Monday, October 28, 2013

Snider Connects with Peers at Annual Meeting of Selected Independent Funeral Homes

Austin, TX, October 16, 2013—Rick Snider and Abby Snider-Robinson were among the many funeral service professionals attending the 95th Annual Meeting of Selected Independent Funeral Homes in Austin, TX, October 16-18. Snider is the owner of Baker/Hazel & Snider Funeral Home in Dayton.

“I always value the opportunity to gain new information and insight on how to better serve my client families and community,” said Snider. “Selected’s meeting provided valuable opportunity to gather with my fellow members of Selected Independent Funeral Homes from across North America and around the world. We participated in a variety of informative study sessions, discussed insights and shared new ideas that I’m excited to implement.”

Meeting sessions focused on important issues concerning the funeral service profession such as innovative service ideas, timely business advice and best practices.

Founded in 1917 as National Selected Morticians, Selected Independent Funeral Homes ( is the world’s oldest and largest association of independently owned funeral homes. Members of the association are expected to operate according to specific standards and best practices in order to provide the public with reliable, high-quality funeral service and funeral-related information.

“Our members pledge to uphold the Selected Independent Funeral Homes Code of Good Practice and are committed to the important responsibility they have to the families and communities they serve,’’ said Robert J. Paterkiewicz, Executive Director of Selected Independent Funeral Homes. “It’s a tradition of trust that Baker/Hazel & Snider Funeral Home has been a part of for 25 years.”

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why to have a Funeral

Why do we have funerals?

It never hurts to examine why we do what we do. Every day, the staff at LakeRidge Chapel and Memorial Designers works to ensure that major life events go off without a hitch. But behind all the hustle and bustle of arranging for flowers, transporting remains, and washing vehicles, what is going on? What is the purpose of a funeral?

“Funerals are important because they set us on the road toward healing,” says Santos Moreno, owner of LakeRidge Chapel and Memorial Designers. “They help us come to a place of acceptance and renew our sense of hope after a loss.”

Each aspect of the funeral service plays an important role in helping those who grieve, Moreno went on to explain. The different parts of a funeral are able to work together to help those who are grieving process their emotions and come to terms with the death of a loved one:

A visitation takes place before the funeral and is a time to gather together with family and friends to receive their love and support. Often, a visitation includes a viewing of the body. Seeing and spending time with the body is an important step in the healing process; it helps us acknowledge the reality of the death. As the initial shock and denial begin to wear off, we start to come to terms with the death that has occurred. We are also able to receive the comfort of our closest friends and loved ones and activate our support system.

The visitation helps us come to the funeral service in a clearer frame of mind, ready to listen or even participate. For many families, the viewing or visitation is one of the most significant and defining moments of the funeral service.

The Funeral Service/Memorial Service
A good funeral or memorial service truly reflects the unique personality of the person who has died. It is best if the officiate who is chosen has personally known the deceased. Often, friends and family also get up to share their memories or thoughts in honor of their lost loved one. They might share a eulogy, a song, a story, or a letter written by the deceased. A video tribute or special music might be played. Funerals give us time to confront our grief and emotion. All too often in our society, we are discouraged from experiencing our true emotions. We are told to “let it go,” or “move on” when we’re really not ready to. These words are very unhelpful when all we want to do is remember. The funeral service is our chance to work through the pain of our loss, and fully experience how much we will miss this important person in our life. We feel the void left behind, and search for meaning in the loss. The service, whether religious or not, should offer hope and words of comfort to those left behind.

The Procession
The procession takes place after the funeral service as mourners make their way to the burial site for the committal service. It is a powerful symbol of our mutual support of one another and a public honoring of the deceased. It is a truly touching moment when we see those who love and care for us travel alongside us on our journey to say our final farewell. Sometimes symbolic actions speak much louder than words.

The Committal Service
The committal or graveside service is our opportunity to say our final goodbyes. Usually a speaker shares a few parting thoughts and mourners may place a flower or special token on the casket. The committal service brings closure to the funeral as we see our loved one laid to rest. 

The Gathering
Following the committal service, an informal gathering usually takes place in which friends and family continue to share memories and express their condolences after the loss. Normally, a meal accompanies this gathering. It is often a time of gratitude and thankfulness for a life that was well-lived. Slide shows, personal anecdotes, photos, and memorabilia are often shared, and usually the family emerges from the funeral experience with a sense of hopefulness and a knowledge that life continues to unfold, even in the face of death.   

A Note on Cremation
If cremation is chosen as the method of final disposition, all of the phases of the full funeral experience can still be incorporated. A viewing can be held along with a funeral service and procession, only the body is taken to a crematory rather than a cemetery. Just as with a committal service, a few words may be said with the chance to say final goodbyes before the cremation takes place. Afterward, the cremated body may be buried, scattered in a scattering garden, placed in a columbarium, or kept at home in a decorative urn.  

Final Thoughts
For thousands of years, we have sought to memorialize those who have gone before us, from the great ancient tombs of Egypt, to the modern Vietnam Wall. To remember and be remembered is a basic human need. That is why we have funerals. To honor, remember, and cherish the life of those we love still, even after they are gone. It is amazing how the funeral tradition that has developed over the years does just that. It helps us remember; it helps us begin to heal; it helps us move into a renewed sense of hope after our world has been turned upside down.

From F.D.L.I.C 

Planning Funerals

Why Preplanning and Prefunding Your Funeral Makes Sense
Many people today are planning all or part of their funeral services ahead of time because without preplanning, many questions are left unanswered for our loved ones. For example, how much should we spend on the funeral? Should we go with a traditional burial or cremation? What options would she have liked? What kind of flowers? As more and more people decide to plan ahead, families are better able to create meaningful and personalized tributes to their loved ones. The staff at LakeRidge Chapel and Memorial Designers is dedicated to helping families celebrate the life of their loved ones. As a service to our community, the funeral home offers complimentary funeral planning guides to assist families in planning ahead and alleviating some of the emotional and financial stress at the time of need.

The first step to planning ahead is putting your wishes in writing. Your plan should clearly state where important documents such as life insurance policies, birth certificates, marriage license, military records, and credit obligations can be found. Your file should also contain important biographical information for the obituary notice. All this information saves your family time and added stress. Your plan will also include your preferences for funeral services--whether you want a traditional or non-traditional service. You can include your preference for flowers, music, readings, even down to the type of casket you'd like.

Once you've made your selections, you will be able to receive a free funeral cost estimate. Knowing what your funeral would cost today helps you plan ahead for final expenses so your family doesn’t have to. Added to the intense grief of loss, anxiety about financial concerns can be devastating for a family. You can help to ease the financial burden that falls on loved ones at the time of death by planning ahead.

One option is to fund the funeral in advance through a payment plan. There are many factors that should be considered when one is thinking about funding a funeral in advance. For example, will the funds grow over time to offset inflation and rising funeral costs? And, what are my family’s options if I don’t take care of this now?   

There are basically three ways to prepare for funeral costs in advance. One is to set aside the money in a bank account or CD. The problem with these is that CDs require taxes to be paid on interest earned every year, drastically decreasing net return. Bank accounts offer little to no growth, and certainly don’t keep up with inflation and rising funeral costs over the years. Another option is life insurance. While it is possible to assign life insurance to the funeral home to pay for funeral costs, there is a fee involved; additionally, life insurance proceeds don’t increase over time—they stay the same, while the rest of the economy grows. So, your $5,000 policy today will not have the same buying power tomorrow. Every year, your policy loses value.

There are financial solutions available that are specifically tailored to preparing for funeral costs in advance, and these offer the greatest protection for funeral funds. A prepaid funeral contract is a special funding vehicle that is maintained by a third-party prepaid funeral insurance provider. The contract can be paid in installments or all at once. Each contract is completely portable should you move. It also grows over time to keep pace with inflation. Finally, taxes are paid by the insurance company that maintains the policy, not the consumer. Here are some other interesting facts about prepaid funeral contracts:
·              Structured properly, prepaid contracts can be set up as a Medicaid-exempt asset.
·              By meeting a few simple health qualifications, your plan can be backed by insurance so that the contract is covered from your first payment.
·              Individuals with health concerns, in most states, can qualify for a guaranteed issue plan that provides coverage regardless of health.
·              Graded death benefit plans can offer Accidental Death coverage that will provide full benefit should an accidental death occur prior to being paid in full.
·              Your funeral insurance policy will grow tax-free, while regular funded annuities grow tax-deferred.
·              Your plan is transferable to another funeral home should you move away.
You can give your loved ones peace of mind by taking care of a few simple steps now to prepare for the future. LakeRidge Chapel partners with Funeral Directors Life Insurance Company (FDLIC) to provide rock-solid prepaid funeral contract options to our families. FDLIC is committed to protecting our families’ investments as if they were our own mothers' or grandmothers' money. With an A- (Excellent) rating from A.M. Best Company, FDLIC has proven to be one of the most financially stable funeral insurance companies in the industry. Call or come by LakeRidge Chapel to pick up your free funeral planning guide, even if you don’t think you can afford to pay in advance. A written plan is better than no plan at the time of death, and your family will be grateful that you can in some way be there for them when they need you the most. 

Veteran's Burial Benefits

What You Need to Know About Veterans’ Burial Benefits

There seems to be a lot of confusion about what burial benefits veterans and their families can actually expect to receive at the time of death. Some assume that the entire funeral for a veteran is paid for by the VA; others assume that all cemetery costs are covered. In fact, neither assumption is correct.  

As funeral service providers, the staff at LakeRidge Chapel and Memorial Designers runs across a lot of misconceptions about what kind of burial benefits veterans receive, and what they don’t receive. There are also a lot of misconceptions about what the spouse and dependents receive.

LakeRidge would like to bring some clarity to this issue. While the government does offer some nice benefits that are helpful to families at the time of death, it does not cover all funeral costs by a long shot.

So, here’s what you need to know about veterans’ burial benefits:

1. Discharge papers are important. The number one thing you need to know about veterans’ benefits is that your family won’t receive any benefits whatsoever if they cannot locate your discharge papers.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs urges veterans to advise their families of their burial wishes and where to find their discharge papers. The VA states on their website: “These papers are very important in establishing your eligibility. You may wish to make pre-need arrangements with a funeral home.” That is because a funeral plan will help you get organized and put all your important documents in one place so that your family can actually claim the benefits that they are entitled to.

2. Burial allowance depends on how the veteran died. As it should be, the largest burial benefit is given to members of the military who die as a result of service to their country. A burial allowance of “up to” $2,000 is given for a service-related death on or after September 11, 2001. Some or all of transportation costs “may be” reimbursed if the veteran is buried in a VA national cemetery.

As you can probably guess, there are certain qualifications that must be met in order to receive this benefit. The VA’s website states that the VA is not responsible for making funeral arrangements or performing cremations. These arrangements should be made with a funeral or cremation provider. Furthermore, any items or services purchased from a funeral home of cremation facility are at the family’s expense. The average funeral runs over $6,000 or $7,000 depending on the merchandise and services selected. So, even if the entire $2,000 sum is given to the family as a burial allowance, the cost of the entire funeral will not be covered by the VA, even when the deceased has died in action.


For most veterans, the death will be nonservice-related. In this case the VA will still offer a benefit to certain qualifying individuals: “up to” $300 will go toward burial and funeral expenses and $300 toward plot-internment. If the veteran happened to be in a VA hospital or at a VA nursing home at the time of death, a portion or all of the transportation costs could be reimbursed. Of course, certain specific requirements must be met in order to receive this benefit. It is not automatically given to every veteran.

3. Burial benefits depend on where the veteran will be buried. An honorably discharged veteran is eligible to be buried in one of 131 national cemeteries (as space allows) at no cost to the family. A headstone or marker is also provided by the government, as well as a U.S. flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, and military honors. Spouses and dependents may also be buried in a national cemetery along with the veteran or even before if they predecease the veteran.

If a private cemetery is used, burial benefits remain the same, other than the burial space: the headstone or marker, a U.S. flag, a Presidential Memorial Certificate, and military honors are provided at no cost to the family. The burial space in a private cemetery is at the family’s expense. Certain costs may also apply to setting the headstone or marker in place. No benefits are available to spouses or dependents buried in a private cemetery.

Please note that eligibility for benefits must be established on an individual basis and certain requirements or qualifications may apply.
A lot of veterans and their families don’t realize that they will be responsible for funeral costs not covered. That includes the casket or urn, services of the funeral director, embalming, cremation, flowers, obituaries, police escort, and more. The VA makes it clear that these and other costs associated with the funeral home and/or crematory are not covered by the government.
While veterans’ benefits can be a complicated issue especially during a time of grief, the staff at LakeRidge Chapel is always available to answer questions or help families make pre-arranged funeral plans. In fact, any community member may come into the funeral home to receive a free planning guide that helps organize all personal information. The staff will help fill out the planning guide at the funeral home or in the comfort of your own home. Please let LakeRidge know if they can be of service to you.  

From F.D.L.I.C 

Preneed Insurance

Preneed Insurance: Reassurance, Security, Peace of Mind

There are a number of possible methods for funding final expenses, but a preneed insurance policy is one of the safest, most secure and most versatile options for funeral prearrangement. Often the benefits of prearranging and pre-funding funeral expenses with insurance are not mentioned by consumer advocacy groups.

We at LakeRidge Chapel and Memorial Designers work with Funeral Directors Life Insurance Company (FDLIC), rated A- (Excellent) by A.M. Best, which indicates a high degree of confidence in FDLIC’s financial stability for today and the future.  Our relationship with FDLIC allows families who preplan with us to rest assured that their arrangements will be taken care of just as planned.

There are basically three possibilities for funding your prearrangement: a separate personal account with a designated beneficiary, a trust set up by the funeral home, and finally, a preneed insurance policy. Preneed insurance, above all other methods of prearrangement, provides more benefits and layers of protection that allow you to say with confidence, “It’s all been taken care of.”

Firstly, all payments are made directly to the insurance company and are not processed by the funeral home, as with trust payments. This protects you and your family from the possibility of your funds being mishandled. Furthermore, insurance companies are tightly regulated and audited frequently for consumer safety. This is simply added protection for your preneed policy.

The insurance policy premiums are invested in stable, low risk investments that protect your policy’s growth from the ups and downs of the financial market. The investment strategy at FDLIC produces growth on the policy that far exceeds the return on local savings accounts, protecting you from inflation.

For your convenience, by contract, your preneed insurance policy is transferable to any funeral home you desire, so it is just as portable as a personal account or trust, and a much safer and more secure option.

For the safety of your preneed funds, the policy’s proceeds are paid to the funeral home or your designated beneficiary only when acceptable proof of death is provided. This is added protection for your family because the funds are not entrusted to the funeral home until it is time for services to be performed.

And finally, your preneed insurance policy is irrevocably assigned for final expenses, which means that your funds can only be used for the specific purpose you intended. Bank accounts, CDs or investment accounts may seem at first glance to be practical options, however, any type of personal account is subject to certain risks like tragedies and emergencies. There is always the temptation to dip into the fund for an emergency, with the intention of paying it back, and later not being able to. These funds are also at risk for being allocated to other unforeseen circumstances. Placed in a preneed insurance policy, your funds are protected from unscrupulous funeral homes or family members, civil judgments, bankruptcy, divorce, health emergencies, or long-term care expenses.

Irrevocable assignment also allows the policy funds to be exempt from your total assets, which makes it easier to qualify for Medicaid. Though qualifying for Medicaid may not be a prime concern for you today, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 9 million people over 65 will require some kind of long-term care, which only about one third can afford without Medicaid. Knowing that your preneed insurance policy is considered an exempt asset for Medicaid purposes is an important consideration when prearranging a funeral.

The most important thing to us at LakeRidge is to provide you with accurate and timely information that will assist you to plan ahead for one of your family’s most difficult days: the loss of a dearly loved one. We know this is important to you as well. When you plan ahead, you have all the reassurance that everything is taken care of; all the security of knowing that your financial matters are well in hand; all the peace of mind knowing your family will be spared the pain, doubt, and financial strain that a planning a funeral service during a time of grief can bring.