Tag Archives: funeral company

Death Certificates Explained

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.

Scatter Your Loved One’s Ashes at Sea

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.

Don’t Fall Victim to Cremation Scams

As an increasing number of Americans choose Cremation over traditional burials, Cremation Scams and Fraudulent Practices are also on the rise. As with IRS scams and Banking scams, Cremation Scams are aimed at people 65 and older.  Fraudsters and scammers attempt to take advantage of the sadness, grief and confusion many feel in the aftermath of the loss of a loved one. This is a time of great vulnerability for families, especially those who did not take advantage of Pre-Planning Services.

The best way to combat Cremation Scams and Fraud is education. Here are some examples of Cremation Scams:

  • Concealing or misrepresenting prices. Dishonest providers may deliberately avoid providing prices to you in writing or they even increase prices/fees once the cremains are delivered.
  • Selling extra or unnecessary services or items. Service providers may try to sell unnecessary additional services, such as embalming or a burial casket, as part of a cremation package. These items can be quite expensive and are considered “pure profit” by unscrupulous funeral providers. Oftentimes, providers will use “high-pressure” sales tactics to coerce elderly customers into buying unnecessary products and services.
  • Forcing consumers to buy proprietary goods. Sometimes called “cramming,” a family member who wants to use a family heirloom for the cremains may be coerced into buying an “approved” urn or casket that is only sold by the provider, at a premium of course.
  • Misrepresenting legal requirements for funeral or cremation services. Unscrupulous providers may insist that embalming is required by law, even in a direct cremation with no viewing or funeral service, despite the fact that embalming is not a statutory requirement in most states.

Now that you know what a Cremation Scam looks like, here are some steps you can take to avoid falling victim to such scams:

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

Cremation providers should be willing to answer any questions that you or your family may have. If a provider fails to answer questions, is evasive or tries to hurry your family into a decision that does not feel right, you could be at risk for a scam. Be sure to meet with family members and even a family attorney to organize your questions in advance. Such questions can include:

  • How can I be sure that my loved one’s cremains are actually his or hers?
  • How will the cremains be presented to the family?
  • How long will the Cremation process take and how long will cremains be held prior to pick-up?
  • Do you offer support services for bereaved families, especially young children?

Research the Cremation Provider

As more and more families opt for Cremation in lieu of burial, “fly by night” cremation-only providers have begun to appear. In the same way that you would investigate a general contractor before building a house or hiring an attorney to draft a will for your family, you should investigate the credentials and performance of your Cremation provider. Here are some ways to conduct your investigation:

  • Visit the provider’s website and locate the provider’s physical address
  • Most provider websites include an “About Us” section. In many cases, you can double-check that information with public resources, including the Better Business Bureau and certain state-specific licensing agencies
  • Be wary of offers that may be too good to be true. Contact at least two providers so that you can compare products and services. The more offers you compare, the better
  • Read online reviews on social media and other online resources such as Yelp and Google
  • Where possible, follow-up with references

Arrange for a Witness be present at the Cremation

Request that a family member or representative (such as an attorney) witness the Cremation to ensure that no mishandling or mistakes in identification happen at any point during the Cremation process. The family representative must be able to visually identify the individual being cremated as a safeguard to ensure to that your loved one’s cremains are being returned to the family. Keep in mind that some states do not allow witnesses and some crematories have specific rules and regulations concerning witnesses, including additional fees to allow for a witness.

Get Everything in Writing 

Do not commit to any Cremation services until you have received all documentation in writing and have had a chance to review, including having legal counsel review the documents.

Know Your Rights 

As a consumer, your rights are clear under the FTC’s Funeral Rule, which describes in detail how providers of funeral services should provide burial and cremation services. Knowing your rights can help you to avoid the cremation and funeral scams listed above.

The FTC’s Funeral Rule applies to all types of funeral and cremation service providers except third-party sellers like casket and urn dealers or cemeteries without an on-site funeral home. Your rights when purchasing or contracting services for burial or cremation include:

  • The right to buy only the services and products you want.
  • The right to refuse embalming. Many state laws do not require embalming as the only preservation process. In some cases, refrigeration may suffice. Check with your specific state laws before being forced to pay for embalming.
  • The right to get price information by phone without agreeing to buy.Funeral service providers are required by law to give you the prices you request by phone without requiring you to provide your name or other information. You also have the right to compare prices without being obligated to purchase a provider’s services.
  • The right to a written, itemized price list and written statement that lists your products and services.
  • The right to use a container other than a casket for cremation.A provider might try to coerce you into purchasing a casket for cremation even though no laws require it. The provider must offer alternatives such as wooden boxes or cardboard.
  • Know your rights and Cremation requirements in your state.

Pre-Planning 

Not only can Pre-Planning save your family money, it is always better to make such important decisions ahead of time so that all aspects can be researched and evaluated. Rarely are proper decisions made under duress or during a time of grief and confusion.

Veterans Benefits for Cremation 

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides certain burial benefits for veterans of U.S. military service that covers free interment in a National Cemetery and associated military honors, and those benefits can also be used for cremation services. Ask your cremation provider how they are equipped to accommodate veterans and their families.

What Can You Do if You Fall Victim to a Scam?

What actions can you take if you experience cremation fraud or fall victim to a cremation scam? Your rights under the FTC’s Funeral Rule are protected by several agencies and organizations, and you can report any experiences of fraud or scams to these entities for further investigation. You can report a funeral or cremation scam to the FTC here. State Attorneys General also investigate consumer complaints pertaining to funeral services. You can contact the Attorney General’s Office in your state by searching online.

Business organizations also track complaints about the funeral and cremation industry. The Better Business Bureau and Consumer Protection Agency pursues reports of scams/fraud, and so does the Consumer Protection Agency.

As you can see above, education is the best way to avoid falling victim to any cremation or funeral scams. At Cremation Society of America, we are committed to providing you and your family with the most competitive and dignified Cremation services available. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for more information.

Let Us All Give Thanks

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.