Planning Ahead

Lots of folks ask us how to plan ahead for burial. Although it seems daunting, it’s basically a matter of

  1. buying a site, for which you receive a deed
  2. finding a funeral director who respects your wishes (and many will)
  3. making sure your family, friends, and caregivers know what you want. Don’t put your deed in a security box and don’t put your burial plans in your will—people often don’t look at those documents until the funeral is over.

At Greensprings, sites currently cost $1,000. Right now, opening and closing the grave costs $700—but we can’t guarantee that price over time, since we have no control over what our costs might be in the future. This means that while you can prepay for a site, you can’t for other costs.

Purchasing your gravesite ahead of time eliminates one more detail that your grieving survivors have to deal with. It can also make economic sense. It’s likely to save you money, too, since at times we’ll need (infrequently, we hope) to raise our prices.

If you live nearby, you can stop by Greensprings anytime to hike, picnic, or go cross-country skiing; a caretaker lives on-site. Or you may arrange for one of our trustees to meet you at the cemetery. If you’d like, we can assign you a site—which you may trade for a different one when you’re able to visit.

If you’re young and healthy and don’t anticipate dying anytime soon, just do 1 and 3. Ask us to mail you our brochure; it includes a sales slip. Be sure to show your family the deed and where you keep it, and provide each of them with a simple note that says what kind of burial you want, and where. You might want to attach copies of it to your living will, if you have one. Keep the deed with the title to your car, your birth certificate, or the deed to your house, and tell folks where these are. If you move, let people know where your legal documents now are.

As you get older, you’ll want to get in touch with a funeral director. By New York law, we may not handle these arrangements. Costs for funerals vary depending on where you live. NYS law prohibits us being involved in funerals. We’ve listed most funeral directors in our area on our website, along with funeral directors we’ve worked with from outside our area or in other states. Talk with several funeral directors; see how they respond. Wherever you live, you may wish to get in touch with a local or regional funeral consumers alliance, since these alliances often have relationships with funeral directors. You can find the alliance nearest you by getting in touch with the Funeral Consumers Alliance at www.funerals.org.

Embalming is rarely needed or required. And though we don’t accept embalmed bodies, we make exceptions for those embalmed per legal requirements, say for out-of-state transport.* We’ve had several out-of-state burials and so far, none has required embalming.

When bodies need to cross state lines, they’re most often sent by air. It’s actually fairly routine. It’s usually less expensive to work with a funeral home in our area. They’ll call a shipping service in your area to pick up the body—way cheaper than having a funeral home deliver it to the airport. Though embalming is sometimes mandated by an airline’s own rules, most states don’t mandate that bodies be embalmed for transport by common carrier over state lines. Lots of dry ice, or even ice packs, works fine in keeping bodies cool enough. New Jersey and Alaska require embalming for transporting out of state if the body won’t arrive at its final destination within 24 hours. (A New Jersey funeral director tells us that dry ice is an acceptable substitute.) Kansas, Idaho, and Minnesota require embalming if a body is moved by common carrier. And Alabama requires embalming for any out-of-state transport by any means. The local funeral director would meet the plane (probably in Rochester, NY) to receive the body. Lisa Carlson’s Caring for Your Own Dead describes the laws for each state.

Funeral directors offer a valuable service. But say your family wants to handle this themselves, and they are confident that they can do it safely and properly. New York law mandates that funeral directors transport those who die in New York—but if you live in a nearby state where families may transport a body, they may, if they meet New York’s sanitary code, obtain a burial transport permit, and bring a loved one to Greensprings themselves. They must, however, arrange for a New York funeral director to meet them on arrival at Greensprings. Read Lisa Carlson’s Caring for Your Own Dead for more information.

What about pre-paying for a funeral? New York is one of two states (New Jersey is the other) that requires funeral homes to deposit 100 percent of your money in trust. You have the right to a full refund, with interest, on a revocable plan. (Consider carefully before agreeing to an irrevocable plan.)

If you live outside of New York or New Jersey, here’s what the Funeral Consumer Alliance advises:

“Planning ahead is a great idea, but paying ahead usually is not. There are ways to put aside your money safely while keeping under your (not the funeral director’s) control. The only time it may be good idea to prepay for a funeral is when you are facing what’s called a Medicaid spend-down. While Medicaid will make you spend most of your own assets before they pay for your long-term care, they will allow you to set aside your funeral expenses in a prepaid plan.”

*Note that we also accept bodies embalmed by accident or against the deceased’s wishes.

Arranging a Visit to Greensprings

Call Greensprings at 607-564-7577. We will make every effort to accommodate your schedule