Q: May I apply for membership on behalf of someone else?
A: Yes. Just fill out the application with that person listed as the member.
Q: Does the Memorial Society of Georgia provide financial assistance to help with cremation or burial?
A: No, we have a minimal budget with no funding source to assist with private party payments.
Q: If I can’t afford even a simple cremation, what are my options?
A: Each county is obligated to bury or cremate any person who dies in the county if the deceased, his/her family, and immediate kin are indigent and unable to pay for decent internment. The county’s governing authority determines what amount is needed for a decent internment and may provide or reimburse the amount. To obtain assistance with an indigent or pauper’s burial or cremation, contact the Department of Human Services Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) for the county where the deceased resided and to be directed to the Indigent Burial Department. DFCS staff will begin an investigation to verify eligibility for the county-funded final disposition. (Items such as insurance status, property ownership, bank accounts, and other assets may be considered in the eligibility analysis.) If the deceased qualifies, the DFCS official will discuss the options available. The deceased may be buried or cremated. There is no funeral service but there may be a graveside service. Burials take place on limited specified dates, by the office’s designated funeral home. For more information, see https://aging.georgia.gov/document/document/guide-funeral-homes-crematories-and-cemeteries/download.
Alternatively, whole body donation to a medical school is usually at no cost or low cost, and the cremated remains are returned after study is complete. Google “body donation” to find programs and their eligibility requirements. Tissue banks will often accept a donated body even if a medical school rejects it. Go to FinalRights.org for details.
Q: If I am planning to donate my body, should I still join the Memorial Society of Georgia?
A: As long as the medical program you have selected does accept your body, there would be no benefit to being a MSOG member. However, there is no assurance that a medical school will accept a body upon death, as there are several “suitability” criteria that must be met (related to manner of death, condition of body, etc.). So most body donation programs recommend that you have alternate plans for disposition of your body in the event it is not accepted by the medical school. Joining the MSOG allows you to get your info on file with one of our Cooperating Funeral Directors so that they can provide the services at the Memorial Society guaranteed rate in case it does end up being needed. Your only financial commitment would be the $35 MSOG membership fee.
Q: Should I pre-pay my final expenses?
A: The MSOG recommends that you do NOT pre-pay for your funeral or cremation. There are a number of reasons that you could end up not using the services of that particular funeral director. For example, you could move outside of the area, die while on vacation in another state, or change your mind about body donation. Or the funeral director could go out of business or withdraw from the MSOG network. Or the funeral home could even be temporarily closed (recovering from a fire or flood, for instance) and thus unable to handle your arrangements. If your funds are being held by an uninvolved third party, it would likely be very difficult or even impossible for your next of kin to be able to access the funds needed for your final disposition. Finally, it could be difficult for your family members or other executor, after your death, to know (and to prove) that you had made a pre-payment. If you are concerned with ensuring that your final expenses will be covered, we suggest that, rather than pre-paying the Funeral Home, you instead open a bank account specifically funded for that purpose, perhaps as a joint account with your next of kin. Interest earned on the account would hedge against the small possibility of a future increase in final costs.
Q: If I do choose to pre-pay, how do I do it?
A: Any such arrangements would be directly with your selected funeral director, not through the MSOG. But do be sure to keep good documentation of your pre-payment, including cancelled check and receipt from the funeral director that is explicit about what it covers, and have the documentation somewhere that it will be easily found upon your death.
Q: Does the Memorial Society plan include the cost of actual physical burial?
A: No. The “burial” plans that are offered through our Cooperating Funeral Directors include only the services performed by the Funeral Director that are associated with preparing the body for burial (dressing, casketing, transporting, filing the Death Certificate). Any charges by the cemetery (plot, opening and closing the grave, headstone or marker) would be paid separately.
Q: Can you give me an estimate of burial costs if I choose upgrades or changes outside of the basic Memorial Society plan?
A: The cost of upgrades or changes to the Memorial Society plan would be at the regular published rate of the selected Funeral Director and should be discussed directly with them.
Q: Are the Memorial Society plan costs locked in when I join? So will I pay the current price for a Direct Cremation even if I live for another twenty years?
A: Probably not. The MSOG plan costs usually get updated every few years, to keep in line with inflation and general market conditions. While our goal is always to keep prices as low as feasible, we don’t expect our Cooperating Funeral Directors to lose money on servicing our members. So we keep an eye on industry trends and market pricing and then update our contracted plan pricing when/as needed, aiming to stay as low as practical but still be reasonable. The contract price that is in effect at time of a member’s death is what will be charged by the Cooperating Funeral Director.
Q: Do I have to select a Cooperating Funeral Director (CFD) to join the Memorial Society?
A: The membership process does require you to select a CFD at time of joining since all services are performed by the CFD. Without being enrolled with a particular CFD, you may not be able to fully take advantage of your membership benefits.
Q: Can I change my selected CFD in the future?
A: Yes, you or your survivor may change CFDs at any time. Just email email@example.com to request the form.
Q: How close do I need to live to my selected CFD?
A: There is no particular distance requirement, but be aware that transportation from place of death to funeral home and from funeral home to cemetery is included only within a 30-mile service area. Distances greater than 30 miles may incur a $3/mile upcharge. Two of the Funeral Directors in our network, Georgia Funeral Care & Cremation and Georgia Cremation Centers, both in Acworth, will serve a large area — basically all of northwest Georgia, down to Macon — and still be able to meet or beat the Memorial Society maximum price. Check with other CFDs to see if their price, including travel, covers your needs.
Q: If I move out of state, can I transfer my membership?
A: Probably. Each affiliate of the FCA (see directory by clicking HERE) will have its own paperwork and procedure, but it is likely you will be able to transfer your membership for a simple transfer fee. For perspective, the Memorial Society of Georgia accepts transfers from affiliates in other states for a $10 transfer fee.
Q: Why are some of the Funeral Directors considered “Preferred Providers”?
A: Prior to April 2016, all of the CFDs in the Memorial Society’s network operated under the terms of our “original” contract, which had been in effect for many years. In 2016 the Board of Directors felt that it was time to update our contract to better serve our members by introducing new plan options, reflecting downward trends in current market pricing, adding protective language to clearly specify how our members should be treated, and introducing new reporting requirements to help us ensure compliance. A new contract was developed to accomplish these ends, and the CFDs in our network were invited to give input in the contract provisions and language. Upon its completion, the CFDs were asked to sign this new contract to convert to its expanded provisions and lower member pricing. The new contract went into effect April 1, 2016. To date, seven of the CFDs have converted to the new plan; these seven are our “Preferred Providers”. The remaining CFDs in our network are still operating under the terms of the original contract, which does not have a termination date, so they will continue to service our members under those terms. New CFDs who may be added to our network will come in under the terms of the new contract.
Q: May I apply for membership on behalf of someone else?