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.