funeral cremation Frequently Asked Questions Funeral & Cremation Services Chattanooga, Tennessee

Chattanooga Funeral & Cremation Service
Covenant Funeral & Crematory
Chattanooga, TN

Covenant Funeral & Crematory
4340 Bonny Oaks Drive Chattanooga, TN 37416

(423) 485-0911 -  FAX (423) 485-0970 

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Low Cost Funeral home Chattanooga, Tn. FUNERAL HOMEFrequently Asked Questions
  1. 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 involving embalming.


  2. 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


  3. 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.


  4. 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.


  5. 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 section on PRE-ARRANGEMENT . For more information click here (please include shipping address) or phone (423) 485-0911 TODAY.


  6. 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.


  7. 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.


  8. 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 appropriate option.


  9. 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 elsewhere.


  10. 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.


  11. 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 to sell.


  12. Is funeral pre-planning always a good idea?
    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 PRE-ARRANGEMENT . For more information click here (please include shipping address) or phone (423) 485-0911 TODAY.


  13. 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 PRE-ARRANGEMENT . For more information click here (please include shipping address) or phone (423) 485-0911 TODAY.


  14. 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?


  15. 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 .


  16. 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 LINKS section.

    The Tennessee and Georgia Funeral Directors Associations also have useful pamphlets and information.


  17. What are the rules for Catholics and cremation?
    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.


  18. Why is cremation becoming so popular?
    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.


  19. Is cremation less expensive than burial?
    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 cremation firms.


  20. 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.


  21. 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.


  22. 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 agency.


  23. 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.


  24. 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 cemetery property.


  25. 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.


  26. What makes one casket better than another?
    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.


  27. 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.


  28. 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.


  29. 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 therapeutic.


  30. 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.


  31. 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.


  32. How do I go about choosing a monument dealer?
    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.


  33. 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.


  34. 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.


  35. If a person has no relatives, how can they make sure their funeral plans will be carried out the way they wish?
    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 pre-arrangements.


  36. 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.


  37. Are there any WEB sites that are helpful to consumers who need to plan a funeral or cremation?
    Informational sites include AARP., the Federal Trade Commission,, and the Funeral Consumers Alliance, In our LINKS section , we list many other helpful sites.


  38. Can a person who has had an autopsy or donated organs still be embalmed?


  39. 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.


  40. 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.


  41. 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 the grave.