Changing Your Pre-paid Funeral Plan

save on pre-paid funeral

If you have already entered into a pre-need or pre-paid funeral contract, there is a good chance you can switch that contract to a different funeral home of your choice, but you need to carefully review the applicable terms.

  • Is it flexible?
  • Can you change the products and services?
  • Can it be transferred to another funeral director?
  • To what extent is the price guaranteed?
  • What happens to left over money from my pre-paid funeral plan?
  • Can the contract be cancelled?

Whether you have prepaid or not, the terms of your contract will govern whether you can make changes. Prefunding with a funeral trust or through funeral insurance generally offers greater flexibility to make changes than if you make payments directly to your provider.

If your funeral policy is transferrable and you find a funeral home that will offer what you want at a lower price, there are a number of benefits. For example, if you currently have a $10,000 funeral policy but find a funeral home that offers what you want at $6,000, that $4,000 of savings can either be used to cover unexpected expenses your family might have at the time of passing or be retuned to your family.

Funeral homes in Texas are not required to return excess pre-need funds to families after the service is completed, but one unique policy of Lighthouse Funeral and Cremation Services is that any left over money in your pre-paid funeral plan is returned to the family. Lighthouse believes the money in that policy is yours so they make sure your family gets to keep it. Ultimately, many more options open up to you when you switch your policy to a less expensive funeral home.

Lighthouse offers fully customized burial packages as low $4,200 and cremations as low as $900. If you would like to determine if your pre-paid funeral policy is transferrable, if you’re eligible for money back, or if other options are available to you, you can speak with a Lighthouse funeral director by calling 1-833-228-8008 or emailing info@lighthousefunerals.com to learn more.

Top 10 Amarillo Funeral Homes

Amarillo Funeral Homes

With nearly two dozen funeral and cremation options in the Amarillo area, it takes a considerable amount of work to determine which is the right choice. We’ve outlined the 10 most visited Amarillo funeral homes to give a curated resource breaking down the specialties, customer reviews and contact information to help in the search to find the perfect match of services and price. The top 10 Amarillo funeral homes are listed below, first by locally owned and then by corporate owned, both in alphabetical order.

Locally Owned Amarillo Funeral Homes

Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors

Boxwell Brothers is a locally owned funeral home run by the Boxwell family since 1926 who are proud to serve the Amarillo, Claude, Dumas, Panhandle, Stratford and Vega areas. The company offers basic funeral packages, cremation services and additional services such as organ donation, special care for autopsies, etc. They specialize in “simple funerals at simple prices.”

Online reviews: 4.1 stars on Facebook and 3.9 stars on Google.

Website

Phone: (806) 355-8156

 

Lighthouse Funeral and Cremation Services

Locally owned and founded by the Carver family and Zach Sustaita, Lighthouse is honored to serve the Amarillo and surrounding areas. They offer full traditional and contemporary burial, cremation and veteran services. They specialize in using technology to provide ultra-custom funeral services at the lowest prices.

Online reviews: 5 stars on Facebook.

Website

Phone: (806) 553-0538

 

Rector Funeral Home

Locally owned and operated by Lynn Rector, they take pride in providing the best possible service to the families that entrust them with the care for their loved ones. Rector provides full service funerals.

Online reviews: 4.6 stars on Facebook and 5 stars on Google.

Website

Phone: (806) 374-1500

Corporate Owned Amarillo Funeral Homes

Angel Funeral Home

Owned by Carriage Services Inc. out of Houston, TX, Angel offers a variety of funeral services, from traditional funerals to competitively priced cremations. They proudly serve Amarillo, TX and the surrounding communities. Angel is known for serving families of “all cultural backgrounds.”

Online reviews: 5 stars on Facebook and Google

Website

Phone: (806) 373-8585

 

Cox Funeral Home

Corporate owned since founder, Charlie Cox, sold the funeral home before his passing in 2017. They provide funeral service and care to families of the Amarillo-Canyon area with full service burial and cremation options. Cox is know for their focus on a “celebration of life.”

Online reviews: 4.1 stars on Facebook and 3.9 stars on Google.

Website

Phone: (806) 354-2585

 

Giggs-Schooler-Gordon Funeral Directors

Owned by Service Corporation International out of Houston, TX. Their funeral home is honored to offer funeral and cremation services in the Amarillo community and provide traditional and contemporary burial and cremation services. Griggs-Schooler-Gordon specializes in custom services.

Online reviews: 4 stars on Google.

Website

Phone: (806) 358-0441

 

LaGrone Blackburn-Shaw

Owned by Carriage Services Inc. out of Houston, TX. LaGrone-Blackburn-Shaw Funeral Directors offers a variety of funeral services, from traditional funerals to competitively priced cremations, serving Amarillo, TX and the surrounding communities. LaGrone Blackburn-Shaw run and operate the Memory Gardens Cemetery.

Online reviews: 4.7 stars on Facebook and 5 stars on Google.

Website

Phone: (806) 372-3233

 

Memorial Park Funeral Home & Cemetery

Owned by Service Corporation International out of Houston, TX, Memorial Park offers offers Amarillo area families full service funeral, cremation and burial options. They are known for having funeral and cemetery services at one facility.

Online reviews: No available reviews.

Website

Phone: (806) 374-3709

 

Schooler Funeral Home

Owned by Carriage Services Inc. out of Houston, TX, but is managed by Jim Schooler, the original founder. They offer a variety of funeral services, from traditional funerals to competitively priced cremations, serving Amarillo, Claude and the surrounding communities. They pride themselves in “no sales pressure.”

Online reviews: 4.7 stars on Facebook and 5 stars on Google.

Website

Phone: (806) 352-2727

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How much does a casket cost?

Caskets can vary in price from $895 or lower for a basic steel casket to upwards of $40,000 for a gold plated casket.  The type and quality of casket you want will be the biggest factor in price. However, how much a casket costs ultimately depends on the funeral home you’re visiting. One funeral home may charge $1,350 for a casket while the same one at a different funeral home will cost $2,500 so its important to know the factors that go into it so you can make the best decision.

Each funeral home has access to all the same caskets so you can typically find the same style of casket at every funeral home.  There there three key things to know that affect the casket price: materials, features and brands. 

Casket Materials

What the casket is made of determines the cost of a casket more than any other factor because some materials are more expensive to obtain than others. There are numerous material options but when discussing the ones that impact price, funeral homes typically reference these: cloth covered, 20 gauge steel, 18 gauge steel, softwood, hardwood, semi-precious metal and precious metal. The different materials are listed below in order of least to most expensive.

Cloth Covered or Veneer Casket Costs

The most inexpensive caskets are made of cheaper materials like particleboard or fiberboard and many are covered in a decorative cloth to increase its appeal, like the image above. A veneer casket describes a casket made of less expensive under structure and covered in a glossy veneer to give it a beautiful finish. There are also simple particleboard options.

20 Gauge Steel Casket Costs

Metal caskets are known for their durability and the “gauge” is in reference to the thickness of the steel. The lower the gauge the thicker the metal. The 20 gauge steel casket is probably the most commonly used (anything higher would be quite thin) casket material seen in funeral homes. 

18 Gauge Steel Casket Costs

An 18 gauge casket is second most common and costs more than the 20 gauge because more metal is used in the creation of the casket. Caskets typically come in either 18 or 20 gauge.

Softwood Casket Costs

Wood is another popular material for caskets because of its look and lighter weight than metal caskets. The cheaper of the wood options are called softwoods. These include woods like pine, poplar, cottonwood, tulip tree and willow.

Hardwood Casket Costs

 

Hardwood caskets are made of more expensive materials which is reflected in the price. Hardwood caskets are made of birch, cherry, mahogany, maple, oak and walnut.  

Semi-precious Metal Casket Costs

Some of the most expensive caskets you’ll see in a funeral home will be made of semi-precious metals such as stainless steel, copper, and bronze.

Precious Metal Casket Costs

 

Precious metals include materials like silver and gold. Yes, you can buy a gold plated casket. There are a number of funeral homes that sell precious metal caskets for more than $40,000. And yes, they have sold many. To real people.

Casket Features

There are a few features that can change the price of a casket as well. A sealer or gasketed casket means it has a rubber or silicone seal around the opening that when cranked down it has a tighter seal. The gasketed caskets cost more than the non-gasketed.  

Customization of a casket will cost extra. Some caskets have hidden drawers to put in memorabilia, letters and trinkets with your loved ones. Others have the ability to embroider the cloth on the interior of the casket or provide custom carvings on the casket. If the interior is a higher quality cloth like velvet, the price will be more than the common crape and cotton polyester interiors.  Families that require an oversized casket can expect to pay an additional price for the added customization and materials needed to manufacture it. There are vendors in some areas that can fully customize a casket as well which vary in price but result in some of the most expensive but most beautiful options. 

Casket Brands

Bigger brand name caskets tend to make casket costs more.  Batesville and Aurora are some of the higher end brands. They make a great caskets and have the brand authority to charge for it. Some funeral homes will have contracts with casket companies and only sell their brand. 

Other brands you might see are York, Matthews, and Wilbert who also produce quality caskets. There are also countless local companies that ship caskets in from China. Those caskets are usually priced lower because they don’t have the big brand names.

Is embalming required?

No, embalming is not required by law except under certain circumstances (for example, when shipping the body to another state). Under federal rules, a funeral home may not embalm a body (or charge for it) without authorization from the family.

Embalming disinfects the body and replaces certain fluids with chemicals. This helps preserve the body for a few days so that the deceased may be viewed before burial or cremation. If you select embalming, a funeral director will attend to it personally, professionally, and with care. The funeral director will advise you in this matter. Cosmetics, hair styling, dressing, and casketing are additional options as well.

What do I do if I die out of town?

What happens if I die outside of town? If you die in another country, another state, or another city that is a 100 miles or more away from your home, it is very inconvenient and costly to say the least. Most people do not expect to die while they are out of town and don’t think about what would need to take place if that did happen.  

The first thing you need to decide is what funeral home you would like to have handle your services. More than likely it will be a funeral home in the town of your permanent residence. Choosing this funeral home is important because they will be the ones coordinating all the transportation arrangements back to your town of residence.  

When someone dies in another state or country, the remains are subject to the laws of that state or country.  Most states will have to go through an approval process and issue a document that releases the body from the state.  This document is usually a death certificate or a burial transit permit.

Most remains are shipped in a wooden tray with a cardboard top called a combo unit. Shipping in this tray there is no need for a casket.  The other most common shipping method is when the remains are placed in a casket and then in an Air Tray.  Both trays are a container for shipping by plane.  The price of the plane ticket is usually on top of the shipping and receiving fees.

All funeral homes have a price for forwarding and a receiving of remains on their general price list (What is a general price list?). The family will be responsible for paying for the fees to transport the body from the shipping funeral home and the receiving funeral home. This price is usually around $1,500.00 to $2,000.00 for both but could differ by funeral home. This fee is typically charged if you die 100 miles away from your home or more.

How it works

If you die out of town a funeral home in that area will pick you up and charge a $1,500 to $2,000 as a forwarding fee to your local hometown funeral home. Your local funeral home will charge a $1,500 to $2,000 receiving fee. If you die 100 miles away from home, the least expensive it could possibly cost you is $3,000, but it will probably end up costing more.

If someone were to die in another country, the paperwork is much more extensive and the fees vary greatly depending on the country, but they are substantially higher.  Some who have died out of country have paid upwards of $25,000 to get their loved one home.

Because the fees are so high to transport someone back from out of town, if you are someone who travels several times a year for work or for pleasure, its recommended to look into insurance for out of town transportation.

Return Assured is an insurance product that will ship you back to the town of your residence for a one time payment of $280. This covers any death more than 100 miles away from your permanent residence. They will take care of everything and it won’t cost a penny more even if you die out of country. This or other insurance options are really a product you should consider if you travel at all.

For more information on this protection or out of town deaths feel free to give us a call.

Why do I need death certificates?

Before we dive into why you need death certificates, its important to clarify what it is. A death certificate is the official government document that the county or state of death produces to verify that someone has passed away and it is usually a public document.  

Death certificates are needed for a number of processes after someone passes. In order to close the deceased’s accounts, transfer custody of an account, make transactions or receive benefits from any account of the deceased, death certificates are typically required.  Examples of accounts you would need a death certificate for are insurance policies, bank accounts, loans, utilities, stock accounts, and others.

Death certificates are available to the next of kin at the county or state health department. The funeral home that is helping with arrangements can also provide the next of kin with copies of the death certificate.  Friends and extended family usually will not be able to get a death certificate from the county or state health department without a legal need.

Each county charges a fee for each copy of the death certificate.  It typically takes two or three days to prepare a death certificate because a doctor must sign the death certificate and document the cause of death.

What is guaranteed in a pre-paid funeral plan?

pre-paid funeral plans

The services guaranteed in a pre-paid funeral plan are those the funeral home writes into a pre-need insurance policy and will be paid for upon death for no additional charge.

A funeral home will sell pre-need insurance policies in order to organize and plan a funeral before the death occurs. In order to do this they write an insurance policy that will cover future expenses but give you today’s prices. For example, if you wanted a full service funeral with a silver casket and it costs $10,000 dollars in 2014 and a funeral home writes a pre-need insurance policy for that amount, when the death occurs in 2020 the funeral cost for the full service funeral with a silver casket could now be $15,000. You would not pay anymore money for that exact funeral. The funeral home is hoping that the insurance policy will gain enough interest that it grows to cover 2020’s increase in price.

The funeral home can only guarantee the services that they offer. They can not guarantee services of another business such as flower shop, monument shop (for headstones) or the price of Death Certificates. Sales Tax is also something that cannot be guaranteed. They can however write into the policy an allowance that can help pay for these types of items.

Many people will pre-pay for a few things like a burial plot and a casket and think they are done. But when the death occurs, their family often wants to have a service and a viewing and other merchandise like programs and a register book, etc. If these items are not written into the policy, they will not be guaranteed and additional charges may be added that might exceed the amount in the policy. So make sure you plan for every possibility because if there is money left over in a policy, the family of the deceased gets any money not used returned to them.