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Event – Adding Transparency to the Funeral Industry

CelesteCare of Llano  is hosting a community wide event – Adding Transparency to the Funeral Industry – Providing the information you need to be a better informed consumer – on Thursday, October 12 at 6pm at 701 East Young Street in Llano.  Chris and Jessamyn Putnam have been invited to speak about the difference between prearranging vs. preneed; planning, ordering, and recording your personal affairs; documenting the memories of your loved one to share; and learning how Life Insurance impacts Medicaid.  This seminar is part of Putnam’s community service initiatives as we believe that a well-informed funeral home customer is an empowered funeral home customer.  All highland lakes residents are invited to attend (This includes, but is not limited to, residents of Marble Falls, Horseshoe Bay, Spicewood, Burnet, Bertram, Granite Shoals, Tow, Llano, Kingsland, Cottonwood Shores, Meadowlakes, Buchanan Dam, Highland Haven, Bluffton, Smithwick, etc.)

Event – Adding Transparency to the Funeral Industry

CelesteCare of Horseshoe Bay is hosting a community wide event – Adding Transparency to the Funeral Industry – Providing the information you need to be a better informed consumer – on Thursday, September 7 at 6pm at 26409 East Highway 71, Horseshoe Bay, Texas 78657.  Chris and Jessamyn Putnam have been invited to speak about the difference between prearranging vs. preneed; planning, ordering, and recording your personal affairs; documenting the memories of your loved one to share; and learning how Life Insurance impacts Medicaid.  This seminar is part of Putnam’s community service initiatives as we believe that a well-informed funeral home customer is an empowered funeral home customer.  All highland lakes residents are invited to attend (This includes, but is not limited to, residents of Marble Falls, Horseshoe Bay, Spicewood, Burnet, Bertram, Granite Shoals, Tow, Llano, Kingsland, Cottonwood Shores, Meadowlakes, Buchanan Dam, Highland Haven, Bluffton, Smithwick, etc.)

When It Really Isn’t Your First Choice: Selecting Cremation Because You Cannot Afford Burial

You walk into a funeral home and what do you find on the price list?  You find that cremation is priced at pennies while burial is in the thousands of dollars and up.  In fact, the gap in pricing continues to grow between cremation and burial as funeral homes use ever decreasing cremation prices as a loss leader to draw in customers and grow their brand recognition while at the same time raising burial rates to offset their financial losses.

Daniel Isard argues in the July 2017 issue of The American Funeral Director, “[funeral homes] should price cremation to cover overhead, just as we do for burial.  We should not tax our burial customers to pay for the discounts given to our cremation consumers.  You can’t tax the 49 percent to offer discounts to offer discounts to the 51 percent.”

While cremation customers might not mind that their cremation is being subsidized by burial customers, they would care if they realized that with upwards of 70% of families choosing cremation, that many funeral homes no longer have enough burial customers to subsidize their lower cremation rates and are having to find ways of cutting costs.  Some funeral home owners and staff work full-time jobs outside of the industry and only open the doors of their funeral home when they are called.  Others use cremation mills, leverage the emotional vulnerability of their client families to oversell products they do not really want or need, illegally solicit customers at or near death, or find other ways to make their lower cremation prices sustainable.

And burial customers, well they should care that they potentially subsidize the cost of someone else’s cremation.  Burial customers are seen as the funeral home’s “cash cow” and funeral directors often leverage the emotional vulnerability of their client to oversell them products to increase the burial cost and bring in more revenue to offset their cremation losses.

At Putnam, cremation is priced as Mr. Isard suggests – fairly and in a way that makes us sustainable in a world of ever increasing rates of cremation.  Our role as a funeral director and cremation advocate is our full-time job.  We own the only crematory in the Highland Lakes area and only cremate for Putnam client families.  At Cremation Advocates by Putnam in Marble Falls, Burnet county – our focus is on cremation and we are the area cremation experts.  Turning to Putnam Funeral Home and Crematory in Kingsland, Llano county, in addition to being the area cremation experts, we are also able to offer a burial package that includes services in the option price at a lower cost than any other area funeral home – simply because we do not underprice cremation.  No longer do you have to feel forced into cremation because of the price, you can choose it at either of our locations because you want it and you want our level of service. And no longer do you have to choose the minimum or “disposer” level to afford burial – with Putnam Funeral Home and Crematory, you will find that burial includes the Putnam service pledge and visitation and service options as an affordable choice.  There is only one opportunity to do this right, so whether you choose burial or cremation, do so for the right reasons and do it with Putnam.

Putting Your House in Order

Preparing for death is not something most of us want to do.   We know it is inevitable, but sometimes we hope that it won’t happen or we just choose not to think about it.  The thing is though, that if we do not put some sort of order to our affairs before we die, then we are forcing those we love to put order to possible chaos at one of their most vulnerable and emotional moments, potentially creating an unnecessary hardship or worsening the grief they feel.

Some things to consider:

  1. Make a will and select an executor who is trustworthy and will use sound judgement in making decisions.
  2. Create a record of personal affairs that lists contacts and relevant account information for your attorney, CPA, financial advisor, realtor, executor, banks, insurance, retirement, credit cards, debt, property owned, safe deposit box, automobile registration, etc.
  3. Sign and notarize a written authorization stating whether you want to be cremated or buried and with which Funeral Home (if already selected). On another page, provide information (if applicable) on cemetery plot, disposition of ashes, service or celebration of life requested (church, synagogue, funeral home, or other), and what music, readings, photos, videos, etc. you might want utilized.
  4. Provide biographical information such as education, religious affiliation, employment history, fraternal, service, social, and/or union membership, boards served on, positions held, special recognition, family information (next of kin, children, etc) and/or your veteran’s service record, as this information will be needed for the death certificate, veteran’s benefits, and/or an obituary.

Whether you feel overwhelmed or are ready to act – call or email us at Putnam Funeral Home and Crematory in Kingsland, TX (325-388-0008, staff@putnamcares.com) or Cremation Advocates by Putnam in Marble Falls (830-798-8413, staff@cremationadvocates.net) – to schedule an appointment to discuss how you can help your loved ones tomorrow by being proactive today.

Honoring our Deceased Veterans

We at Putnam have a proud history of serving military client families.

One of the ways that we honor our deceased honorably discharged veterans or those veterans who have died while on active duty, is by coordinating services with the Highland Lakes Honor Guard, a tax-exempt organization consisting of war veterans from every branch of the Armed Forces of the United States who have served their country honorably. The Highland Lakes Honor Guard is certified by the Department of Defense as Authorized Providers to render military funeral honors for deceased members who have been honorably discharged from military service or who have died while on active duty.

Whether burial or cremation, the Highland Lakes Honor Guard appears in full uniform at graveside, funeral home, church or private location. They provide a flag display consisting of the National, Texas and POW/MIA flags together with the service branch flag under which the deceased veteran has served. They provide a rifle squad to execute a full three-volley rifle salute, a bugler to sound TAPS, a flag folding ceremony wherein the symbolic meaning of each of the 13 folds is explained, insertion of spent casings from the three-volley rifle salute into the folded flag, and the presentation of the folded flag to the next of kin.

These services are offered free to surviving members of the decedent’s family within Burnet or Llano County, Texas. Although donations are appreciated,they are not asked for, expected or required for the services offered. What this organization does is an act of love for those who have honorably and faithfully served their country and have now gone to their eternal rest.

This is just one of the many ways in which Putnam helps you personalize a service or life celebration and make meaning out of loss.

 

 

Found A Cheap, “Local,” Online Cremation? It Might Be Too Good To Be True . . .

UPDATE from the Texas Funeral Service Commission:  “The Commission is alerting Texas consumers that Heritage Crematory Services advertises its services in Texas but it does not hold a license in the state. As such, the Commission has limited jurisdiction to help resolve complaints against the entity.  Prior to pay or agreeing to pay for funeral services, consumers are urged to check the Commission website to ensure the entity is licensed in Texas.”

ORIGINAL POST:

On June 29, 2017, the National Funeral Directors Association sent out an alert to funeral homes across the United States regarding Heritage Cremation Providers, “an online cremation business that has been the target of state enforcement actions in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon and Tennessee.”  This provider appears on the top of google searches for “local cremations” regardless of city, including cities in our local area such as Marble Falls, Horseshoe Bay, Burnet, Llano, Kingsland, Granite Shoals and Bertram.  As the only local crematory in the Highland Lakes area, Putnam DOES NOT make removals, or cremate for, this provider.  Therefore, this provider in NO WAY offers local cremations.

“On its website, this Provider, which also operates under the name of Legacy Funeral Service, portrays itself as a low-cost, family-owned, locally based cremation service. In actuality, it is a scandal-ridden middleman that collects payments from consumers for cremation services and then outsources all of the work to funeral homes and crematories that perform removals and carry out the cremation. Due to numerous misrepresentations on its website, its lack of licensing, and a track record of carelessness and incompetence, it has drawn the scrutiny of state enforcement agencies and the Federal Trade Commission.

These two companies were able to operate unchecked for several years because they were selling cremation services over the internet. As such, they did not have a physical base of operations which makes it difficult for state licensing authorities to pursue them. But, faced with a mountain of consumer complaints, state agencies have begun to issued fines and injunctions against them. In addition, apparently 30 complaints have been filed with the Federal Trade Commission, although it is not known if the FTC is actively investigating this company.

According to reports from the Better Business Bureau, which currently gives this provider a D- grade, Heritage Cremation Providers, Legacy Funeral Services, and its owners Joseph Damiano and Anthony Joseph Damiano have been ordered to cease and desist operations in Florida, Georgia and Colorado. Moreover, in North Carolina, the State Funeral Board has advised funeral homes in that state that if they perform services for this provider, that they will be charged with aiding and abetting an unlicensed provider of cremation.

Even in states where there is no current order against this provider, funeral homes and crematories should be aware of the numerous enforcement actions from around the country.”

The Race to the Bottom: Is Price the Only Consideration When Choosing a Funeral Home or Cremation Provider?

Knowledge, quality, service, personalization, legally compliant, going above and beyond, time spent with the family – these are the qualities that people take for granted that they will receive when choosing a funeral home or crematory.  However, there appears to be a race to the bottom in the funeral industry that is negatively impacting the ability of funeral homes and crematories or cremation providers to meet these expectations and many families are walking away from the burial or cremation of a loved one – disappointed.

With on-line options touting cheap cremations and some funeral homes BOLDLY UNDERLINING IN ITALICIZED CAPS THAT THEY WILL PRICE MATCH,  it is clear that the funeral industry incorrectly believes that the number one priority to someone shopping for a funeral home or crematory is price.   And by trying to be the cheapest, many in the funeral industry have initiated a race to the bottom by cutting corners.  Some families tell stories of illegal solicitation efforts, of being offered “Factory Second” urns, being rushed through their initial meeting, receiving the cremated remains of their loved one in the mail, or not being provided options for a service or help with insurance or the option to purchase death certificates, just to name a few.

The final disposition following a death is just that – final.  Families only have one opportunity to have it done right.  There are no do-overs.  So while consumers and funeral homes have been trained to buy and sell solely on price, the race to the bottom, to be the cheapest, has the potential to leave a family bereft and unhappy with how the final disposition of their loved one has been handled.

What can you do to ensure that your expectations are met?  When shopping for a funeral home, crematory, or cremation provider, look beyond the price.  Ask yourself, what am I giving up by going with the cheapest option?  Am I missing out on using a local business who hires locals and volunteers time and money to the community?  Am I missing out on knowledge, or quality, or service?  Am I using a funeral home that engages in shady or illegal practices or finds other ways to cut corners?  And if a funeral home is visibly cutting corners, how might they be cutting corners with my loved one when I am not in the room?  Am I missing out by using a funeral home or cremation provider that really cares and is going to take time with me and help me build a positive foundation for grief?  Am I using a middleman who is going to ship my loved one hours away to be cremated?

In other words, look beyond price and ask questions about what makes a funeral home or crematory or cremation provider different and ask questions about things that are important to you.

You can no longer expect a certain level of service when contracting a funeral or cremation – the race to the bottom, to be the cheapest, has created an environment in which funeral homes and cremation providers are doing whatever they can to cut costs, doing whatever they can to provide a consumer with the cheapest funeral or cremation out there, when maybe what the consumer really wants is for their loved one’s funeral or cremation done well and done right.

Changing the Face of Funeral Homes in Burnet

Cremation Advocates by Putnam is introducing an exciting new concept to Burnet, Horseshoe Bay, Marble Falls and the surrounding areas – an event approach to cremations instead of a traditional funeral home experience.  Not only do we have the only crematory in the Highland Lakes Area, but we have the only licensed funeral establishment in Burnet and Llano counties and beyond that eschews the traditional funeral home setting for a contemporary office setting especially designed to host intimate life celebrations, receptions, gatherings, and functions with the technological capability to include remote friends and families.  Our cremation advocates are ready to help you navigate the cremation process and make meaning out of an emotional time.