Extra Fees for a Lakeland Cremation Service: Are They Legal?

When I talk with families about making cremation arrangements for their loved one, the topic of the “extra fees” comes up. Because of how we have structured our business we have very few “extra fees” but I know with many funeral homes and cremation centers these can be extensive and it’s important to understand them before agreeing to pay.

We charge for the services we provide as any business does. However, there are some fees that are simply out of our control as they are assessed by third parties, the State of Florida or the county where the death occurs.

Medical Examiner and Cremation Permit Fee

Even when the body does not go into the care of the medical examiner, some counties require a review of the nature of the death before they will allow cremation and charge a fee for this review.  This is a common practice across the State and the fee helps offset the Medical Examiner’s operating costs. These fees are collected by the funeral home or cremation center on behalf of the county.

Death Certificate Fees

Death certificates in Lakeland, Winter Haven, Auburndale and all of Polk County cost $10 for each certified copy. These fees are not marked up but collected by the funeral home or cremation center and paid to the county. In some cases, the funeral home or cremation center may have a service fee for processing a request, especially if it must be filed manually, involves an amendment, or requires additional work by the funeral home staff.


Each newspaper charges different amounts for obituaries. This can range from a small fee of $10 all the way up to $500 depending on the length of the obituary.

Who Do You Call If You Have a Death During the Holidays?

Having someone pass on a holiday is very tough and we hope you are never in that situation. It seems even a little more difficult if someone dies on Christmas or another big holiday. While the world is busy with parties and celebrations, being the one that is grieving or facing an imminent loss often leaves people feeling even more lonely.

So, if the unfortunate situation arises and you have a death during a holiday, know that we are on call and ready to assist your family with whatever needs you have.

Many families I talk to on holidays voice their sincere concern that they are taking me away from my family and feel like they are ruining it for me. That’s definitely not the case. In fact, at most of the firms where I’ve served, there have been people who, for various reasons, volunteer to be on call. And families should not feel like they are taking our holiday away. We typically are “on call” so we can still spend the day with our family and friends. Even on New Year’s Eve we simply pass on the champagne toast, knowing we may need to leave and assist a family.

Just like a first responder or people who work in medical facilities and hospices, we are called to our careers as professionals. The career typically picks us and not the other way around. We start the journey of college knowing part of the job is being there for families regardless of the day or time.

Working on holidays has provided some of the most rewarding times in my career. We enter this industry because we want to serve families at their time of need. Never is it clearer than at Christmas. We are fortunate to be given the chance to give our time and talents to help people, what better time than during the Season of Giving.

Your Consumer Rights in Lakeland

Ultimately, none of us has power over death. But it is often reassuring as a family member or next of kin of a dying or deceased loved one to know they have some undeniable cremation and funeral consumer rights when it comes to cremation arrangements – control and rights backed by the federal government.

The Funeral Rule is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. It was created to protect consumers as they make decisions about products and services. The Rule makes it possible for you to choose only what you need or want. It also gives you a clear picture of costs you are being charged. This means you can compare prices among cremation providers and funeral homes to see if they are quoting the same services.

Package pricing for cremation is available at many providers, including Gilley’s Family Cremation. This provides a straightforward way to provide pricing on what is typically needed and is less confusing for families. However, it’s important to know your funeral consumer rights under the Funeral Rule to choose services individually as well. You do not have to accept a package deal from a funeral home or cremation provider that includes items you don’t want. However, when comparing prices, you may find the package price is less expensive than the individual items. For example, especially with direct cremation, you typically see a package because there are specific items always required in Florida including a cremation container, cremation permit (Medical examiner in Polk County charges $25), transportation from the place of death and refrigeration.

In addition, cremation providers and funeral homes are required to give price information over the phone if you request it and give you a general price list when you visit in person. This list, which is yours to keep. It will show the items and services the provider offers and the cost of each one. After options are selected and a plan is made, the cremation provider and the funeral home will provide an itemized statement, so you can see the total before services are rendered, even if you selected a package.

You can count on Gilley’s Family Cremations to be upfront and honest in our pricing. Feel free to contact us anytime at 863-875-9079 and a member of our professional staff will be happy to answer your questions.

Contact us to set up an in-person meeting. We also are available to meet with families at your home or a location of your choosing.

Cremation Urns: What to Do With Cremated Remains?

I often write about choices in cremation arrangements. There are lots of decisions to be made, which is why I strongly recommend using the services of a professional.

One of the decisions in the cremation process is what to do with the cremated remains (commonly called “ashes”). As cremation becomes more popular, there is a dizzying array of cremation urn possibilities, including traditional urns, unusual containers, keepsakes and biodegradable urns.

If convenience is important to you, many of the choices we’re discussing here are available at Gilley’s Family Cremation. We have a wide selection of urns, keepsakes, and jewelry that encloses or incorporates small amounts of cremated remains.

Since it would be impossible to spell out all the different kinds of containers now on the market, I have limited this article to some specific examples that have recently caught my attention. Do some research and you’ll see I’m not exaggerating… the list of possibilities is huge!

Many environmentally-conscious Floridians are already aware of tree seed options. Remains are added to a biodegradable urn with a future tree inside. The ashes become part of the tree… a new life that adds to the beauty of the planet and should endure for many years to come. A life-sustaining option is adding remains to environmentally-safe cement that is formed into an artificial reef and becomes a new habitat for fish and other forms of sea life.

Display pieces that are placed on mantels, shelves, and other highly-visible spots are always popular. One of my favorites is an urn in the shape of praying hands. To honor lives of military service, there are triangle-shaped flag cases mounted on a pedestal urn. I also like the functional, dignified-looking clocks that feature a discreet compartment containing cremated remains. There are also beautiful custom-blown glass art pieces that incorporate your loved one’s remains.

The options for what to do with cremated remains are limited only by your imagination. If you have questions or want some guidance on cremation urns, I/we are always willing to help.

Contact us to set up an in-person meeting at your home or our office. Visit our website for a full list of current pricing.


Preparing for the Arrangement Conference After a Death in Lakeland or Winter Haven

When most of us think of a conference, we think about a group of sports teams, a big meeting featuring keynote speakers and everyone wearing name tags. But when it comes to an end-of-life arrangement conference is when plans are made for cremation.

If you haven’t attended an arrangement conference, there can be anxiety leading up to the meeting due to not knowing what to expect. Understanding what will occur goes a long way in making the arrangement conference less scary.

An arrangement conference is a coordination and meeting where initial decisions are made about cremation. It is time set aside for those wishing to be part of planning to meet with the cremation provider. And, the more prepared a family is for the meeting, the better and more productive it will be.

Cremation providers normally begin by collecting facts about the loved one if they were not already provided including specific information for documents such as the death certificate, obituary or other published notices. If possible, the facts about the deceased should be brought to the arrangement conference unless they were provided during a pre-planning meeting or phone conversation.

There is specific information required by the Department of Vital Statistics for deaths occurring in Florida even if you are arranging a simple cremation.

  • Full Legal Name including any suffix (Jr., III, etc.)
  • Birth Date
  • Birth Place (City, State)
  • Social Security Number
  • Spouse’s Full Name (including Maiden Name), if applicable
  • Father’s Full Name
  • Mother’s Name (including Maiden Name)
  • Home Address
  • Highest Education Level
  • Professional Industry
  • Occupation
  • If the deceased was a veteran
  • Race
  • Photographs (electronic versions are typically preferred.
  • Organizations they were involved in (churches, clubs, volunteer work)
  • Education history (including names of schools, years attended)
  • Military service details
  • Work history

Also, we must establish who has the legal right to approve the cremation. This would normally be a spouse. If there is no spouse, it would fall to the all of the children. If there are numerous children, one of them could slow the process considerably. If no spouse or children, then all siblings. This is why that it is so important that the deceased themselves sign their own cremation authorization prior to their death.

Be ready to receive information, as well as giving it. The staff at Gilley’s Family Cremation will assist the family in making decisions about the cremation and explaining any other details.

  • Ask questions. There are no insignificant questions, especially at this time. Be sure to feel comfortable with the decisions being made and understand what is involved.
  • If needed information requested at the time of the conference is missing, don’t worry. It can be provided after the meeting.
  • Take notes. Many people think they will remember it all but when they get home, there are details they have forgotten.

Arrangement conferences are a valuable part of arranging cremation. If pre-planning did not occur, it is when all of the important decisions about the cremation are made.

Lakeland Cremation Provides Options For Loved Ones

Cremation is not a substitute for a memorial service. Rather, cremation is one means of caring for your loved one’s body (also called final disposition) following his or her death. Choosing a simple cremation increases your family’s options when it comes to honoring the unique individual you’ve lost.

Cremation has been practiced as a method of preparing loved ones following their deaths throughout history. By using heat and flame to reduce a deceased body to bone fragments, cremation is an alternative to traditional burial or entombment. For some, cremation can provide a “green option” in place of traditional burials that require use of land resources.

Gilley’s Family Cremation provides Winter Haven & Lakeland cremation services throughout Central Florida. Contact us to set up an in-person meeting in the comfort of your own home, or visit our Winter Haven, Florida office. Browse our website for a full list of the services included in our Direct Cremation Package.