, or even a special photograph.
Here are some examples of Cremation Jewelry:
Please contact CSA for more information regarding our selection of Cremation Jewelry. We can also refer you to craftsmen who can imbue cremains into glass pendants or even diamonds. CSA can also help you pre-plan all of your Direct Cremation services to meet your needs. We look forward to being of service to you and your family.
As with all Cremation pre-planning, the time to choose an Urn for your loved one is well in advance. With the myriad of decisions that will bombard you and your family in the days following the passing of a loved one, Pre-Planning can bring a certain bit of peace to all involved. When it comes to selecting an Urn, the choices seem to be overwhelming. Where do you even start? At Cremation Society of America, we’re here to help.
Urns come in a bewildering array of shapes, sizes, designs and materials. You can refine your search by focusing on the following questions:
Let’s take a look at each of the questions.
Do I even need an Urn?
When choosing to pre-plan for a Direct Cremation, there are many ways to honor and memorialize your loved one. Deciding how to remember your loved one will affect all other urn decisions, such as:
How much can I pay for an Urn?
Cremation Urns come in a nearly infinite price range, so the first step is to know what you’d like to spend. There are many high-quality urns in the $135 – $295 range. Competitive Internet pricing of Urns has made them very affordable without your having to sacrifice the quality or the ornate beauty of the vessel.
With a moderate budget you can select an Urn with higher production value and more expensive materials. Some marble urns, ceramic urns, glass urns, Cloisonné urns, and hand-crafted wood urns can be purchased for $250 – $500.
For high or even unlimited budgets, you can order a custom-made Urn that can be called a work of art, such as Artisan Urns that are made by hand. These Urns are literally a one-of-a-kind expression of love and honor for your loved one. Such Urns can cost from $900 to tens of thousands of dollars and are often made from glass, wood, ceramic or rare, expensive metals.
Of which material should the Urn be made?
Whether you have chosen to scatter the cremains, place the urn in a columbarium, or display in your home or office, here are some things to keep in mind:
How should the Urn be designed and decorated?
The possibilities are nearly infinite. Many families design the Urn to reflect their loved one’s personality, passions, hobbies or special interests to spark memories and stories so that the loved one lives forever. Some themes can include religious, patriotic, sports team or university, hobby motifs such as gardening, cars or music. Engraving is a preferred option for those who wish to personalize the cremation Urn to commemorate the loved one. Names, dates, or even quotes can be inscribed onto many urns.
Please contact CSA for more information regarding our selection of Urns and which Urn may best fit your Direct Cremation needs. We look forward to being of service to you and your family.