Questions & Answers

 

Q…. How can I know if a funeral home is locally owned?

A… This is becoming more and more difficult with the growing trend of impersonal corporate take-overs and consolidations in funeral service. Typically, after the firm has changed ownership, the new owners keep the old name making it difficult for anyone to know there was a change. Independently owned funeral homes like ours, still out-number the "internationals". Our advice is to call the home and ask if they are part of a conglomerate, if you have any doubts. We have chosen to not only work here, but our family has lived here since 1826.

 

Q… Do we have to use a limousine?

A… No, you don’t. Many families choose to use their own cars for the funeral procession. This is just one of over 48 options we have on our itemized funeral arrangement form. We do not dictate which of our services you must use. You customize the service to your needs and desires. Limousines are convenient but you don’t have to pay for one if you do not use one. Some funeral homes tell you, "it’s included", but it will also included in their overhead charge. We do not include optional items you do not ask for.

 

Q….What happens to the jewelry a body is wearing in the casket?

A… It is the survivors choice whether it is buried or removed. We always ask their preference at the time of arrangements. We ask again just prior to the funeral service in case there is change.

 

Q….What does a funeral cost?

A… This is impossible to answer without sitting down with the survivors and discussing their needs and wishes. No two funerals are exactly alike.

Traditions, customs, personal feelings, financial ability and a multitude of other influences affect each funeral. We conform our services to each individual family’s wishes and their personal and religious needs. We encourage pre-planning arrangements when emotions are not stressed.

 

Q….What is "Entombment"?

A… "Entombment" is one of the options a family might choose for the final disposition of a body. It describes the placing of the remains above ground into a crypt or space in a structure for this purpose, called a mausoleum. Mausoleums can be either small and private or large and public.

 

Q….Dad wants to be cremated. Do we have to bury him?

A… No, but most people choose a final resting place as a sign of love and respect for the deceased. This could be in a grave or in a columbarium (a structure containing niches where cremated remains are placed). Think of it as a last gift for Dad.

 

Q….What is a "Columbarium"?

A… A "columbarium" is a type of above ground vault with spaces called "niches" that are used to store cremated remains ("cremains"). Columbariums are often found in cemeteries. The cremains are usually placed in urns. Some niches have glass fronts to view the urns.

  

Q…. We have pre-need arrangements with a funeral home that has changed ownership. Can we change to another funeral home now?

A… Yes. Whether or not any money has changed hands, New York State law allows for the transfer of arrangements at any time prior to the death of the person named in the pre-need contract. In fact, the family can change the funeral home at any time prior to the final disposition (burial, entombment, cremation) of a decedent. Feel free to call us if you have any questions regarding this or any other concerns you may have.

   

Q….How do I choose a cemetery?

A… There is an old saying, "The acorn falls close to the tree." Many people choose to be buried close to their birthplace or near where they lived. Visit the cemeteries, ask their policies regarding monument and landscape placement, check their prices and ask if they make winter burials. Observe their ground maintenance. We can help you with this choice.

 

Q…. Why are "certified" copies of the death certificate necessary?

A… Insurance companies, banks, motor vehicle departments, among others, require a copy of the death certificate that has a raised seal embossed on it (that is "certified") before any claims or liquidation’s can be made on an estate. The number of "certifieds" needed is dependent on the institution - not the document. For instance, if the deceased had six life insurance policies, all with one company…. only one certified copy is needed.

 

Q….What are "cash advances"?

A… "Cash advances" is a quasi-legal term referring to a series of charges that appear on a funeral home’s itemized statement. These charges are "advances" made by the funeral home on behalf of the family, to third parties such as clergy, organists, cemeteries and crematories. They are determined during the arrangement conference between the funeral director and the family. By law, these charges are billed to the family in the exact amount paid by the funeral home. Typically, several checks for these charges would be required to be written by the family. We take that burden off the family by delivering our "advance" checks to these third parties. The family need only write one check to us.

 

Q… Why are most calling hours 2:00 to 4:00 and 7:00 to 9:00 PM?

A… This varies with location and personal preference. Most people choose this option. It allows for afternoon hours when seniors are likely to come and the evening time when others may find it more convenient. The break allows time for the family to eat and rest.

 

Q….Who should I call if death occurs away from home?

A… Call a funeral home where most of the service (calling hours, funeral, and burial) will be done. We routinely arrange for the transportation of remains back home by contacting a funeral home near the place of death. We instruct them to remove, embalm and prepare the remains for return. By calling us first, you accomplish two things: 1. You can feel more comfortable arranging difficult details with someone you know. 2. You will save money by not hiring two firms (the shipping firm is paid by us). We can also arrange for bereavement air fare and ticketing for relatives.

 

Q… Am I normal?

A… Pat and I are often asked this by grieving family members who have experienced sleepless nights, confusion, loss of appetite, and other disruptions in their daily routine.

Yes, most likely you are normal. Each individual has their own time table for grieving. People need to accept their feelings and be patient with themselves as they learn to accept the reality of a loved one’s death. Grief is a process not an event.

 

Q….Can there be burial in the Winter?

A… It depends on the cemetery. In most cases locally, we can make burial. The out-lying rural cemeteries sometimes don't have the equipment or the personnel to break the frost or clear the snow. Those cemeteries may have a holding facility to house casketed remains until spring.

 

Q….What can I say to the family?

A… We often advise callers that just their presence is enough. Often silence and a warm hug or handshake is more appropriate than rehearsed or scripted lines. Statements like, "How are you doing?", should be avoided, as they tend to internalize the bereaved’s thoughts to how bad they are doing. It is better to ask, "Is there anything I can do to help?" Funerals are for the benefit of the living. The expressed support and sympathy of the community can give the family great comfort at this difficult time. "Grief shared is grief deminished."

 

Q…. What are your hours?

A… Like a police or fire department, we must be available 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Unlike a police or fire department however, we don’t have the luxury of rotating shifts. Therefore, ours is a 168-hour work week. National studies have shown that it takes an average of 92 staff-hours to properly conduct one funeral. Even services completed in three days (72 hours) will demand the 92 staff-hours hours to arrange, supervise and conduct.

 

Q….Do you have an internet website ?

A… Yes. We were the first CNY funeral home to establish a "web presence". We offer a wealth of free information and links on our website. Designed, authored and published "in-house" by Fred Fergerson, www.FergersonFuneralHome.com offers a virtual tour of our home, without leaving your home.

 

Q…. I would like to be cremated…can I still be viewed?

A… Yes. In fact, most families who elect cremation, also choose to have calling hours and a service before the cremation. Cremation is only a form of disposition. Its no different than the choice between burial in a grave or entombment in a mausoleum. The choice of cremation is followed by the choice of what to do with the "cremains" (ashes). We find that most families bury the cremains in a cemetery with another family members. This allows a site for visitation and memorialization.

 

Q….Does everyone use the same size casket?

A… Generally, yes. Some folks need a larger size. They are available in select models. Unfortunately, children and babies who die need to have small caskets and we have those, too.

 

Q…. How do I select a funeral director or funeral home?

A… This choice should be similar to the one you make for a doctor or lawyer. If you don’t personally know one, then word of mouth and references made by trusted friends and family members is your best advice. With the growing trend of corporate take-overs and consolidations this choice is made more difficult. We have chosen to remain members of this community, rather than a impersonal conglomerate. We hope this helps makes your choice somewhat easier.

 

Q….Can the immediate family serve as pallbearers?

A… If that is their wish, of course. Typically, bearers (those who carry the casket) are friends of the family, fraternal or business associates or in the case of veterans, military units. The family members are needed to be in close support of the surviving spouse. As pallbearers, they would necessarily be separated from that role while moving the casket.

 

Q….Who regulates funeral service in New York?

A… The NYS Dept. of Health governs licensing and registration of directors and funeral homes. The list of regulatory agencies is almost endless and reads like alphabet soup; ei. FTC, EPA, DEC, DOT, DMV, IRS, OSHA, DSS, VSA, FCC, BVS, BMI, ASCAP as well as special building codes and the normal business laws.

 

Q….Can I pre-pay for my own funeral?

A… Yes. Many people find that pre-funding a funeral gives them peace of mind that their final wishes will not burden their survivors. After pre-arrangements are made (service, burial casket & vault selection), we offer pre-payment as an option. The money is set aside in an interest bearing account in the person’s name. The interest earned in a fully funded account will typically offset any inflation costs. The overage is refunded to the survivors. An exception to this is the person who applies for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or the Medicaid Program.

 

Q….My mother needs Medicaid assistance, can she pre-pay for her funeral?

A… Yes. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid Program applicants must "spend down" their resources before being accepted to public assistance. One of the things her social worker will suggest is to make and pre-fund funeral arrangements. Those funds, by law, have to be placed in a irrevocable interest bearing trust. Upon death, the trust is paid to the funeral home up to the current amount of the funeral and the interest earned over that amount must be forwarded to the County. Any pre-paid accounts made prior to Medicaid application are also interest bearing, but are revocable.

 

Q….Can I pre-arrange my own funeral?

A… Yes. There is a self pre-arrangement trend that is growing across the country and is reflected locally. We support and encourage this trend as it has many benefits: 1. YOUR needs and wishes are meet. 2. YOU can control the cost! 3. Burden is removed from your survivors. 4. They help you to put your house in order. 5. They eliminate hasty decisions at an emotionally confusing time. 6. The need to wait for distant relatives to arrive before making "at-need" arrangements is eliminated. 7. Most importantly pre-arrangements provide peace of mind for you and your family.

 

Q….Can I have a poem on my monument?

A… Probably, but each cemetery has its own rules for monuments. Your monument dealer will check with the cemetery for approval before proceeding with the engraving. You should take your time for your decisions will "be carved in stone".

 

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