Archive for the ‘Legal’ Category

What is the Difference between a Casket and a Coffin?

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

burial in a casket or coffinOutside the funeral industry, the terms “casket” and “coffin” are often used interchangeably to describe the vessel in which the deceased is placed before being buried in the ground. Most people recognize both words, and are comfortable using both in situations related to death and burial.

In reality, a casket and a coffin are not the same things. A coffin (a term that has been around since the 1500s) is the traditional burial box we associate with death. Shaped to fit the human body (with six or eight sides, wider at the top for the arms and torso), a coffin is designed to be built fairly cheaply and with a minimum amount ofmaterials. Because many people in history built their own coffins, or hired a coffin maker to do it, the emphasis was on practical burial that didn’t put a strain on family finances. Coffins are almost always made of wood instead of more valuable metals.


What to Do with a Wedding Ring when a Loved One Dies

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

couple sharing wedding vows

Few pieces of jewelry have more meaning than a wedding ring. Although family heirlooms, class rings, sports jewelry, and other items often have sentimental value of their own (not to mention high price tags), it’s the sign of our lasting commitment that carries the most weight.

When a spouse or parent dies, it can be difficult to know how to handle the issue of the wedding ring. Should it be buried with the deceased? Kept aside to be passed down to the next generation? Otherwise memorialized so that everyone can enjoy it? (more…)

Notifying Social Security about a Death

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

Notifying Social Security about a DeathManaging the death of a loved one might seem like a highly private and personal affair, but there is actually a complex maze of paperwork, bureaucracy, and government involvement that has to take place before the deceased can be laid to rest. Although most of the initial paperwork will be filled out by city officials and your funeral director, it’s a good idea to know what is being filed where—and why.

Social Security Administration

Just as the Social Security Administration must be notified of a child’s birth, so must they be notified of an individual’s death. This is necessary to stop the deceased’s Social Security Number from being used (either legally or illegally), and to ensure that there is an official record of death with the U.S. Government. (more…)

How to Choose a Funeral Director

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

How to chose a funeral directorWhen you’re choosing a funeral home to help you with funeral planning, you’re not just considering which facility is best—you’re also interviewing funeral directors. Because you’ll be relying on one individual for so much of your support and decision-making, it’s important that you feel a connection with your funeral director built on trust and understanding. Although you probably won’t have time to call and get to know every funeral director in the event of a sudden death, you can take a few minutes to chat with them to get a feeling for who you’d like to work with.

 What Does a Funeral Director Do?


Common Funeral Planning Mistakes

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Grief - man with white roses at urn funeralFuneral planning is never an easy task, especially since it’s something few people are trained for (and because it’s something you hopefully don’t have to practice very often). Being caught unaware of the correct protocol is one of the easiest ways to overpay or get taken advantage of, which is why it’s a good idea to become familiar with the biggest funeral planning pitfalls ahead of time.  (more…)

Financial Spring Cleaning

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Estate Planning PaperworkSpring is a time of renewal and rebirth, when the melting snow gives way to new life and people start reorganizing their closets for the warm season to come. Financial experts also suggest you use this time to consider pulling out your estate and funeral planning to ensure that everything is in order and up-to-date.

Where to Start?

When we talk about making advance estate and funeral plans, we mean much more than putting money in a 401(k) or taking out a life insurance policy. While both these things are great first steps, they don’t encompass the breadth of options available to you as you organize your end-of-life plans. (more…)

Cremation FAQs

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Fire smoke What is Cremation?

Cremation is a way of disposing of bodily remains that is both economical and ecologically friendly. Although many people choose cremation for personal, cultural, or religious reasons, the reality is that most people opt for cremation because of its relatively low cost (when compared to burial).

How Does Cremation Work?

In the process of cremation, a body is exposed to high levels of heat and flame for 1 to 3 hours. During this time, the body is broken down into ashes and large bone fragments (which are later ground down to give the appearance of ash). Family members are then able to collect these ash remains, also known as cremains, to be disposed of however they wish.

Who Performs a Cremation?


5 Questions to Ask Before You Start Funeral Planning

Monday, April 14th, 2014

Cemetery is the dawn's lightOnce you’ve made the decision to begin funeral planning, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by all the information and options out there. Choosing cremation vs burial, picking between dozens of local funeral homes, considering funeral insurance vs a pre-plan funeral package…these are just a few of the options that pop up in the beginning of your search.

Because few purchases will ever be more personal than the ones you make regarding your own death, it’s important to take a deep breath and relax as you move forward. Although time is one of the few things none of us has an unlimited amount of, you should never plan a funeral in haste. It’s too easy to overpay or buy services you don’t need if you feel pressured to make immediate decisions.


Best Places to Scatter Ashes

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Peaceful nature sceneIf you’ve recently cremated a loved one and are looking for creative yet respectful ways to dispose of the ashes, an ash scattering ceremony is a good choice. Although not every public or private area allows for this kind of option, these locations are some of the favorites for scattering ashes and saying goodbye.

  • Garden or Flowerbed: There’s no reason why you have to travel to the ocean or far away to send the proper respects to the deceased. One of the most popular places to scatter ashes is in the deceased’s garden, orchard, or flowerbed. Because it’s your own land, you don’t have to worry about getting permission, and you can erect any kind of monument you want afterwards.

How Much Does Burial Insurance Cost?

Saturday, April 5th, 2014

People at funeral consoling each otherOne of the easiest ways to pre-pay for a funeral is to buy burial insurance (also known as funeral insurance). Instead of picking out details like caskets or cemeteries now, you simply set aside a lump sum that is payable out to your beneficiary upon your death. They can then use the money to fund your funeral in a way that fits with your wishes and their grieving needs.

Because burial insurance is a “guaranteed” payout (unlike car insurance, which will only pay out in the event of an accident, everyone will eventually die and collect on their burial policy), most of the costs are fixed. Your policy provider will take into account your age, your desired method of payment, and how large your payout is. From there, you will choose a policy that fits with your needs. This means that while one person (say, a 50-year-old in good health) might pay a fairly small monthly charge, another person (someone in their 70s who is a smoker) can expect larger monthly fees and even big upfront costs.


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