How does Neptune Society compare with PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL™?
First, Neptune Society is a for-profit corporation, owned by SCI, the largest funeral corporation in the world. PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL™ Association (PMA) is non-profit. Secondly, Neptune Society charges more than twice as much as PMA for the same type of cremation services. Thirdly, Neptune Society wants your money up front and will pressure to purchase additional services. PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL promises no sales pressure and gives you the option of whether you want to pay now or later.
Why should I choose PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL?
PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL has been the leader in offering simple, dignified cremation and burial arrangements for over 70 years. Our contracted funeral providers are selected for their quality of service and business integrity. With PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL you will receive no sales pressure at any point in the process and there are no surprises in our pricing. Whatever plan you choose includes the items necessary for that type of service–so we do not offer a cremation plan that does not include the requisite containers or a burial plan that does not include a casket. Unlike some funeral homes, we do not charge you extra if you die at home or outside of business hours. As a nonprofit organzation, our purpose is to provide simple, quality, supportive services to our members, so that their funeral arrangements are consistent with their values and within their family’s budget. That’s the PMAdvantage.
What is the difference between PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL™ Association, and Funeral Cooperative and Education Fund?
PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL™ Association is a 501(c)(4) non-profit membership organization which was founded in 1939 to provide consumer education and advocacy. The Association also contracts with funeral homes to provide low-cost cremation and burial to its members.
PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL™ Funeral Cooperative was created in June 2007 and is a licensed funeral home on Capitol Hill in Seattle. The Funeral Cooperative is incorporated as a cooperative and is owned by the members of the Association. Can non-members use People’s Memorial™ Funeral Co-op?
PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL™ Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was formed in 2006 to fund funeral consumer education programs. Contributions to this fund are tax-deductible.
Do I need to register at a funeral home?
No. And you don’t need a reservation! At the time of death, your member benefits are good at any of our Select contracted funeral homes. It is not necessary to contact them ahead of time.
How will the funeral home know I am a member of PMA?
Your next–of-kin should present your PMA membership card and funeral planning paperwork when they make your final arrangements. If not, the should tell the funeral home that the individual was a PMA member and the funeral home can verify the membership.
Who do I call at time of death?
At the time of death, contact the PMA contracted funeral home of your choice should be notified. The funeral home will come and pick up the body. If you are unsure which funeral home to use call our toll free Time of Death line at 1-888-762-2762 and the menu will walk you through all of the options by geography.
How do I know which funeral home to call?
If you are unsure of our current contracted funeral homes, it is always posted on our website. Any changes are also announced in our spring newsletter each year—you may wish to keep a copy of the most recent one with your funeral paperwork. You may also call our office for information about current PMA contracted funeral homes. After hours, this information is also available on the phone menu.
So what paperwork should I fill out?
A Disposition Authorization is a legal document that, if properly signed and witnessed, it provides legal authorization for your cremation or burial. This is particularly important if you have multiple family members, anticipate difference of opinion whether to bury or cremation or have no next of kin. If this form is not completed and signed prior to death, authorization for cremation must be obtained from next-of-kin.
A Putting My House in Order form is another important document. The first section allows you to specify details for your final arrangements. The second section includes important information that will be needed to complete the death certificate.
A third form called a Designated Agent form is like a power of attorney for funeral arrangements. Normally a power of attorney ends when you breathe your last breath. This allows you to designate a specific person to oversee and authorize your funeral arrangements for you. This form is important if you want one specific person to make sure that your final arrangements are carried out according to your wishes or want to put a non-family member in charge.
Completing these forms and discussing them with your next of kin will help assure that your wishes are honored. In addition, your family will be spared a great deal of unnecessary stress.
What do I do with my funeral pre-planning documents?
Make a copy for your loved ones–whomever will be making your arrangements at time of death. Have a discussion with them about your wishes. Keep the original documents with your important papers at home–make sure your survivors know where they are located. They will need to take these documents to the funeral home at time of death when they make your arrangements. If you wish to have PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL Association hold this paperwork for you, we will electronically scan and hold it for access by the funeral home of your choice at time of death.
Are the prices the same at all PMA contracted funeral homes?
All 24 PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL Select contracted funeral homes charge the same member prices for our six plans, ranging from $699 for simple cremation to $2,799 for a complete funeral services with metal casket. Current prices are always posted on our website.
Do all PMA funeral homes do cremation?
Yes, all PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL funeral homes offer our members the full range of plans from simple cremation to a full funeral service with viewing.
Can I send PMA a check to pay for my plan?
No, PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL Association does not accept prepayment in that way. We encourage pre-planning, but advise that you educate yourself regarding the risks, benefits and options of pre-payment before you put any money down. In recent years there has been a great deal of hype about the need to pre-pay. If you feel that prepayment is the best choice for you, then People’s Memorial Funeral Cooperative and several of our contracted funeral homes, do offer life insurance as a means of funding your final arrangement.
How do I pre-pay for my funeral so it’s all taken care of?
“All taken care of” is not always so simple and tidy as some would like us to believe. Whether or not to prepay is a personal decision, but because of the low PMA prices it probably isn’t necessary for most of our members. If you’re thinking of prepayment your final arrangements, we encourage you to read our brochure, the Benefits & Risks of Prepayment to help you decide whether it is right for you. PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL Funeral Cooperative and many of our contracted funeral homes offers life insurance as a means of funding your final arrangements. Opening a special bank account called a pay-on-death account can be a very simple option that gives you full control over the funds during your lifetime.
If I pre-paid with another funeral home, do I have to use them?
NO! It is the funeral home that provides the actual funeral services is the one able to collect from any prepaid funds. Be sure your survivors are aware of any prearrangements you have made and they have access to the appropriate documents, including proof of prepayment.
If the cemetery where I plan to be buried also has a funeral home, do I have to use their mortuary?
NO! Any funeral home can handle the burial arrangements at any cemetery. It may be convenient to use the onsite funeral home and simply proceed to their cemetery, but you will typically pay a hefty premium for this convenience.
What if my loved one was taken to the wrong funeral home by mistake, can I still have a PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL contracted funeral home handle the arrangements?
Yes. Notify contracted funeral homes you choose and have them pick up your loved one. There will be charge from the first funeral home for the transportation from place of death. You will probably need to pay this amount before they will release the body. The costs vary, but may be as much as $5-600. In many cases even after paying this charge, your overall cost will still be lower by using one of our contracted funeral homes.
My address or name has changed, how can I let you know?
Please call the office or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with your membership number and the changes and we will update our database. Please include information for spouse, partner or other family members as well. With 80,000 members in our database, we really appreciate your assistance in keeping our records up-to-date.
Why aren’t I receiving mail from People’s Memorial?
Each Spring, we send one copy of the newsletter to each household where members reside. If you have not been receiving it, we probably don’t have your current address. We lose contact with many of our members when they move into a retirement community or nursing home. Please help us keep our database up to date.
Can I sign up family members or friends?
Definitely. You can also give gift memberships to loved ones. If they do not want to receive mail from PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL, or you feel they will not want to discuss these end-of-life issues, you can provide us with your mailing address instead.
What is NOT included in the PMA prices?
- Sales tax.
- Medical Examiner Taxes. In King Country it is $50 per death.
- Certified copies of the death certificate. The funeral home will file the original death certificate and assist you with ordering copies.
- Newspaper obituaries. The funeral home will assist you in placing the notice, but a fee is usually due to the chosen newspaper.
- Transportation charges beyond 30 miles from our contracting funeral homes. Add $2.50 per mile one way when 1 staff person is required, $3.75 per mile for 2 staff people. Also add ferry fares and/or bridge tolls, if applicable.
- Transportation requiring a ferry $60 per hour for 1 staff person and $90 per hour for 2 staff people.
- Honorarium for clergy or musicians.
- Memorial cards, guest book or other merchandise.
Are PMA prices guaranteed?
The PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL™ contract usually runs for a period of two years and prices are fixed during that time period. When the contract is renegotiated, prices may change. While it is reasonable for our contracted funeral homes to ask for modest price increases to keep up with inflation, the funeral industry, particularly the cremation market is extremely competitive. Historically, PEOPLE’S MEMORIAL prices have gone up at less than the rate of inflation.
Is my membership valid in other parts of the United States?
Yes, but prices and the availability of services will vary depending on where you are. A list of all local membership groups affiliated with the national Funeral Consumers Alliance is available on the FCA website. Share this info with your next-of-kin. Not every affiliate secures reduced mortuary prices for their members. Some affiliates simply provide consumer education and advocacy, however they mey be able to provide you with recommendations. Many of the FCA affiliates are volunteer run and may not have regular business hours.
Can I transfer my membership if I move?
If you move outside of Washington State or Northern Idaho you can transfer your membership to another affiliate at little or no cost. Notify us of your new address and ask for a transfer letter.
Why do you ask for my Social Security number?
For security reasons, we only keep the last 4 digits of your social security number in our database. However, with more than 80,000 members, there are many people with the same or similar names. Also, some people change their names over their lifetime and we are not always notified. The Social Security number provides a way to ensure we update the correct records and quickly get the information you or your family need. Also, the Social Security number allows us to remove deceased persons from our database by comparing our files to social security records. If you prefer that we not use your Social Security number as identification, that is fine. Please supply us with your date of birth instead. We do not share our database with any outside group, other than the contracting funeral homes which need to be able to identify whether someone is a member. Our contract limits their use of your personal information.
What is the General Price List?
The Federal Trade Commission enforces a funeral price disclosure law called The Funeral Rule. The Funeral Rule requires that every funeral home make available to the public a General Price List (GPL) with their prices for common services. They must provide this list to you if you ask for it when on the premesis. They are not required to send it in the mail, however. Many Funeral Home now post their GPL on their website. Unfortunately, these price lists can be very long and confusing, which often makes comparisons difficult. If you know the exact type of services you desire, a funeral home required to give you a detailed price quote over the phone. To help consumers easily compare prices, People’s Memorial™ Association produces a price survey every two years to help the consumer compare general prices between funeral homes. Check out the results of our most recent price survey conducted by the Education Fund of funeral homes in Washington State.