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Sun, Feb. 23

Dignity in death and the costs of burial

Some cremation urns available at Sutton Funeral Home and Crematory, providing a range of options for various prices.
Photo by JC Amberlyn.

Some cremation urns available at Sutton Funeral Home and Crematory, providing a range of options for various prices.

Death is nothing new to life. In fact, the clock is ticking as soon as we arrive here to start living. The only questions that remain are: How are we going to die, when and where we are going to die? Yes, the only assurance in this life is death and taxes. On paying taxes, you have a choice, whether to pay or not to pay, but if you don’t pay you suffer another kind of death and lose your freedom. On death, there is no choice, we are going to die whether we want to or not.

In the new millennium, there is a growing tendency to rethink the old ways that people are buried and where eternity is spent. In the old days when people passed away, they would go to their local funeral home and have a service, buy a plot and rest there forever.

Lietz-Fraze funeral counselor Krista Gunnoe said, “I believe in cremation over burial. I have two parents who have passed and I can only go see them. I don’t have anything tangible to take with me to hold, and have. I miss that, so I think it is a great thing being cremated.”

Now people are rethinking how and where they are escorted into the next life. For people who are tied to the traditional funeral, it is still available, but more than anything the ease of being ushered into the next life has to do with convenience, personalization and cost.

Lietz-Fraze funeral counselor Jackie Argo wears her mother around her neck every day in a necklace. “I wanted a piece of my mother, and I didn’t want to have to go visit her at a cemetery. She is in this piece of jewelry, which I can carry her with me every day. I didn’t want to have to go visit her, or not be able to move somewhere and not take her with me.”

Some people don’t want to be buried in the ground and if so, the other choice is mausoleum burial or cremation.

Funeral costs

The low end of a funeral cost that includes caskets, which can range as low as $1,000 and as high as the Cadillac of caskets that are around $50,000.

A bare bone’s funeral can be as low as $3,600 with no service, and that still leaves the matter of buying a cemetery plot and the opening and closing of the grave. Funerals and opening and closing of the graves are more expensive on the weekends.

With a mausoleum burial, there is still the cost of a traditional service and funeral. The major difference is, instead of having an opening and closing of the grave outside in the ground, a deceased would be buried aboveground in a tomb. They could be buried inside a building or outside in a building, depending upon the place they choose. If you believe the Bible: Jesus was buried in a tomb (mausoleum). There would still be the cost of opening and closing, like there would be with a grave.

Talking to parents about their financial life makes both feel uncomfortable, and the assumption is that the funeral arrangements will be taken care of. If there is no will or Power of Attorney disaster can hit.

Cremation cost

Lietz-Fraze has a cremation package that includes their fees; crematory fee gives six death certificates, and a seventh if the deceased is a veteran. Removal of the body, pick up the body, cremation container which is required by law. Credit of $200 toward an urn and a forget me not seed package for the families, which includes an obituary in the newspaper. Total cost of around $2,000 for everything.

72-hour rule

The quickest someone could be buried once they are deceased is 72 hours. The doctor by statute has 72 hours to complete the forms. If time is an issue than all arrangements need to be made in advance of death. The state of Arizona has allowed 7-10 business day to get a record complete.

Process of Death

  1. Once a person is deceased, funeral home must be chosen.

  2. The funeral home will contact the family.

  3. The funeral home starts the record on the web-based system the state has.

  4. The funeral home sends a remote out of station to the physician who has 72 hours to complete the cause of death.

  5. Then it goes to the county where they generate a cause of death form.

  6. The funeral home then requests a permit either burial or cremation depending on what the family has decided.

  7. The funeral home cannot request any permits until they sit down and meet with the family and get signatures.

  8. If a deceased is doing cremation, it goes to spouse, children, parents, and then siblings. Then the funeral home can request a permit and get authorization to take care of the family.


If a deceased wanted to pay with an insurance policy, the funeral home will do an assignment. That means the insurance company will send the funeral the cost of the funeral and then send any remaining money to the family.


Planning a funeral in advance with the funeral home and buying a policy through the funeral home to lock in the cost of a funeral today, regardless of how long they live. Once their policy is paid for through the funeral home if they live 50 years their funeral is taken care of. Furthermore, a person can do an assignment of their life insurance policy to the funeral home to pay for their funeral, or do a lump-sum payment for their services. Normally, through a funeral home, there are no physical qualifications as there is on life insurance policies. Health questions are not as rigid. By preplanning if a person decides to go the cremation route, a person is signing their cremation authorization.

The good news is by going with preneed a family member cannot change the wishes of the deceased. If a child wants their parents cremated because of cost, but a preneed is already on hand the funeral home has to do a burial.

Not covered

A lot of elderly have no children or immediate family members, but have niece and nephews. The state does not recognize them to sign for cremation authorization, unless they have Power of Attorney.

Power of Attorney

Most Power of Attorneys cease with the death of the deceased unless it is stipulated that a specific person can handle the funeral arrangements after they pass. Power of Attorney is mainly while that person is alive. On the medical side, Power of Attorneys have a box on the form that says: A person has the right to handle my funeral arrangement after death. Also, if the family cannot afford a funeral and the medical Power of Attorney says they cannot do organ donation, they will not be able to change it once they are dead. Especially if they have no family.

Cremation is final

Say there are two children and mom passes, and neither child can agree, it must go to court. It has to have a moral majority; the court decides between burial and cremation.

Price shop

Every funeral home must give a general price list if asked for by the consumer, and a consumer’s guide.

Lietz-Fraze believes that a family should go in and talk with a counselor beforehand, and look at the atmosphere. “If they don’t treat you well when you go in to talk to them,” Gunnoe said, “then they are not going to treat your family well.”

Cremated Remains

There are so many things that crematory can do with remains: there are little keepsakes, they can blow remains in glass heirlooms, and each one is different. They can also make thumb prints out of them or a buck knife with a thumb print on it. With cremation, you can have your loved one with you all the time wherever you go.

Organ Donation

Organ donor companies will pay for everything if you preregister with them, except the death certificates.

If a person decides to donate to an organ company and wants to be cremated, they will return the ashes to the family.

Top things people should have when someone dies.

• Have a photo ID of the deceased

• Copy of Social Security card

• Photo for an obituary

• Vital information

• Find the parents

• Maiden names

• Occupation

• Know if they want a cremation or burial

• Medical Power of Attorney

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