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Simple Traditions


These are some of the most commonly asked questions about funerals and cremation services. We hope this information will be both educational and helpful.

General FAQs

How many Death Certificates will I need?

That can vary based on your individual circumstances. Death Certificates are issued by the State or Parish Registrar where the death occurred. Each state will have their own fees for Certified Death Certificates. The following lists the most common transactions requiring certified death certificates.

  • Probating the will
  • Filing life insurance (each policy will need a copy)
  • Changing property deeds or titles
  • Selling property owned by your loved one
  • Succession planning

It is usually beneficial to order a few extra copies for unexpected needs. Photocopies are usually not acceptable for legal purposes.

How can I place an obituary notice?
Many newspapers will allow family members to place an obituary notice; others, however, may require it to be submitted through a funeral home. Either way, we can assist you in this process for a nominal composition and placement charge. Please note that most newspapers now charge for obituary notices. If we place an obituary on your behalf, we will let you know the cost from the newspaper for your approval.
Why do we need an obituary notice?
It is not required, but it is helpful to friends and the community to have an obituary notice published announcing the death and service details. A notice can be placed in a local newspaper, or online.
Who will notify the Social Security Administration (SSA)?
When any death occurs, the SSA must be notified. We will submit the initial notification of death to the SSA office which informs them of the death. We suggest the next of kin contact Social Security at their earliest convenience to determine how their benefits may change and if there are any additional benefits available for surviving family members. Information is available on the Social Security Administration website. www.ssa.gov
Does the Veterans Administration ever pay for funerals?
If death occurs while on active duty, the Department of Veterans Affairs will pay for funeral services. If the veteran was receiving a pension from the military, the family may be entitled to some benefits which we can assist in making application for. Veterans Affairs will provide for ground burial in a Veterans Cemetery at no expense to the veteran’s family. They will also provide a flag for military honors, an honor guard to fold or present the flag during a service and memorial marker for the cemetery. For additional benefits which may be available, please visit the Veterans Affairs website. www.va.gov
What should I do if a death occurs while away from home?
We can assist you if a death occurs anywhere in the world. We will assume responsibility and coordinate the arrangements for the return of the deceased person to their community. We may engage the services of a funeral director in the place of death who will act as our agent, if needed.

Funeral Services FAQs

What type of service should I have?
Only you can answer that question. The type of service conducted for the deceased, if not noted in a pre-arranged funeral plan, is decided by the family. The service is usually held at a place of worship or at the funeral home. The service may vary in ritual according to religious denomination or the wishes of the family. The presence of friends at this time is an acknowledgment of friendship and support. A private service is by invitation only, where select relatives and close friends attend the service. A memorial service is usually a service without the body present and can vary in ceremony and procedures according to the family’s community and religious affiliations.
Can I personalize the funeral service?
Absolutely, in fact, we recommend it. After all, the funeral is a celebration of life. Our funeral directors are happy to discuss all options and ensure your funeral is tailored to your wishes. It may be personalized in many unique ways.
Why should we have a public viewing?
There are many reasons to view the deceased. It is part of many cultural and ethnic traditions, and many grief specialists believe that viewing aids the grief process, by helping the bereaved recognize the reality of death. Viewing is even encouraged for children, as long as it is their desire to do so, and the process is explained in advance.
What is the purpose of embalming?
Embalming sanitizes and preserves the body, slows down the decomposition process, and enhances the appearance of a body disfigured by traumatic death or illness. It 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. Embalming the body enables mourners to view the deceased if they wish. The emotional benefits of viewing the deceased are enormous, particularly to those having difficulty dealing with the death.
Is embalming mandatory by law?
No. But, certain factors of time, health and possible legal requirements might make embalming either appropriate or necessary.
How much does a funeral cost?
Traditionally, funerals can cost as little as $3,500 for a direct disposition. (Direct disposition includes registering the death, a basic casket or container, and transporting the deceased to a cemetery or crematorium). For an adult, full-service funeral, the average cost in the United States is about $6,500. This includes all professional services like transfer of remains, embalming, and other preparation; use of viewing facilities and the facilities for the ceremony; hearse, and the purchase of a casket.

Funeral costs have increased no faster than the consumer price index for other consumer items. Similar to other family events, the type and cost of funerals vary according to the preferences, traditions and budget of the consumer. In addition, a funeral home is a 24-hour, labor-intensive business, with extensive facilities (viewing rooms, chapels, hearses, etc.). These expenses must be factored into the cost of a funeral. The cost of a funeral includes not only merchandise, like caskets and urns, but the services of a funeral director in making arrangements; filing appropriate forms; dealing with doctors, ministers, florists, newspapers; and seeing to all the necessary details.

Through Simple Traditions by Johnson, you will save at least $1,400 over traditional funeral home arrangements by making your selections online and providing the personal and obituary information necessary.

Cremation FAQs

What is cremation?
Cremation is the process of reducing the human body to bone particles and ash through the application of intense heat and/or direct flame. It is important to understand that cremation is not the final disposition of the remains. Following cremation, the family will need to decide an appropriate final disposition. The cremated remains may be kept in an urn, buried in a cemetery, or scattered in a special place in keeping with current state rules and regulation.
How long does it normally take to complete a cremation?
The process itself is brief, usually requiring 3 – 6 hours at a normal operating temperature of 1600 to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. The time required depends upon the size of the individual and type of container or casket selected. In Louisiana, it can take several days to secure the necessary documents and comply with the legal waiting period before the cremation can occur. Because of the finality of cremation, in many states, there exists a mandatory 48-hour waiting period which ensures the cremation does not occur prematurely. If a waiver to cremate can be obtained from the legal authority where the death occurred, it may be possible to proceed with cremation prior to any required delay.
Can two cremations be performed at once?
No. It is illegal to do so. Additionally, most modern cremation chambers are not of sufficient size to accommodate more than one adult. We rigorously adhere to the highest level of care and integrity in all we do to serve our families.
What happens following cremation?
Following the actual cremation, all remaining materials are retrieved from the cremation chamber and placed into a stainless steel collection pan for cooling. Once cooled, all metal materials (metal casket parts and surgical implants) are removed through visual inspection and use of a strong magnet. The remaining bone particles and ash are reduced to small particles and placed in the selected urn.
What will the cremated remains look like?
The cremated remains will resemble coarse sand and small gravel. They are typically light gray in color. The cremated remains of an average size adult would weigh 5 to 8 pounds.
Are all the cremated remains returned?
With the exception of minute and microscopic particles, which are impossible to remove from the cremation chamber and processing machine, all of the cremated remains are returned to the family.
What assurance is there that cremated remains I receive will be those of my loved one?
This is perhaps the most important concern of the families we serve, and absolutely the highest priority for us. First, prior to cremation, the identity will be verified either through a family viewing or medical or legal certification. Additionally, we have developed a highly rigorous set of operating policies and procedures in order to maximize our level of quality and assure total trust and confidence. Positive identification of the deceased is assured throughout each stage of the cremation process by our caring professionals. We only allow certified professionals to operate our cremation equipment.
Do I have to select an urn?
The cremated remains must be placed in a secure container. Although not a state regulation, we do require some type of suitable container or urn to be provided. We have many suitable containers or urns to select from beginning at $25.
What can be done with the cremated remains?
Although each state regulates this differently, there are numerous options available. The cremated remains can be buried in a cemetery, placed in a niche, kept at home, scattered (with permission) on private property, in certain public waterways or at least three miles off most coastlines. If you choose to scatter the cremated remains on land or water, it is advisable to consult the local authorities. As you make this decision, there are numerous special urns or containers designed specifically for helping with the scattering of remains.

If you decide to keep the cremated remains, a wide variety of decorative urns are available to honor the lifestyle, values and religious preferences of the individual or the family. There are also smaller, “keepsake” urns which enable the cremated remains to be divided and kept by various family members. Most recently, special “keepsake” jewelry is being designed and crafted in a variety of styles and materials. All have been designed to hold a small portion of the cremated remains.

If the cremated remains are to be buried, special burial urn vaults are available to protect and secure the urn containing the cremated remains. Although not required by state law, some cemeteries require some type of urn vault. We also offer special urns designed for scattering of remains, if desired.

Can I have a service with cremation?
For families arranging for cremation, many options and possibilities exist. Cremation can occur following a traditional funeral service with a visitation period, opened casket and service in our chapel, church or other location. Cremation can be arranged to follow a visitation period with an opened casket and a memorial service arranged at a later date. The memorial service may be as personal and unique as your loved one. The service can be arranged at any time or location and may be held soon after the death or delayed until family members can conveniently gather. Cremation may also be arranged without a memorial service or visitation.
Is embalming required before cremation?
No. Each state has its own rules and regulations governing cremation. In most states, including Louisiana, embalming is not required by law. Most common carriers (airlines etc.) will require embalming prior to transportation. The laws of the destination state or country will apply. Because of rapid deterioration following a death, most state laws require that after 24 hours of death or while in transit, the remains must be embalmed, refrigerated or placed in a leak and odor proof container. We require embalming, however, if you select a public service or visitation with an opened casket.
Can there be a viewing without embalming?
Yes. For identification purposes, the immediate family may briefly view their loved one in our private viewing room prior to cremation. Public Viewing is not permitted without embalming.
Is a casket necessary for cremation?
No, a casket is not required. Most states do require that a cremation container, which is rigid for secure handling and made of combustible materials, be used for all cremations. Simple Traditions carries a variety of alternative cremation containers and cremation caskets which meet the state standards and are very economical and manufactured especially for cremation.
Who authorizes the cremation?
The cremation must be authorized by the legally authorized person according to state law. Cremation may not be performed until a legally authorized person gives written authorization for such cremation. State law also defines the “legally authorized person” and sets up the order of priority of next of kin. It is our policy to require this written authorization be executed on our “Authorization for Cremation” form before the cremation is scheduled. This form must be signed by the next of kin as determined by the order specified by the state of death. Next of kin may be defined as:
  • Self (if allowed by state law)
  • Any person designated in a written instrument signed by the decedent (if allowed by state law)
  • Spouse
  • Child/Children of legal age
  • Parent(s)
  • Sibling(s) of legal age
  • Other adult persons in the next degree of kinship in order named by law to inherit the estate.

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