FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q. WHAT IS THE SAN DIEGO MEMORIAL SOCIETY?
A. SDMS is a nonprofit organization formed to help members obtain simple and dignified arrangements for burial or cremation. Its orientation is focused on consumer protection and it is led by a volunteer, unpaid Board of Directors elected by the membership. The Society makes arrangements with participating mortuaries to provide for basic services at low, fully transparent prices.
Q. WHAT SERVICES ARE PROVIDED BY THE SAN DIEGO MEMORIAL SOCIETY?
A. SDMS has contracted with local independent mortuaries to provide six basic plans:
• Direct cremation, minimal service
• Direct Cremation, full service
• Immediate burial, simple casket
• Traditional funeral and burial, full service, including casket
• Traditional funeral with cremation, chapel
• Cremation with memorial service
Q. WHAT DOES MEMBERSHIP PROVIDE?
A. The prices for the plans are negotiated by SDMS on an annual basis for the benefit of the members. These prices are always much lower than those paid by non-members. Additional goods and service not included in the negotiated price of a plan are available from participating mortuaries at extra cost. SDMS monitors the performance of participating mortuaries.
Q. IS MY MEMBERSHIP VALID WHILE TRAVELING?
A. The San Diego Memorial Society is one of over 100 similar organizations in the United States and Canada that are affiliated with the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA). Through reciprocity with these many affiliates, members can usually receive assistance if death occurs while traveling. You can contact the FCA at 802-865-8300 for the other locations.
Q. HOW LONG HAS THE SOCIETY BEEN IN EXISTENCE?
A. SDMS has operated continuously since 1958.
Q. HOW MANY MEMBERS BELONG TO THE SOCIETY?
A. SDMS has serviced over 50,000 members since 1958.
Q. HOW IS THE SOCIETY FUNDED?
A. The society is funded by membership fees and donations. We are a 501C-4 organization.
Q. HOW DO I JOIN THE SOCIETY?
A. Fill out application in the name of the person that will be using the membership. Mail it to the address on the application. You can also click on “application” on the homepage of our website: www.sdmsonline.com and hit send and an invoice will be sent to you by return e-mail to pay with a credit card.
Q. CAN I BE A MEMBER IF I DON’T LIVE IN SAN DIEGO COUNTY?
A. Yes. SDMS primarily services San Diego county residents. Some of our members live in neighboring counties. However, there is an additional charge for body pickup based on mileage outside of San Diego County. Check with www.fca.org for a similar organization in your area.
Q. IS MY MEMBERSHIP TRANSFERRABLE IF I MOVE FROM SAN DIEGO COUNTY?
A. Yes. You can transfer your membership to another FCA organization servicing your new area. See www.fca.org.
Q. AFTER I JOIN, WHAT DO I DO?
A. You’ll receive a membership packet in the mail with step-by-step information that you need to arrange for your end-of-life needs. Complete the Final Planning Booklet as soon as you receive it. The membership card should be carried at all times. The information on the card will help survivors or the authorities carry out your wishes should you die in an accident.
Q. HOW DO I KNOW IF MORTUARIES ARE ADDED OR DROPPED BY THE SOCIETY?
A. You can check the website periodically. You also will be mailed a new list every March with your newsletter.
Q. DO I NEED TO PREPAY THE MORTUARY?
A. We recommend that you don’t prepay. We suggest setting up a separate payable-on-death savings account at your bank. Talk to your bank to see how they structure such accounts, as banks and credit unions have different procedures. If you prefer to prepay, contact the mortuary that you have chosen from our list.
Q. WHAT IF I LOSE MY MEMBERSHIP CARD OR FINAL PLANNING BOOKLET?
A. Call our office. There may be a charge for replacement.
Q. WHO DO I CALL FOR BODY PICKUP?
A. Do not call the San Diego Memorial Society. 24/7 Call the mortuary of choosing from our list of participating mortuaries.
Q. AT TIME OF DEATH, WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?
A. Do not call the San Diego Memorial Society. Call your mortuary for body pickup. Make an appointment with the mortuary during office hours to finalize disposition. Let them know the deceased is a member of the society. Payment is required at this time. You’ll need their membership number as proof of membership to obtain the discounted price.
Q. I LIVE IN SAN DIEGO. HOWEVER, I WANT TO BE BURIED IN MY FAMILY PLOT IN MY HOMETOWN. HOW SHOULD I HANDLE THIS?
A. The least expensive solution is to pay for cremation in San Diego and have the mortuary mail the cremains to the cemetery for burial, or you can transport them. If burial is required, contact your chosen local mortuary to obtain pricing for preparing the body for shipment, shipping the body, and whatever arrangements are required by the receiving mortuary. You will also need a mortuary in the town where you are shipping the body to carry out all services on that end. SDMS participating mortuaries can help you if you decide to cremate locally. However, SDMS cannot assist with the body shipment process.
Q. HOW DOES THE COST OF CREMATION COMPARE TO THE COST OF BURIAL?
A. The cost of the cemetery is usually the deciding factor. Example: You can be cremated for less than $700, but the cost of a cemetery plot can range from $6,000 to $15,000 or more with the added expense of the opening and closing and vault plus installation. The Funeral services can range from $1750 to thousands depending on your requirements.
Q. WHAT ARE MY TOTAL COSTS FOR CREMATION?
A. See our participating mortuary list. In addition to quoted prices, you’ll also pay $12.00 for permit to cremate and $21 for each death certificate. (These prices are set by the County of San Diego so are subject to change).You can order additional death certificates online from the San Diego County Recorders office. You can also make photocopies as needed. NOTE: You must be a member of the society to get the discounted rates from our participating mortuaries.
Q. ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR CREMATION?
A. Yes, there are additional charges if the person weighs more than 300 pounds. Please advise the mortuary because there are also special considerations for body pickup.
Q. WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BURIAL?
A. You’ll need to choose a mortuary and a cemetery. Any mortuary can deliver to any cemetery. There is no requirement to use the mortuary at the cemetery. FYI, the mortuaries located at the cemeteries in San Diego County are very expensive. You should consider using a private mortuary. The mortuary will pick up the body any place in San Diego County. They take it to the mortuary and prepare it for cremation or burial. Mortuaries have chapels and can help with services. Discuss this when you have your initial appointment.
Q. QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK WHEN SHOPPING FOR CEMETERY NEEDS:
A. Total costs including the following:
a. BURIAL - Gravesite, opening and closing, vault plus installation,
endowment care, processing fee.
b. MAUSOLEUM – Crypt, opening and closing, endowment care,
c. NICHE FOR CREMAINS – Niche, opening and closing, endowment care,
Q. CAN I TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SOCIETY’S DISCOUNTS IF MY FAMILY MEMBER HAS ALREADY PASSED?
A. Yes, you can sign up your relative as a member and receive all applicable discounts with a phone call (858-391-1267)
Q. WHAT IS DIRECT BURIAL?
A. Mortuary picks up the body, takes it to the mortuary, places it in an inexpensive casket, transports it to the cemetery.
Q. WHAT ABOUT BODY DONATION?
A. You should still become a member of the society. You’ll need to have a backup plan in the event that the body is refused by the organization. Most body and tissue organizations require an immediate phone call for body pickup. A body will not be accepted for donation if an autopsy has been performed or for various other reason.
Q. WHAT IF I’M A VETERAN?
A. The national cemeteries provide interment for qualified veterans at no cost. However, all veterans still need a mortuary for cremation or preparation for burial. These costs are covered by the responsible party, not the U.S government. Membership in the society will give you access to discounted prices through our participating mortuaries.
Q. WHAT HAPPENS IF MY LOVED ONE IS ALREADY AT THE MEDICAL EXAMINER’S (Coroner’s) OFFICE?
A. You can still call SDMS and sign them up and they will be picked up by the Participating Mortuary of your choice when the body is ready for release.