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6/17/2014 6:02:00 AM
The final bill: Funeral planning eases a time of grief
Scott Schulte
Miner Reporter

KINGMAN - Preparations are always in place for happy times, such as the birth of children, graduations and weddings

But people don't always plan for death.

"Making arrangements for our final expenses is a very smart idea for many reasons," said Kristen Leitz Westwood, president of Lietze-Fraze Funeral Home and Crematory. "By doing this, a person's wishes are made known so there is no changing of their wishes and for people who may not have family to make such final decisions."

Some people pass away without family to make final decisions, and the body can wind up just waiting for someone to take responsibility for the deceased.

"We have had bodies here for six months because we don't have anyone to contact to make the decisions about what should be done. Most people have wills and power of attorney taken care of," Leitz Westwood said.

"Making arrangements for your death is the final step of having everything in place for your family."

The costs of final expenses are paid at the time these arrangements are made, and those costs are set in stone.

"If someone makes their final arrangements, those costs won't change, even if that person dies 30 years later - and those arrangements are transferable to any funeral home in the country," Leitz Westwood said.

"No matter how prepared people are for the death of loved one, when it happens it is much easier on everyone when everything is already decided and paid for in advance."

Options vary for bidding farewell

Life is tough - no one gets out alive, and death can be expensive for those left behind.

Just as costs vary, so do options for the dead and their loved ones. Most people choose the route of being buried, but cremation is also popular, followed by donating a body to science for research.

"There are these options and each family will choose what's best for them and the person who has died," said Jamie Sutton Zorn, funeral director with Sutton Memorial Funeral Home.

When a loved one passes away, an appointment is made with the funeral home that gets the death certificate. At that time, loved ones start making decisions as to what they would like for the person who has died.

"The decision as to what type of services will be used is made by the family," Sutton Zorn said. "But there are a few things that are required. For example, if a family wants to have a service where the body is displayed, that body must be embalmed for health reasons."

Embalming is roughly $400, depending on the funeral home.

Dying is not cheap. Many funeral homes have a minimum fee of about $1,100. Other fees include about $300 for the use of facilities and staff for three days. Use of the staff and facility for visitation runs about $175, and about $300 will be necessary for staff and services for funeral services.

Since final costs can be a burden, especially if the deceased has no life insurance, there are assistance programs through Mohave County. If the deceased is indigent, the county has a program that can be applied for at the funeral home.

Help for veterans is always available

Veterans have served their country and when they pass away, they are certainly not forgotten.

Out of respect, veterans receive special benefits upon dying.

"From the moment the veteran enters the gates of a national cemetery, everything is free. The burial, the headstone, everything done there is at no cost," said Jamie Sutton Zorn, funeral director at Sutton Memorial Funeral Home. "With regards to the spouse of the veteran, that will vary from state to state."

Although the cemetery fees are waived for veterans, it is important to note that the other costs remain: "The funeral home fees are not waived for veterans and their spouses. Those fees remain the same," Sutton Zorn said.

In the Kingman area, veterans and their spouses can receive free burials and headstones at national cemeteries, including the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona in Phoenix. At the Prescott national cemetery, only cremains are being accepted.

At the state-owned Boulder City, Nev., cemetery for veterans, the veterans are buried for free while a cost of approximately $450 is set for the spouses.

"If a veteran is being buried in a private cemetery, the VA will still provide a headstone for an unmarked grave and a flag with discharge papers" Sutton Zorn said.

Pat Farrell, president of Jerry Ambrose Veterans Council of Mohave County, noted the Marine Corps League and Veterans of Foreign Wars offer complimentary color guard and graveside services with the Marine Corps also offering to play "Taps" at no cost.

"It's important veterans and their families know about these programs," Farrell said.

"These are set up to assist families of veterans in their darkest time."

Finally, the VFW and JAVC offer graveside chaplains when needed.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, June 21, 2014
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking


"It is what is known as a “free market economy.” Don’tja just love it?"

Yeah, yeah, we get it. Leftists hate capitalism. You have made that clear more than once.

Posted: Friday, June 20, 2014
Article comment by: RIP (revel in piping) .....

Funerals are such miserable affairs most of the time, so I'm going to leave instructions for my own - a piper (I don't care if he's Irish or Scottish) will blow out "Oh when the saints go marching in" and if I have the money there will be appropriate musical accompaniment (drums and electric guitars maybe?). If the folks gathered won't join in and have a rousing good time, I did my part.

Posted: Friday, June 20, 2014
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

“If you just want a simple cremation why such a high cost here in town?”

It is what is known as a “free market economy.” Don’tja just love it?

Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2014
Article comment by: Come and get it

Hello....Science Care....we have a pick up for you.

Oh good I''ll get ashes in a couple weeks.

Throw an ash dumping party and call me done.

Cost...just for party supplies.

Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Article comment by: I Agree Just Wondering

I agree with just wondering. I also would like some insight. If you just want a simple cremation why such a high cost here in town?

Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Article comment by: grateful husband

After my wife was airlifted to Mesa Banner for treatment for her stroke, she succumbed hours later. Thank God my friend was able to recommend Angel Cremation and Burial in Mesa. The costs for cremation was around $650 and they didn't push me toward a more expensive service. This left me with more money to pay off other expenses. I hope and pray that I am in Mesa when I die. My family will not have to deal with the high costs of cremation in Kingman/Mohave county.

Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Article comment by: az mac

science care is a good way to go. No cost to the family and the body is used for good things. With in 15 days the ashes are returned. You do have to sign up with science care inadvance

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Article comment by: He He He

I will be dead.I really don't care what they do to me or who pays.

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Article comment by: Don't Forget

Better add in the costs required for burial in the cemetery, such as for digging the grave, etc. If there is to be a church service, there may be costs involved there, too.
Planning arrangements for your own death is not easy (or cheap), so can you imagine trying to make arrangements by the family AFTER a death?

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Article comment by: A Caveat

Remember to tell your loved ones you've made such arrangements! Often, they spend hard-to-come-by money elsewhere, only to discover months later that there was a pre-arrangement.

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Article comment by: just wondering

Just wondering why its only $600 to cremate in other cities like Mesa, AZ for example, but $2,000 here? Some insight would be nice.

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