While no one likes to think about the death of a loved one, preparing for it can help family members save money and avoid unnecessary charges. It is important to shop around and ask questions.
It is also a good idea to get any funeral establishments total dollar amount in writing BEFORE you sign the contract.
Licensed Funeral Directors
When a loved one dies, the funeral director helps families plan a service to honor their life and to support them in this difficult time. Often, he or she is required to be on-call at night and weekends. This position is very emotionally demanding and can cause burnout.
Some states require funeral directors to have a bachelor’s degree in mortuary science or equivalent experience. In addition to completing education, many funeral directors are required to pass both national and state board exams and complete an internship or apprenticeship.
Licensed funeral providers must disclose a charge for basic services when marketing their goods and services. The charges can include the services of a director and embalmer as well as caskets, urns and burial vaults. The fees may also cover administrative expenses like staff salaries, office rent and utilities. Consumers should compare prices to find the best deal and avoid funeral homes that have excessive mark-ups on goods.
Assisting funeral directors in the preparation of bodies for burial or cremation, embalmers prepare the deceased’s body by disinfecting, preparing and embalming them. The process can involve removing blood, replacing it with embalming fluid and reconstructing damaged areas of the body, while also applying makeup to provide the deceased with a natural appearance.
Licensed embalmers need to fulfill state requirements, which can include an associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree program at a mortuary science school. Some programs are fully online, while others require that students attend laboratory practice classes where they learn how to perform embalming procedures.
In addition to formal education, most states also require that aspiring embalmers complete an apprenticeship program. The exact duration of this training varies by state, but it typically involves working with a licensed embalmer under his direct supervision. In some cases, this may involve embalming a specified number of bodies to gain the experience required to become licensed.
Licensed Cemetery Operators
Licensed cemetery operators are responsible for the day-to-day operations of a cemetary. This includes selling burial plots, arranging funerals, and maintaining records. Cemetery owners are also required to have a thorough understanding of state and federal regulations surrounding burial practices.
In Craigmiles, the court invalidated a state law that allowed only licensed funeral directors to sell caskets on the grounds that it violated the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. The court found that the law did not meet the rational basis test because it did not advance a legitimate state purpose such as consumer protection.
Licensed cemetery operators must provide a copy of their price list to purchasers who order markers or foundations. The price must not exceed the operator’s direct cost of providing the goods or service. The operator must give notice of any change in the price within 30 days of the effective date of the change. The operator must also file an annual report with the registrar.
Licensed Crematory Operators
A crematory operator runs the equipment that reduces a person’s body to bone fragments. They may use traditional flame-based cremation, calcination, or alkaline hydrolysis. They also perform general maintenance and cleaning of the facility and its equipment.
They are responsible for tracking the body through the entire cremation process, and ensuring that the right cremains are returned to the family. They must be able to follow strict procedures for handling and documenting a body from the moment it arrives at the crematorium until it leaves the cremation chamber.
Many funeral homes offer apprenticeships or internships that allow aspiring crematory operators to gain hands-on experience in the mortuary industry. Some colleges even include crematory operator certification as part of their degrees. While most people know what cremation is, very few understand what a crematory operator does on a daily basis. This is a crucial role in the funeral industry.