Frequently Asked Questions2017-11-10T17:00:03+00:00
Who do I call for body pickup?2017-08-31T16:34:33+00:00

Do not call the San Diego Memorial Society. 24/7 Call the mortuary of choosing from our list of participating mortuaries.

What if I lose my membership card or final planning booklet?2017-08-31T16:34:16+00:00

Call our office. There may be a charge for replacement.

Do I need to prepay the mortuary?2022-11-08T21:09:14+00:00

There is now a state law that requires the mortuary to keep any pre-paid funds in a trust. This protects you if you want to pay in advance. If you decide not to use that mortuary or if the mortuary goes out of business it’s easy to get your money back. The money is heldt in a trust and will be safe.  This is a great way to lock in the low pricing. Not every mortuary will honor the low pricing we have negotiated AND set up a pre-paid agreement but most will. Just call the mortuary you want from our list to find out for sure.

How do I know if mortuaries are added or dropped by the society?2018-05-10T20:08:01+00:00

Any changes in mortuaries or prices will occur each January and will be posted on this website. Click here for our latest low cost burial and cremation fees through our various mortuaries.

After I join, what do I do?2017-08-31T16:33:31+00:00

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.

Is my membership transferrable if I move from San Diego county?2018-01-09T23:55:44+00:00

Yes. You can transfer your membership to another FCA organization servicing your new area. See

Can I be a member if I don’t live in San Diego county?2017-08-31T16:32:57+00:00

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 for a similar organization in your area.

How do I join the society? (even if your loved one has already passed)2018-05-10T20:09:02+00:00

Click here for your easy online form that will help you save money on burial or cremation services at 11 participating mortuaries in San Diego County. Or call us at 858-391-1267

How is the society funded?2022-11-08T21:15:46+00:00

The society is funded by membership fees and donations.  SDMS is a non-profit, tax exempt 501(c)(4) organization, incorporated in the State of California

How long has the society been in existence?2017-08-31T16:32:04+00:00

SDMS has operated continuously since 1958.

Is my membership valid while traveling?2017-08-31T16:31:49+00:00

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.

What does membership provide?2017-08-31T16:31:13+00:00

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.

What services are provided by the San Diego Memorial Society?2022-11-08T21:18:36+00:00

SDMS has contracted with local independent mortuaries to provide six basic plans (2 burial and 4 cremation plans):

  • Direct cremation, minimal service
  • Direct Cremation, minimal service with unwitnessed scattering of ashes at sea or USPS delivery of ashes.
  • Immediate burial, simple casket
  • Traditional funeral and burial, full service, including casket
  • Traditional funeral with cremation, chapel
  • Cremation with memorial service
What is the San Diego Memorial Society?2017-08-31T16:28:52+00:00

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.

Can my loved one’s body be moved even if I’m not in town?2022-11-08T21:20:42+00:00

Yes, a decedent can be moved to a funeral home even if a family member is not in town.  Here are the criteria:

  • If the patient is under any HOSPICE CARE, and if a Hospice is not at the residence at the time of death, then the first people to call is Hospice and they will come out to pronounce the death and notify the funeral home the family have chosen. The funeral home will then transport the decedent to the respective facility,
  • If the patient is NOT under Hospice Care, then the authorities must be called to assure there has been no foul play or the death is not from an accident. The authorities called  are generally 911 and they notify TIPS. The authorities make contact with the medical examiner who determines if the decedent can be transported to the funeral home of the family’s choice or if they need to transport to their facility for further investigation.

In any circumstance, it would be prudent for the family to have a mortuary of their choice in advance.  They do not have to pay in advance. However, please choose one of the funeral homes on the SDMS List and provide that name to the care givers.  Our membership cards have a place to designate the funeral home you have chosen. When this is kept in the wallet, confusion can be eliminated.

NOTE:  Failure of the family providing a name of a funeral home will most likely result in the decedent being transported to a NON-SDMS funeral home resulting in additional costs anywhere from  $295 to $895 by the funeral home that made the original transfer.

What happens if my loved one is already at the medical examiner’s (coroner’s) office?2022-11-08T21:23:03+00:00

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.

What if I’m a veteran?2017-08-31T16:38:01+00:00

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.

What about body donation?2018-05-10T20:10:27+00:00

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. Click here to read more about body and organ donation.

What is direct burial?2017-08-31T16:37:31+00:00

Mortuary picks up the body, takes it to the mortuary, places it in an inexpensive casket, transports it to the cemetery.

Can I take advantage of the society’s discounts if my family member has already passed?2017-08-31T16:37:16+00:00

Yes, you can sign up your relative as a member and receive all applicable discounts with a phone call (858-391-1267)

Questions you should ask when shopping for cemetery needs:2017-08-31T16:37:02+00:00

Total costs including the following:

  1. BURIAL – Gravesite, opening and closing, vault plus installation, endowment care, processing fee.
  2. MAUSOLEUM – Crypt, opening and closing, endowment care, processing fee.
  3. NICHE FOR CREMAINS – Niche, opening and closing, endowment care, processing fee.
What do I need to know about burial?2017-08-31T16:36:44+00:00

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.

Are there any special considerations for cremation?2017-08-31T16:36:28+00:00

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.

What are my total costs for cremation?2022-11-08T21:27:54+00:00

See our participating mortuary list. In addition to quoted prices, you’ll also pay $12.00 for the disposition permit and $21 (as of October 2022) 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. Check our low cost burial and cremation plans list here.

How does the cost of cremation compare to the cost of burial?2018-01-19T17:28:47+00:00

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. The prices change every year in January. Click here for our latest low cost burial and cremation fees through our various mortuaries.

I live in San Diego. However, I want to be buried in my family plot in my hometown. How should I handle this?2017-08-31T16:35:39+00:00

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.

At time of death, what do I need to do?2017-08-31T16:35:23+00:00

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.

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