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Frequently Asked Questions

What purpose does a funeral serve? 
It is the customary way to recognize death and its finality. Funerals are recognized rituals for the living to show respect for the dead and to help survivors begin the grief process. 

Does a body need to be embalmed?
Utah State Law states a body needs to be embalmed or refrigerated if it is held longer then 24 hours. Most states, however, require embalming when death was caused by a reportable contagious disease or when remains are to be transported from one state to another by common carrier.

What is the purpose of embalming? 
Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, retards the decomposition process, and enhances the appearance of a body disfigured by traumatic death or illness. Embalming makes it possible to lengthen the time between death and the final disposition, thus allowing family members time to arrange and participate in the type of service most comforting to them. 

Does a body have to be embalmed for cremation to take place?
Utah State Law does not require a body to be embalmed for cremation unless the body is held longer then 24 hours and refrigeration is not available. A funeral home can not charge you for this service if you did not ask for embalming.

Why have a public viewing? 
Viewing is part of many cultural and ethnic traditions. Many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death. Viewing is encouraged for children, as long as the process is explained and the activity voluntary.

Can you have a funeral service before cremation?
Cremation is a form of disposition just like burial.  Most funeral homes have cremation caskets, and rental caskets for the ceremony and then have the cremation take place afterwards.

Is cremation a substitute for a funeral? 
Cremation is an alternative to earth burial or entombment for the body's final disposition and often follows a traditional funeral service.

Can a body be transported to another state without being embalmed?
Utah State Law does not require a body to be embalmed before being transported across state lines.  This requirement is different in most states and should be comfirmed with the requirements of the state that is being transported to.

Do all cemeteries require burial vaults?
Each cemetery in the state of Utah set it’s own requirement.  There is no Utah State Law requiring one.

How soon can a burial, cremation, or transportation out of state take place?
Utah State Law requires a Death Certificate to be filed at the health department before burial, cremation, or transporting out of state can take place. The time usually depends on how soon the doctor can sign the Death Certificate or the time the cemetery needs to be ready.

 Isn't burial space becoming scarce? 
While it is true some metropolitan areas have limited available cemetery space, in most areas of the country, there is enough space set aside for the next 50 years without creating new cemeteries. In addition, land available for new cemeteries is more than adequate, especially with the increase in entombment and multi-level grave burial.

What is a “Green Burial”?
A green burial is where you choose to have the body return to the earth as natural as possible.  No embalming and a biodegradable casket can be used to avoid slowing down the natural process.

Can all funeral homes do “green burials”?
Utah State Law requires a death certificate to be filed before the burial. If burial can not be done within 24 hours, then refrigeration or embalming is required.  Most cases it takes 2 or 3 days for the doctor to sign the DC and for it to be filed There are embalming fluids that are enviormentally friendly that can be used during this time if refrigeration is not available.

Do you have to have a funeral director to bury the dead? 
In most states, family members may bury their own dead although regulations vary. However, most people find it very trying to be solely responsible for arranging the details and legal matters surrounding a death. 

Is it possible to have a traditional funeral if someone dies of AIDS? 
A person who dies of an AIDS-related illness is entitled to the same service options afforded to anyone else. If public viewing is consistent with local or personal customs, that option is encouraged. Touching the deceased's face or hands is perfectly safe. Because the grief experienced by survivors may include a variety of feelings, survivors may need even more support than survivors of non-AIDS-related deaths. 

 What recourse does a consumer have for poor service or overcharging? 
Funeral service is regulated by the FTC and state licensing boards. In most cases, the consumer should discuss problems with the funeral director first. If the dispute cannot be solved by talking with the funeral director, the consumer may wish to contact the Funeral Service Consumer Assistance Program. FSCAP provides advice, information, and guidance.  If a funeral home is a member of the UFDA/NFDA, they have a Code of Professional Conduct and there is an enforcement process.  FSCAP cannot:

  • Provide funding for funeral services.
  • Mediate disputes, but can refer you to others that can.  In the case of a formal compalint involving an NFDA member firm, the NFDA investigator in the case may attempt to mediate a resolution.
  • Act as a regulatory enforcement or discipinary authority, but can refer you to agencies that can.
  • Refer you to a specific funeral director or firm, but can help you locate NFDA members in your area.

  (To contact FSCAP, call The National Funeral Directors Association at 800-228-6332) 

 Do funeral directors take advantage of the bereaved? 
Most funeral directors are caring individuals who help people deal with a very stressful time. They serve the same families 80% of the time, and many have spent most of their lives in the same community. If they took advantage of bereaved families, they could not stay in business. The fact that the average funeral home has been in business over 59 years shows that most funeral directors respect the wishes of the bereaved families.

Is it right to make a profit from death? 
Funeral directors look upon their profession as a service, but it is also a business. Like any business, funeral homes must make a profit to exist. As long as the profit is reasonable and the services rendered are necessary, complete, and satisfactory to the family, profit is legitimate. 

Who pays for funerals for the indigent? 
Other than the family, there are veterans, unions, and other organizational benefits to pay for funerals.  A  lump sum death payment from Social Security is only available if there is a spouse  In most states, some form of public aid allowances are available from either the state, county, or city or a combination. Most funeral directors are aware of the various benefits and know how to obtain them for the indigent. However, funeral directors often absorb costs above and beyond what is provided by agencies to insure the deceased a respectable burial.


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