Frequent Questions - Planning & General
Philosophy and Process
That depends on what you’re looking for! We’ve always said that we aren’t the perfect funeral home for everyone, just most people. We provide simple, sensible services at reasonable prices. We are family owned, local and environmentally responsible, taking our stewardship of our little slice of the planet very seriously.
We opened Elemental on the premise that pricing should be affordable and accessible to everyone in our community. To strive towards our vision of, “Changing the way our society engages with death,” we had to make everything about our business approachable so that we can share our vision. Unreasonably high pricing doesn’t help us achieve our goal.
We can keep our prices low due to our lower overhead costs. We have small arrangement offices located in shared office space. That means no landscaping costs, no property upkeep, and no additional property taxes.
We also don’t own the cremation chambers. Instead, we partnered with a family-owned crematory. They own the cremation chambers and we own the funeral home, so we can both perform services at significantly lower prices. If the idea of a family-owned crematory gives you pause, we are happy to put your mind at ease. Let us schedule a time for you to come see the facilities we use for cremation and meet their staff. The facilities don’t have a lot of frills, but run some of the strictest cremation protocols in the country. We trust our cremation center and invite you to schedule a visit to learn more about them as well.
Death certificates are used to close accounts and tie up an estate. Most families think they need way more death certificates than they do, and a few families wonder why they would need one at all.
Our suggestion is that you start with two or three.
Bank accounts and investment firms will take a photocopy – you walk in with an original “certified copy” and they will take a photocopy and hand you your original back. Pensions and life insurance companies will often take the original and not return it. Additionally, if an estate needs to go to probate, you will probably have to leave an original with your attorney.
Example 1: You have four bank accounts and one investment account to close, you would need one death certificate.
Example 2: You have three bank accounts, a pension, a house, life insurance and a 401k to close, you will likely need four (4) death certificates – One for banks and 401k, one for the attorney, one for the pension and one for the life insurance. Note – it is not common that someone dies and these items haven’t been wrapped up already.
Many attorneys, friends, and family will suggest that you get 5-10. While these people have good intentions, things have changed a great deal in the past few years and most institutions aren’t requiring original death certificates.
Once the death certificate is filed with the county, we can get additional copies quickly if you need them. Therefore we suggest starting with no more than five, and then letting us know if you need additional copies down the road.
You can find the detailed answers about cremation pricing on our cremation pricing page or burial pricing page. If you have already been to these page and thought were still unsure as to what is involved in our pricing, let us explain our pricing philosophy to you in more detail.
When we started Elemental, it was with the premise that our pricing should be all-inclusive and up-front. We don’t do “hidden fees” or gotchas. You should know exactly what you’re getting and how much it will cost. Not only is it the law, it’s the right thing to do.
It is our goal to create lasting relationships with every client that walks through our door, and the only way we can do that successfully is to be 100% transparent about our pricing.
When you are looking for Simple Cremation the only costs not automatically included in the service prices are death certificates and county fees. These costs are set by the county where the death occurs, so it’s impossible for us to bundle those items into the price in a way that is fair to all our clients.
Elemental has a pricing policy focused on the most basic services needed by families, although we try to include as much as possible in that baseline price. For families who want additional services, we have those too, but there will likely be an extra cost. An example of this is our death certificate surcharge on orders of five or more death certificates. Death certificates are expensive for a funeral home to provide to families. In fact, some funeral homes won’t even provide them, families are required to order them directly from the county. We created a surcharge because of the few families who requested more death certificate copies than they need, “just in case”. Spreading this cost to all our clients seemed unfair, so we opted to impose a surcharge for those who wanted more than five death certificates.
In many circumstances, families would like a visitation or a witness cremation and these items are added on as you need them, instead of creating confusing pricing with bundles. The result is that it may sound like “plus this, and plus that” but the reality is that we won’t make you pay for things you don’t need. In fact, to the contrary often we are educating families on what they don’t need to be spending money on!
All the charges on our price list have specific and justifiable reasons behind them. If you have questions about specifics, please ask us. We will provide a straightforward answer as to why we have opted to price our services as you see them on the website.
After any death, please call us – 24 hours a day at 206-357-1141 – to let us know so that we can help you and answer questions and assist in coordination.
If your loved one is under hospice care, or is in a care facility (hospital, nursing home, etc.) they will have likely already taken the steps necessary to process the paperwork. Let the facility know that you would like to use Elemental at the time of passing and provide our phone number: 206-357-1141. It is also a good idea to call us yourself so that you are certain that the information has been communicated.
Call 911 to notify them of the death, and they will arrive and assess the situation. They will contact the county medical examiner to review the death for further, if any, action that may need to be taken.