Frequently Asked Questions
About Pillar Cremation
- What is Pillar Cremation?
Pillar Cremation is part of the largest funeral provider in Michigan’s Thumb. We are independently owned, fully licensed and focused on the needs of the family whose choice is minimal service cremation.
- Why is Pillar different than using a traditional funeral home for cremation?
Pillar provides a simpler alternative, enabling families to save money by allowing them to select only the most essential professional services required for legal cremation in the State of Michigan. All other services typically handled by funeral homes, such as obtaining copies of death certificates, placement of obituaries in the newspaper, and filing for veteran’s benefits, are handled by the family.
Our services are affordable, convenient and eliminate the need to come to a funeral home to make arrangements or retrieve remains.
For those requiring a bit more assistance, more inclusive service packages and additional options are available.
- Why is Pillar different from other discount cremation providers?
Many so-called “discounters” are marginal funeral homes using bait-and-switch price advertising to lure families to their facilities, where the actual total price of a cremation is far in excess of what was advertised. Pillar is committed to fully transparent, ethical contacts and contracts with the families who select our services. We believe an honest alternative is needed for those seeking low-cost options. Our prices are fully disclosed on our website and materials.
- Why are Pillar services less expensive than traditional funeral home services?
Our packages eliminate many nice but non-essential service items usually provided by traditional funeral homes. Families need to understand prior to choosing Pillar that our low costs are based upon minimal (only the legally necessary) services being provided. Please click here for more important information about our services.
- Why does Pillar exist?
We believe that area families have been well served by the traditional funeral homes of the Thumb for many years. The WWII and baby-boomer generations largely planned for and pre-funded their death-care arrangements. Today however, many families have lost jobs and benefits, are estranged or for other reasons are unprepared for funeral expenses. In other cases, they simply do not wish to have traditional services. We are committed to meeting the needs of our community and our client families in all circumstances. In changing economic times, Pillar offers a reasonable alternative.
- What services are and are not included?
Our price lists contain exactly what is included. For your information, we provide the following optional instructions as needed:
- You may place an obituary in the Port Huron Times Herald by calling 866 543-6431, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Most other newspapers list an obituary placement number on their obituary page. You will be required to provide payment directly to the newspaper.
- We will file your death certificate, obtain the medical examiner cremation permit and notify Social Security of the death. After filing, if the death occurred in St. Clair County, you may obtain certified copies of death by visiting the County Clerk’s office and paying the required fees of $15 (first copy) and $6 (subsequent copies). An honorably discharged veteran receives one free copy. If the death occurs outside the County, you will need to contact the appropriate agency to obtain certified copies.
- We do not handle changes or corrections to death certificates. All changes and corrections to the death certificates after filing will be handled by and paid for by the family. We do not make death certificate corrections for any reason. If you need to correct a filed death certificate, contact State of Michigan Vital Records Changes, P.O. Box 30721, Lansing, MI 48909 or phone 517 335-8660 to request an Application to Correct Michigan Death Record. There is a charge for the correction and new certified copies.
- Families of veterans should also visit the County Veterans Affairs office with a death certificate, copy of paid cremation bill and honorable military discharge to apply for possible benefits. These offices are listed in the phone directory under St. Clair County. We will register the death with the State veterans’ trust fund.
- Who authorizes cremation?
In Michigan, the next of kin must authorize the cremation. You may not authorize your own cremation. You may not authorize the cremation of a family member who has a spouse. A legal spouse is always the next of kin. Children, then parents, then siblings come next. A majority of the same degree of kinship (without known objections) must agree to authorize. By signing the two authorization forms, you are confirming that you are the legal next of kin, that you have the authority to authorize, and that you are taking responsibility and liability for any objections that might arise from other family members. It is wise to obtain these signatures in advance of need. To do so, download “Authorization to Cremate” and “Disposition of Cremated Remains.” Sign these forms and return them to us. These signed forms along with payment are required before cremation can take place.
- Where does cremation take place?
We use May Memorial Crematory in Port Huron Township. May Memorial is a state-of-the-art facility with two retorts. Because they are local, there is no need to transport the body by vehicle unnecessarily to a distant crematory. Witnessing of the starting of the cremation process can be arranged for an additional charge. A metal tag identification system is in place to ensure cremated remains are secure.
- Why do I need a licensed funeral provider?
Michigan law prohibits ownership of crematories by funeral homes. No local funeral homes own their own crematory or are particularly specialized in cremation services more than others. All local funeral homes provide cremation services. A licensed funeral director is required by law to obtain and file the death certificate and permit and to supervise the disposition of the remains. Pillar is part of and licensed through one of the largest funeral homes in Michigan’s Thumb to provide all needed professional services and does so in an appropriately respectful, dignified, albeit simple manner.
Paying for the cremation
- When do I pay for the cremation?
One of the most expensive services to provide is the extension of credit. Therefore, payment and required information for paperwork is expected within 48 hours of death and before the cremation takes place. An additional sheltering charge of $100 per day will accrue if the family fails to provide the needed death certificate/permit and payment in a timely manner.
You may set up an information file with Pillar without cost or obligation, saving your survivors this responsibility. To do so, download “Pillar Information,” complete and return to us. We recommend you not transmit confidential information via email.
- Can I prepay Pillar Cremation?
You may set up an escrowed funeral account as a non-guaranteed contract under Michigan law, which will earn interest and accumulate value to be applied against the current prices of cremation at the time of death. This account is transferable and 90% refundable. We do not guarantee prices, nor do we handle irrevocable agreements for Medicaid/DHS. If you need to shelter assets to apply for Medicaid, we advise that you deal with a traditional funeral home. To prepay a Pillar Cremation, contact us.
- Does Pillar accept DHS payments for indigent funerals?
Yes. If the deceased is certified eligible by DHS, we accept the DHS payment and ask the family to supplement the balance. A family member must apply for assistance and we must receive confirmation of acceptance within the 48 hour time period.