Q: What is the significance of a funeral service?
A: From the beginning of recorded history, societies have honored those who have died with a ceremony. According to beliefs at that time, the purpose of the ritual was to send the deceased on his or her journey into the afterlife. Today, however, many experts agree that the benefits of a service are for those who are left behind. In essence, it provides "closure" of sorts to help survivors adjust to their loss. It provides the opportunity for friends and family to celebrate the life that was lived and allow the healing process to begin.
Q: Why have a public viewing?
A: Viewing is a very public event rooted in many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many grief specialists believe that viewing helps the grieving process by helping bereaved family and friends recognize the reality of death. Children are encouraged to attend, as long as the process is explained and the activity is voluntary.
Q: What are the costs associated with a funeral?
A: Funeral costs vary depending on the funeral home and type of service selected. There are two types of costs associated with a funeral. First, services provided by the funeral home. Secondly, funeral-related merchandise such as a casket or urn.
Q: Is everything included in the price provided by the funeral home?
A: All charges involving the funeral home's services and merchandise are upfront and available from our professional staff. There are no hidden costs or up-charges.
Q: How much does an average funeral cost?
A: The average cost of a traditional funeral today is approximately $6,000. This includes professional services of the funeral director and staff, embalming, use of the facilities for visitation and the funeral service, transportation from place of death to the funeral home, necessary vehicles, casket, and vault. Not included in this amount are items such as cemetery lots, opening and closing the grave, paid newspaper obituary notices, certified death certificates, monument expenses and honorarium given to clergy and musicians. In short, the average cost will increase or decrease depending on merchandise and services selected.
Q: Can I make my funeral arrangements before I die?
A: Yes. Prearrangement and prepayment of funerals are becoming more and more common. Prearranging will provide you with more time to review your options and give you a choice in your own funeral service. It also provides you with the peace of mind in knowing everything has been taken care of, relieving your family of the emotional stress and financial burden of making arrangements at the time of death. In addition, making arrangements in advance also guarantees today's prices avoiding inflation and price increases.
Q: Do you have to have a funeral director to bury the deceased?
A: In most states, family members may bury their own dead although regulations vary. However, most people find it very trying to be solely responsible for arranging the details and legal matters surrounding a death.
Q: What is the purpose of embalming?
A: Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, retards the decomposition process, and enhances the appearance of a body disfigured by traumatic death or illness. Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, thus allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them.
Q: Does the law require embalming?
A: Except in certain special cases embalming is not required by law; however, embalming will be necessary if you select certain funeral arrangements such as viewing during visitation or a delay of more than 24 hours before interment. If you do not want embalming, you have the right to choose an arrangement that would not require it such as closed casket services with immediate burial, within 24 hours of death, or cremation prior to your services.
Q: When death occurs, does someone come right away?
A: Yes, if you request immediate assistance. If the family wishes to spend a short time with the deceased to say goodbye, which is acceptable, we will come when the time is right for you.
Q: If a loved one dies out of state, can a local funeral home still help?
A: Yes. We can assist you with out-of-state arrangements, either to transport the remains back home or help coordinate funeral arrangements with an out-of-state funeral home on your behalf.
Q: What does the cremation process involve?
A: The death certificate must be completed, signed by the attending physician or medical examiner, and all civil and medical authorities must have issued all required permits before cremation can take place. In addition, authorizations must be obtained from the next of kin or authorizing person without any objections being raised. Cremation then takes place and the remains are placed in the designated container or urn.
Q: Are special cremation containers and caskets available?
A: We offer a wide variety of cremation containers and caskets to suit each family's needs.
Q: Are the services held before or after cremation?
A: Services are held at the discretion of each family. Many choose to have a traditional service first, followed by the cremation while others choose to hold a traditional service with the remains present in the urn.
Q: Can I still have a visitation and/or funeral service if I wish to be cremated?
A: Yes. There are many options available today with regards to cremation. The act of cremation is simply a form of disposition of the body, taking the place of burial. While you may desire a direct cremation with no services, many people are choosing to have visitation and a funeral service prior to the cremation. Others choose to have a memorial service after the cremation, and many times families choose to display the urn at the service.
Q: What happens to the cremated remains?
A: There are many options to consider with a cremation. A family can choose to bury the remains in a cemetery, store and display them at home in an urn or scatter them in a place special to the deceased. It is advisable to check local restrictions on scattering remains on public property and obtain permission for private property.
Q: How does Schmidt & Bartelt fund funeral trusts?
A: Schmidt & Bartelt uses insurance funding for the majority of funeral trusts that we establish with families. These funds are held in an irrevocable insurance trust.
Q: Can funeral arrangements be planned and paid for in advance?
A: Yes. Once these prearrangements are made, you may decide to prepay your funeral to secure the price at today's cost. The interest that accumulates on your funds is then used to offset the increase in cost. At Schmidt & Bartelt, we use several funding vehicles such as insurance and trusts. We guarantee that your funeral funds will be secure and protected.
Q: What happens to my prearrangement should I choose to move?
A: Most prepaid arrangements are established using an irrevocable contract to protect the funds from being acquired by the State, the funeral home or the family before death occurs. Your arrangements, however, are easily transferred to another funeral home should you decide to leave the area.
Q: Can prearrangement details be transferred to Schmidt & Bartelt?
A: We do welcome prearrangement transfers. If you have an existing prearrangement and would like to use Schmidt & Bartelt, you may bring the papers you have and talk with one of our funeral directors about the transfer.
Q: How many types of caskets exist, and why are some more expensive than others?
A: Caskets are made of either metal (bronze, copper or steel) or wood. Prices vary depending on the exterior and interior materials used. Bronze, a semiprecious metal, is more expensive than steel. Mahogany, a rare hardwood, is more expensive than the readily available softwood pine. Green funeral merchandise is also available.
Q: Is a vault required at the cemetery?
A: Some cemeteries do not require the use of outer burial containers. However, many perpetual care cemeteries in our area do require some form of outer burial container. The word vault is used to describe an outer container that is waterproof by an air seal or by a top seal. The purpose of a burial vault is to protect the casket and the cemetery grounds over time.
Q: How much of my funeral expenses will Social Security cover?
A: The Social Security Administration may pay a lump sum death benefit to the surviving spouse, provided the deceased and their spouse were living together at the time of death. Entitled children may be eligible for a lump sum as well, if the deceased received monthly benefits at the time of death. To learn what you or your family is entitled to, contact the Social Security Administration directly at (800) 772-1213 or visit www.ssa.gov.
Q: As a United States veteran, will the Veterans Administration pay for my funeral expenses?
A: Each veteran, discharged other than dishonorably, is entitled to a burial flag and a government grave marker for an unmarked grave. If the death is ruled to be service connected, there may be additional monies available.
Q: What recourse do I have for poor service or being overcharged?
A: The FTC and state licensing board regulate funeral services. In most cases, you should address the problem with the funeral director first. If the dispute remains unresolved, you should contact the Funeral Service Consumer Assistance Program (FSCAP). They provide information, mediate disputes, provide arbitration, and maintain a consumer guarantee fund for reimbursement of services rendered. To contact FSCAP, call (708) 827-6337 or (800) 662-7666.

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“The death of my grandfather helped me realize
what the true meaning of family really is.”

Vito Marchese