"REVERENCE, DIGNITY AND REASONABLE PRICES"
- Is embalming required by law?
No, law only in rare circumstances requires embalming. But most
funeral homes do not allow public viewing without embalming. In many
instances we are able to offer families the opportunity for a
private viewing prior to burial with minimal preparation not
- Is a casket required for cremation?
No, a casket is not required by law for cremation. The law requires
a minimal alternative container (usually cardboard). Families always
have the option to use a casket if they so desire and there are many
reasonably priced caskets made specifically for cremation. Many
families choose to have a visitation and/or service prior to
cremation and would like to select a suitable casket
- Is a casket required for burial?
The law does not require a casket for burial. In cases where direct
burial is chosen, families may use an alternative container that is
the least expensive alternative. We also have many reasonably priced
caskets starting at $395.
- Do you have to buy the casket at the funeral home?
No. Today there are several alternatives to buying a casket at a
funeral home. In 1994 the Federal Trade Commission extended the
Funeral Rule by prohibiting funeral homes from charging a surcharge
for handling a casket bought elsewhere. You may buy a casket at a
casket store and even some cemeteries sell caskets. One thing to
remember, however, is that FTC regulations do not presently cover
cemeteries and casket stores. Covenant Funeral Service features
caskets from several major companies in the casket industry at
reasonable prices. While our purpose in maintaining a casket
selection room is to meet the needs of the clients for whom we
provide services, we cannot, legally, refuse to sell a casket for
use at a different funeral provider.
- Is there a legal way to protect family assets when a person is
going on Medicaid?
Yes. With nursing home costs averaging $3000-4000 per month, many
individuals outlive their assets and need to go on Medicaid. It is
in the best interest of the resident and his/her family to make
funeral pre-arrangements and pre-fund them during the so-called
'spend down' process prior to going on Medicaid This allows the
funeral expenses to be pre-paid and not become a burden for the
surviving family. It is imperative that this be done in a way that
complies with Medicaid regulations. You may wish to review our
PRE-ARRANGEMENT . For more information
(please include shipping address) or
phone (423) 485-0911 TODAY.
- Are there environmentally
friendly options for funerals and cremation?
Some people consider cremation to be environmentally friendly since
the cremains do not take up as much space as a burial would. There
are biodegradable urns that can be used for burial at sea or for
burial in the ground. The urn is made of special clay that
disintegrates rapidly when in contact with water. Many caskets today
are made out of corrugated paper products or a variety of woods that
will eventually return to the elements.
- What are some ways to make a
funeral really commemorate the person's life?
The key to commemorating a person's life is to highlight what was
unique about that person somewhere within the funeral process. Was
the person a gardener? His favorite types of flowers could be
incorporated into the funeral flowers. A grouping of favorite
plants, even shrubs, could be arranged as a miniature garden during
the visitation and later planted in his memory. Music can also evoke
memories of the person or her heritage. For people of Scottish or
Irish heritage, the bagpipes can provide a poignant touch to the
ceremony. Choosing a favorite place for the visitation or memorial
service can be comforting for family and friends. Many places other
than funeral homes are available, such as the individual's home,
place of worship, a favorite park or stream. More and more people
are spending their last years in retirement villages or assisted
living centers. These locations usually have a community room or
chapel that quite often is available for a memorial service or even
a visitation. There are as many other ways to commemorate a person's
life as there are people; but giving thought to this in advance is
the best way to assure that the plans are carried out well.
- What are some alternatives to
having a visitation in a funeral home?
In most countries of the world, except the United States,
visitations are not held in funeral homes. Today in this country,
more people are looking for alternatives to the sometimes sterile or
unfamiliar funeral home setting. Visitations can be held in almost
any location. Many people today prefer to have a visitation in their
church. With an increasing number of people living in retirement or
assisted living homes, many of these have begun allowing visitations
for residents. There are also a number of community or historic
facilities that provide a very comfortable homelike setting for
visitations. And of course a person's own home is still a perfectly
- Aren't funeral and cremation
prices pretty much the same everywhere?
Not at all. Prices vary a lot from funeral home to funeral home,
even in the same town. Variations of hundreds- even thousands- of
dollars are not uncommon. We advise people to check with several
funeral providers in their area before making a decision. By law
funeral homes must give complete information over the phone, and
callers need not even identify themselves. It's important to get the
true 'bottom line' for the entire funeral cost. Some firms may have
lower service charges but higher casket prices. Recently some firms
have raised their service charges and lowered their casket prices in
an attempt to compete with alternative providers. Beware of one
tactic: some funeral directors have raised their itemized service
charges to outrageous levels, but give you a significant 'discount'
if you buy the casket from them. This is a practice that is being
investigated by the FTC since it conflicts with the spirit of the
policy that funeral homes may not levy a surcharge on caskets bought
- How do I get candid information
about funeral and cremation prices?
You can call, or better yet, visit several funeral homes. Be sure to
ask for a General Price List. Also ask for a Casket Price List. They
are not required by law to give the Casket Price List to you, but
many reputable firms will.
- What are the pros and cons of
buying cemetery lots in advance?
On the plus side, some people want the assurance of knowing their
graves will be close to other family members. Obviously, the longer
one puts off the purchase, the more likelihood that adjoining graves
will be sold to someone else, and prices generally tend to increase
as time goes by. On the other hand, there may be many years between
the purchase of graves and the person's death. They may move to
another city and want to be buried there. They may decide later to
be cremated. The cemetery could change ownership and maintenance may
become shoddy. The neighborhood where the cemetery is located may
become less desirable. Once a person buys a lot it is very difficult
- Is funeral pre-planning always a
Funeral pre-planning really doesn't have any downside, provided a
person does a little homework beforehand. Pre-planning is the
process of gathering information on the more than 50 decisions that
need to be made at the time of a death. These typically include the
disposition arrangements (burial, cremation, anatomical gift),
decisions about visitation, funeral or memorial services, and
merchandise (casket, urn, burial vault, etc). These are the basic
decisions that determine the major portion of the cost of funeral
arrangements. Some people may desire to go further and make
decisions about flowers, music, scripture or readings for the
service, and so on. In either case these decisions should be written
down and communicated to a trusted friend or relative who may be in
charge of carrying out the wishes. Funeral providers generally have
forms that can be used for this purpose and will maintain the
decisions in their files if you wish. Completing these decisions
removes a large emotional burden from families at the time of death.
You may wish to review our section on
For more information
(please include shipping address) or phone (423) 485-0911 TODAY.
- What questions should I ask
before pre-paying for a funeral?
Pre-paying funeral expenses can be a good way to complete the
planning process. Most pre-payment plans guarantee that the planner
will not have to pay extra at the time of the funeral since the
earnings on the funding product offset any inflationary increases.
It is always a good idea to first make sure all the prices for the
services to be rendered are a good value. You should find out where
the funds are being held if it is in trust; if an insurance product
in being used, make sure the company is reputable and has a good
record of claims payment. Also determine if there are any tax
consequences to you. And make sure you understand completely what is
guaranteed and what is not. You may wish to review our section on
For more information
(please include shipping address) or phone (423) 485-0911 TODAY.
- What's the best way to go about
selecting a funeral or cremation firm?
First determine what your needs and desires are for a funeral
service. If you are not having a wake/visitation, then selecting a
funeral home with beautiful rooms and extensive parking may result
in your paying a lot for facilities you are not using. Personal
rapport with the staff is obviously very important. Do they answer
all your questions willingly and honestly? Do they offer concrete
suggestions consistent with your desires or do they try to fit you
into their mold? Above all, do they seem like caring people?
- Where can I get books or
pamphlets on grief-related subjects, hospice, and the like?
Libraries and larger bookstores usually have a small selection of
books on these subjects. A number of Internet sources also have a
variety of titles on these subjects; some of the web sites are named
in our section on LINKS .
- How can I get funeral and
cremation information without having to go to a funeral home?
Web sites like the Federal Trade Commission, AARP, NFDA, an Funeral
Consumers Alliance have good general information on funerals and
cremation. These Web sites and others may be found in our
The Tennessee and Georgia Funeral
Directors Associations also have useful pamphlets and information.
- What are the rules for Catholics
In 1963 an Instruction from the Holy Office lifted the ban on
cremation for Roman Catholics, but it was not until 1997 that the
Vatican allowed funeral Masses with the cremated remains present.
The Church still prefers that the cremation follow the Mass, but
this is no longer a requirement. The sanctity of the body requires
that the body be placed in a 'worthy vessel' and not be scattered.
The cremated remains should be buried in a grave, placed in a
mausoleum or columbarium, or buried at sea. Since the application of
these guidelines may vary from parish to parish, it is always best
to check with the priest to get his views.
- Why is cremation becoming so
While we know that cremation has increased dramatically in the past
10 years, the reasons why are not quite as obvious. The easing of
restrictions by the Catholic Church has certainly had an effect.
Cremation can be a lower-cost alternative than burial. Options for
scattering or burying cremains in a place which had significance for
the individual may be a factor. Some see cremation as a simpler,
quicker way to go from 'ashes to ashes, dust to dust'. Others cite
environmental reasons. And some simply don't like the idea of being
placed in the ground.
- Is cremation less expensive than
That really depends on the type of services one has prior to the
final disposition. If a person selects a casket, has a visitation
and funeral service followed by cremation and chooses a cremation
urn, the cost may be equivalent to a traditional funeral service
followed by burial. On the other hand, direct cremation with no
embalming, viewing or services is usually the least expensive
alternative. It is important to shop around because even prices for
the simplest services can vary considerably among funeral and
- What's the purpose of a burial
vault and what do they cost?
Outer burial containers, also commonly known as burial vaults, are
typically required by all perpetual care cemeteries in the
metropolitan Chattanooga area to shore up the earth above the
casket. The weight of cemetery equipment such as trucks and backhoes
would crush the casket if an outer container were not used. Many
outer containers have special seals and linings which prevent water
and other substances from entering the vault. Prices range from
about $400 for the simplest to $6000-9000 for the most elaborate.
- What is the first thing to do if
a loved one dies out of town?
If a person dies out of town and is to be returned to the home
location, it usually is best to contact the hometown funeral
provider first. Usually the hometown director can handle all
arrangements in the out-of- town location and typically it is far
less expensive to make arrangements this way rather than for the
family to contact an out-of-town funeral home directly.
- Where do I get information on
donating my body to science?
Arrangements for the donation of one's body to science must be made
in advance and evidenced by authorization forms from the anatomical
- What exactly is embalming and how
long does it last?
Embalming is a process of injecting preservative fluid through the
arterial system to achieve temporary preservation of the body,
usually for the purpose of having a visitation and/or funeral
service. The duration of this preservation is difficult to predict
since it is affected by many factors such as the cause of death,
weight of the person, drug and other therapies they may have had,
and burial conditions.
- What is the bottom line on total
funeral costs? What do I need to know to get the total price?
Funeral costs are divided into three main areas. The first includes
the funeral provider's service charges for the type of service
desired. These are contained in the General Price List. The second
is composed of merchandise items such as caskets, vaults, printed
materials, cremation urns and so on. Finally, there are 'outside
expenses'--items such as cemetery or crematory charges, newspaper
notices, flowers, clergy honoraria, and copies of the death
certificate. To get an accurate idea of the funeral home's charges,
it is necessary to total up the service and merchandise charges.
Some firms may have higher service charges and lower casket prices;
some may be just the opposite. The totals can vary anywhere from
10-40%. In the Chattanooga area, the average cost of the service and
merchandise charges is about $5200-5500. Outside expenses can range
from $500 to $5000 depending on whether the person already owns
- What information does the law
require funeral directors to give consumers?
The Federal Trade Commission Funeral Rule requires funeral providers
to give information from their price lists to consumers who call on
the telephone. Callers need not identify themselves. Most funeral
firms will mail the General Price List if requested. If a consumer
personally visits the provider, the representative must give the
consumer a copy of the General Price List when a discussion of
funeral pricing takes place. If caskets and outer burial containers
are discussed, the consumer must be shown a copy of the Casket Price
List and Outer Burial Container Price List. The latter two lists do
not by law have to be given to the consumer, only shown to them.
Most reputable firms will provide copies of the list if asked.
- What makes one casket better than
All caskets serve the purpose of containing the remains for burial
or cremation purposes. Whether one is 'better' than another is a
highly personal and subjective decision. Casket prices, however,
vary depending on the outer materials used. The major difference is
either metal or wood. Within each of these categories there are a
variety of price points. With wood there are simple fiberboard
caskets, pines, hardwood veneers, solid hardwoods of increasing
beauty such as oak, pecan, cherry and mahogany. Within the metal
caskets there are lightweight steel, medium weight steel, stainless
steel, solid copper, and solid bronze. As the basic materials
increase in cost, the casket finishes, hardware, and interior
fabrics typically increase in quality and cost as well.
- Why do I need to prepay funeral
expenses if I already have a lot of insurance?
If a person's financial portfolio is extensive or there is ample
insurance coverage, prepaying for funeral expenses may not be in the
person's best interest. There may be reasons other than financial,
however, for a person to prepay funeral expenses. This may be a way
of insuring that the funeral plans are carried out exactly as
specified or it may be a way of completing the circle of planning.
- Is it a good idea to put your
funeral plans in your will?
Since wills are not usually read until after the funeral, it may not
be effective to rely on this to make sure funeral plans are carried
out. A better way is to execute a preplanning document and
distribute copies to the parties who are likely to be involved, such
as the funeral provider and a trusted family member or friend.
- What are some ways families can
participate in the funeral process that can be therapeutic?
Having some type of funeral service or memorial service is very
useful for family and friends. This ceremony may be religious or a
simple gathering of friends. In either case it should acknowledge
the fact that a person has died, but should also celebrate the
person's life. Family members and friends can help personalize the
service by helping select special readings or music. Sharing
favorite stories or memories during the visitation or service is a
wonderful way to celebrate a life. Those in attendance can be given
an opportunity to share their memories at a special place in the
service or by writing them down and giving them to the family later.
Creating a 'memory board' with pictures and captions of the deceased
brings all these family events to life. Children can be encouraged
to participate by writing or drawing something for 'grandma' that
can then be displayed and/or placed in the casket. Choosing the
clothing, hairstyle, and jewelry the deceased will wear can be
- Should children be allowed to
participate in the funeral process?
To the extent they are able, yes. It is important to explain the
funeral process to a child so he can understand what to anticipate.
It is best to keep the explanation simple but factual and avoid
words that might frighten a child. Saying that grandma 'slept away'
might cause fear that he might suffer the same fate when he goes to
bed. Giving a child a choice to participate or not is better than
forcing a decision on the child. For those who wish to be present,
it may be helpful to give them ways to express their feelings; even
if they don't know what to say, they can draw a picture or be given
some small task as part of the funeral process.
- What are the legal requirements
for the disposition of ashes after cremation?
From a public health standpoint, once a person is cremated there are
no further requirements. Local, state, or federal zoning or
environmental regulations may affect the way in which ashes/cremains
may be disposed of.
- How do I go about choosing a
There are many reputable monument/marker dealers in the metropolitan
Chattanooga area. Covenant Funeral Service offers for sale monuments
and markers at reasonable prices. Most of the products are granite
or bronze, highly durable materials, so problems in the future are
not usually an issue. The most important factors are 1.) locating
the style and material you want and 2.) good value. Since the
purchase of a marker is not an urgent decision, the best advice is
to shop around.
- What important benefits are now
available to veterans in the Chattanooga area?
With the Chattanooga National Cemetery, veterans, their spouses and
dependent children are entitled to burial or cremation spaces, the
opening and closing of the grave, grave marker, outer burial
container (or reimbursement for the cemetery's outer burial
container cost)and interment fees at no cost to the family. The cost
of these items in another cemetery could easily total $2000-4000
each. Graves may not be selected in advance and are selected by the
cemetery at the time of need.
- Can veterans be buried at sea?
Who arranges that?
Yes! Burial at sea is not just an ancient tradition practiced by
mariners of old. It is a means of final disposition of cremains and
intact remains that is offered to and still utilized by active duty
members, retirees, and honorably discharged veterans of all branches
of the United States Military. The person who would arrange that
service would be the funeral provider however many funeral providers
do not know the information or the procedures to arrange for burial
at sea. Covenant Funeral Service can arrange for burial at sea.
Although the burial at sea is performed at no charge to those
persons who qualify, there are charges that will be incurred to
reach the port of embarkation.
- If a person has no relatives, how
can they make sure their funeral plans will be carried out the way
A person with no relatives can be sure his funeral plans will be
carried out by making pre-paid pre-arrangements with a funeral
provider of his choice. After doing so it is imperative a copy of
the pre-arrangement documents be given to the person's attorney,
close friend and/ or the retirement facility where they live. He may
also carry a wallet card indicating that he has made
- Why do I need a funeral director
when I really want to handle all the funeral details myself?
The States of Tennessee and Georgia permit burial by friends and
family. Only a licensed funeral director may charge for these
services. Embalming, when requested, must be done by a licensed
embalmer. The deceased's next of kin and other family members can
carry out most other aspects of the funeral. Even here they may want
the assistance of a funeral director to guide them through the many
tasks that need to be accomplished upon the death of a loved one.
- Are there any WEB sites that are
helpful to consumers who need to plan a funeral or cremation?
Informational sites include AARP. http://www.aarp.org, the Federal
Trade Commission, http://www.ftc.gov, and the Funeral Consumers
Alliance, http://www.funerals.org. In our
LINKS section , we list many
other helpful sites.
- Can a person who has had an
autopsy or donated organs still be embalmed?
- Can I change funeral homes after
they have the body?
Yes, there is no obligation for you to stay with the mortuary that
removed the body.
- Am I stuck at the mortuary where
I prepaid for services?
NO. In Tennessee and Georgia the next of kin always has the right to
change. You may be charged a removal fee from the initial mortuary
which would then in turn show up in the new mortuaries billing. If
the new funeral provider's prices are less than those of the
prearranged provider, the additional savings may be used to satisfy
other expenses such as opening and closing the grave, etc.
- Can existing burial policies and
pre-arranged funeral plans with other funeral homes be transferred
to Covenant Funeral Service?
Yes, Covenant Funeral Service accepts burial policies and
pre-arranged funeral plans issued by other funeral providers. We
will be happy to assist you-at no cost-in transferring your existing
pre-arranged funeral plan to Covenant Funeral Service. Savings are
likely and may be applied to other costs such as opening and closing